Hat trick for book fair- The International Kolkata Book Fair was held at Central Park for the third time in a row. The shift in venue over the three years happened as the older venue — Milan Mela opposite Science City — was under renovation. The inauguration date this time was altered to January 28, a day before Saraswati puja.
Metro starts- After more than a decade of construction, the East-West Metro finally took off on February 14. AC Block’s Rajib Roy was the first to buy a token and 173 more passengers boarded the first train from Sector V to the stadium with him. The trains still go near-empty as the route is just from Wipro to Phoolbagan now. The last leg from the stadium to Phoolbagan was opened in October.
Market on wheels- A vegetable-on-wheels service was launched on February 26 whereby vegetables, fish, meat etc would be sold on vehicles that would roam the township. The facility was inaugurated by minister Subrata Mukherjee at CA Market and the initiative was taken by state comprehensive area development corporation under the panchayats and rural development department. During the lockdown they increased their area of service immensely.
NSG hub - A regional hub of the National Security Guard was opened opposite Uniworld City. The centre was inaugurated on March 1 by home minister Amit Shah.
The complex has residential space to house 460 persons with family as well as office accommodation and modern training facilities, such as baffle firing range, indoor shooting range, obstacles, swimming pool, sports complex and artificial rock craft wall.
Cables go underground - Work started on March 5 to build underground conduits to carry cable television and broadband wires in Sector V. The project by Nabadiganta Industrial Township Authority (NDITA) cleared the skies, making it neat to look at and safe for motorists and pedestrians. The first phase of work has now been completed.
Tank comes crashing - A water tank at Post and Telegraph (P&T) quarters in CC Block collapsed on March 12. No one was hurt but residents were inconvenienced by water shortage. They claimed to have been complaining about the run-down state of the complex to the authorities (department of post and BSNL) for years but no repairs were done. They are yet to start rebuilidng the tank.
Digital locker - India Post started its first digital parcel lockers in Sector V and New Town. The service eliminates the problem of no one being home to collect mail. To avail of the service while booking the delivery, one has to put c/o Postmaster, Nabadiganta IT post office or c/o Postmaster, New Town Action Area 1 post office as one’s address. The receiver receives a tracking number that he, at his preferred time, can go to the locker with, enter and take out the parcel.
First Covid patient - Fifty-one year old Gopi Agarwal of AD Block became the first Salt Lake resident to test positive for Covid-19 on March 31. He was admitted to hospital and returned home after recovery. No one else at home tested positive but his son, driver and cook were sent to the quarantine centre in New Town. His daughter and wife stayed home.
Amphan-uprooted trees replanted- The cyclone uprooted at least 5,000 trees in Salt Lake and another 3,000 in New Town but some residents across the townships immediately gathered forces and replanted as many as they could. The authorities did their bit too. NKDA began a drive to plant 10,000 trees. Much of the damage caused by Amphan in Salt Lake parks, however, remains.
Hotel shuts down- Swissotel, the five-star property attached to City Centre 2, shut down after the contract between its owner the Ambuja Neotia Group and the French hospitality chain Accor expired on June 30 after 10 years of operation. Since then, the Taj group has taken it over and the new hotel is expected to open in 2021.
Jagannath in car- With traditional Rathyatras ruled out by the court due to the pandemic, two Salt Lake groups ferried Jagannath, Balaram and Subhadra idols by car. Members of Bidhannagar Sree Chaitanya Bhagabat Samaj ferried the idols from BF Block and those from Bidhannagar Ramakrishna Vivekananda Kendra from their DD Block centre. Rest of the celebrations were subdued.
Drive-in tests- A walk-in and later a drive-in Covid-19 swab collection centre (in picture) opened at New Town Mela Ground. The facilities were set up to reduce the chance of getting infected with Covid-19 at the test centre. The kiosks are shut till January 5 while Saras Mela is on.
