The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bolpur set to be green housing lab

Bolpur, June 20: About three hours’ train ride from Calcutta, this town is set to become a cradle for an experiment in rural real estate development.

A joint sector housing company has undertaken a Rs 3.5 crore social forestry project here to redeem its pledge to restore the environmental balance that suffered because of the construction of a condominium at Prantik, close to Visva Bharati.

The government may now force all housing companies to replicate across rural Bengal the restore-nature pledge. “It is our clear-cut statement on what we want our joint-sector housing companies to do,” said housing minister Gautam Deb.

“We are going to tell the housing companies that we shall not tolerate any messing up of the environment. They cannot just make money by selling flats and turn their backs on nature.”

Scheduled to be unveiled on June 22, Arani, spread over seven acres, is a brainchild of the Sriniketan-Santiniketan Development Authority.

“In a way, it is a tough call — managing demands for growth, quality life and prosperity without destroying nature,” said Somnath Chatterjee, the CPM MP who also heads the authority.

Bengal Peerless Housing Development Company, a joint venture of the government and the Peerless group, is executing the project. The company had promised to the authority it will do its bit for environment when it built Sonar Tari, the housing complex.

Failed suicide bids

Ashamed at being suspended for allegedly colluding with an abduction kingpin, a CID officer twice attempted suicide today. He first tried to jump from the roof of the CID headquarters and then the train in which he was returning to his Asansol home.

The criminal had allegedly made a phone call

The officer, who was slapped a suspension order last Tuesday after it was revealed that Gopal Mudi aka Gopal Gupta, alleged to have abducted businessmen and industrialists here and in Purulia, had made a phone call to one of his quarries from the CID office here in his presence.

As is the case, the SSDA’s initiative has brought in accolades as well as sharp criticisms, especially from lobbies that believe real estate development may deal a blow to the fabled cultural heritage and the natural charms.

If one fails to ensure such management, politics raises its head, blocking everything. Our objective is to achieve the balance and fulfil popular expectations.”

to redeem the “environment preservation’ pledge it had made to the government and the SSDA when it stepped into Birbhum district a few years years ago to execute Sonar Tari,phase I, a housing complex, borrowing from Tagore’s ecclectic concepts of Nature, architecture and rural life. Bengal Peerless was first of the joint sector housing companies ---- Bengal Ambuja, Bengal Shrachi and two others---to step out of the confines of Calcutta into rural Bengal to whip up a boom.

Project Arani, being developed by a team of landscape architects from Delhi and Calcutta,in its entirety will contain three stages in tune with Tagore’s outlook : Puja, Prem and Prakriti, each to be designed with trees of particular shades,said Bengal Peerless mnaging director K.S.Bagchi. For example, Puja will comprise only trees bearing flowers of yellow shades, Prem to be highlighted by trees producing red flowers and Prakriti to contain a medley of colours, predominantly green. “Our basic objective is to advocate the role of trees in enhancing quality of life in the face of urbanisation,” said Bagchi.

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