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West wake-up
- A sprawling satellite township that promises a slew of facilities and can house 36,000 people may change the face of Howrah

The grand gateway with the dancing horses a la Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and its Quadriga sculpture, the main boulevard generously peppered with tree-lined avenues, landscaped parks and open spaces, larger-than-life sculpted ballerinas, supermarkets and cineplexes, town square and community plazas, and, of course, houses.

Kolkata West International City, a satellite township development across 390.2 acres with 6,100 bungalows, four highrise residential towers, three IT parks, a 13-acre club, a 200-bed hospital, two schools and shopping and entertainment zones, promises to change the way Howrah is perceived.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who launched the project by unveiling the foundation plaque on February 15, felt that the Rs 2,500-crore township would provide the “right impetus” to growth on the western bank of the Hooghly. The project is expected to be home to nearly 36,000 people.

“There was a defined need for a project like this in Howrah and we are glad to be instrumental in bringing the country’s first direct FDI in housing to west Howrah,” the chief minister had said at the launch.

Coming up in west Howrah, off Howrah-Amta Road, around 9 km from BBD Bag and 12 km from Vidyasagar Setu, Kolkata West is a tripartite venture involving the Salim and Ciputra groups from Indonesia and the Universal Success Group of Jakarta-based NRI Prasoon Mukherjee.

“I have always wanted to do something like this for Calcutta and it gives me immense pleasure to be able to do this on the west bank of the river, which deserves an address like Kolkata West. Our motto is to create a new integrated township to ensure an international-quality lifestyle with lush, open spaces, stylish homes and a host of amenities in a composite basket,” Mukherjee told The Telegraph.

Kolkata West International City Pvt Ltd, the joint venture company building the township, commands a combined turnover of $20 billion-plus. Salim and Universal Success are investors in the project, Ciputra the developer and Singapore-based Surbana the project manager.

The clusters in the gated community will have “large, open spaces in the centre and at the entrance and smaller open spaces within for recreational activities”. Inside each residential sector, there will be precinct parks with playgrounds, pavilions and space for community activities.

The six types of homes range from 1,048 sq ft to 4,500 sq ft, with vehicle entry points at each cluster. The first 450 units will be handed over in December 2007, and another 608 in the next six months, according to the developers. Phase I will also have 70 G+2 shop-houses to accommodate traditional markets selling fish, vegetables and spices.

In phase II, the club, the schools 'a kindergarten and a secondary institution ' and the hospital will come up. The entire project is expected to be completed and delivered by 2010.

“This township is not only about answering the housing needs of Howrah. The number of jobs it would provide and the environment-friendly units it would promote prove the success of the public-private partnership model,” state urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said at the foundation stone ceremony.

The residents’ club will have an Olympic-size swimming pool, synthetic tennis courts, steam, sauna, billiards and pool. The township will also run its own air-conditioned bus service from the project campus to downtown Calcutta.

Other pluses in the project will be self-controlled maintenance and a water meter for each unit. “Our project will also be free from power cuts, thanks to a dedicated power station being set up by the WBSEB (state electricity board) inside the township,” Mukherjee said. The landed houses, with access to 10-ft wide roads on two sides, are priced between Rs 16 and 72 lakh.

“The Kolkata West township is a landmark Howrah deserves. But to realise its true potential, the planning authorities on both sides of the river must be in sync and they should integrate project layouts. For instance, it will be a good idea to dovetail planning of the new BE College campus, the Shalimar railway terminus and riverfront development on the west bank into one integrated masterplan,” suggested architect and urban designer Partha Ranjan Das.

Benny Santoso, the chairman of the Salim Group, said: “We promise to give the residents of Kolkata West a truly international living experience.”

According to Mukherjee, the best practices the Ciputra Group brings to the development would “raise the bar”.

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