First complex with safe house- Greenwood Sonata became the first housing complex in Bengal to receive government permission to set up a safe house for asymptomatic or mild Covid cases. The order was dated August 19. Though the safe house still functions, not a single resident has checked in.
Free Covid test- Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation began tests for Covid-19 at the swimming pool complex opposite Mayukh Bhavan from August 3. The tests are free of cost and open to all.
Ganesh puja online- In perhaps the first of its kind in the township, Ganesh puja was streamed live for devotees. The location of the Yubak Sangha Club puja was undisclosed to avoid a gathering. Till last year, it would be held at PNB Island.
Karunamoyee theft attempts- Five burglaries were attempted between August 29 and 31 in the flats of Karunamoyee. Residents claimed the thieves were acting up as the streetlights in the area lay damaged since Cyclone Amphan back in May.
New Town platinum award- The township received platinum certification from the Indian Green Building Council, that is a part of the Confederation of Indian Industry. In 2018, the township had won gold certification and applied again. This time they scored with initiatives on rainwater harvesting, cycle lanes, electric vehicles, waste segregation etc.
Cycle-sharing app- Chartered Bike, an Ahmedabad-based cycle sharing company, began operations in New Town on September 29. Minister Firhad Hakim launched the service. Users need to download an app, fill it with a Rs 100 deposit and then ride for up to half an hour free of cost. The cycle is locked and unlocked using the app and has to be picked up and dropped off at one of their six stands at Biswa Bangla Gate, New Town bus terminus, near Reliance Fresh, outside Axis Mall, Novotel, and Dongfang Electric (near the Central Mall petrol pump).
Smart cycle stand- New Town got its first smart cycle stand on October 12 on a footpath outside the Nazrul Tirtha underpass. The shed has space for 70 cycles besides CCTV and facility to charge e-bikes as well as cell phones and an LCD screen for information such as on the weather. The stand is manned by security guards.
Corporation board tenure ends- The tenure of the Trinamul Congress-run board at the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation ended on October 15. A new board is to be elected but polls are being delayed due to the pandemic. Intermittent work is now being carried out by a board of administrators, led by Krishna Chakraborty, who was the mayor.
Water for Salt Lake- Salt Lake started receiving four million gallons of filtered water a day from the New Town water treatment plant. This additional water supplements the seven million gallons drawn daily from the Tallah water treatment plant all these years. So the township no longer needs to draw underground water. The service was inaugurated by minister Firhad Hakim on October 3.
Zero waste shop- A waste museum-cum-shop of upcycled waste materials opened on the Major Arterial Road opposite New Town bus terminal. The store collects waste materials from across the three action areas and Sector V, and engages women of an NGO titled Kolkata Society for Cultural Heritage to turn them into bags, furniture, jewellery and home decoration, that are up for sale.
Open-air gym- An open-air gymnasium and workout zone were inaugurated in Eco Urban Village near the Owl Junction in New Town. Opened on October 16, the gym was set up after residents revealed in a survey that they wanted to work out in an open space because of the pandemic. The gym is built along the lines of callisthenics parks and outdoor fitness stations, popular in South Korea, Europe and Australia.
Fire at FD Block puja- A fire gutted the puja pandal of FD Block on October 29. The day being Trayodashi, the rituals were over and there were no visitors at 6.15am, when it happened. No one was injured but the idol was still in the pandal. The fire brigade doused the flames in 45 minutes but the source could not be ascertained.
Speed cameras for New Town- Speed cameras were installed at regular intervals on the Major Arterial Road. Along with CCTVs, the speed cameras were connected to an Artificial Intelligence (AI) module to monitor vehicles, alert police of any abnormal driving and help reduce accidents.
Smart bus stand- A Wi-Fi-enabled bus stand came up in front of the Coal India building in New Town on November 5. The bus stand tells commuters the expected time of arrival of the next bus, its route and when it is likely to reach its final destination. The brightly-lit stand also has a snacks counter and functions as a night cafe and newspaper stand so that the stretch does not become desolate after sundown like many streets of New Town.
New Town polyclinic- A ground-breaking ceremony was held on December 9 for a polyclinic in Action Area 1, near Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Govt College. The medical centre would come up on two acres. It is being built as a two-storeyed structure where outdoor consultation will take place.
Mysterious AJ Block death- The charred skeletal remains of a man are found on the roof of a two-storey house in AJ Bock on December 10. A woman who lived in the house, Geeta Mahensariya, and her younger son Vidur are arrested. Tests reveal that the skeletal remains are of her elder son Arjun.
Coffee House opens- The prettiest coffee shop in town opened near New Town’s Amity University on December 3. The two-storied building is a modern one but with a touch of nostalgia in its architecture as homage to the original shop in College Street. It starts drawing so much footfall that Hidco switches to online booking facility, the price of which is adjustable against order.
Where: Central Park fairgrounds
When: January 9
What: The singer performed at Bidhannagar Mela (Utsav)
Where: Central Park fairgrounds
When: February 4
What: The actress spoke at a panel discussion on “Media, literature and society” at the Book Fair
Where: HB Park
When: March 8
What: The veteran actor, who passed away recently, was the special guest at a Basanta utsav event organised by Ward 34
Left us on: March 20
Indian football legend Pradip Kumar Banerjee passed away after being hospitalised for more than a month.
Banerjee, a right-winger, was an integral part of India’s gold medal-winning team in the 1962 Asian Games which scripted a historic 2-1 triumph against South Korea in Jakarta. He also had successful coaching stints with top clubs of Indian football, the arch rivals Mohun Bagan and East Bengal.
Left us on: May 10
Renowned historian Hari Vasudevan, who was a specialist on Russian and European history, succumbed to Covid-19. He was 68. Vasudevan, who had a doctoral degree from Cambridge University, taught history at Calcutta University and was associated with a host of other institutes.
Dibya Sundar Das
Left us on: May 13
The yoga practitioner, who travelled across the world to spread the discipline, breathed his last at the age of 68 at the Institute of Neurosciences where he was admitted three months earlier. A trained homeopath, Das had founded the first centre of the World Yoga Society in Salt Lake in 1986. The Society now has 10 centres in the city and 162 affiliated centres across the world. He was a disciple of yoga guru the late Yogindra Bishnu Charan Ghosh.
Abani Mohan Joardar
Left us on: June 12
Former West Bengal minister and sitting Trinamul Congress MLA Abani Mohan Joardar died at his residence after prolonged illness at the age of 79. The former IPS officer had joined the party in 2010 and was first elected from the Krishnanagar north assembly constituency in 2011. He had held the portfolio of correctional services in the government before quitting on health grounds.
The Residency, City Centre
Left us on: July 2
The owner of popular confectionery brands Mio Amore and Winkies died after a prolonged battle with cancer on Thursday. He was 65. His company has over 300 Mio Amore stores in West Bengal and Odisha.
He had brought the brand Monginis to eastern India in an arrangement with a Mumbai company, taking it in a new direction. The chain, that started with a shop in Dhakuria in 1992, expanded to over 300 outlets, including 220 in Calcutta.
Left us on: July 30
The veteran cricket coach, who gifted the Bengal Ranji Trophy team as many as 20 cricketers, breathed his last after a cardiac arrest at the age of 86. He was suffering from heart-related ailments and was hospitalised in April. Sourav Ganguly trained under him at the Dukhiram Coaching Centre, run under the Aryan Club galleries, which was once considered the nursery of Bengal cricket. Mustafi had played two first-class matches for Bengal in 1958-59. In 1992, he joined Howrah Union before taking charge of a coaching centre near his residence in FD Park.
Left us on: December 13
The Trinamul Congress leader and five-time former MP died at the age of 87 years. Pramanik, who joined Trinamul after being expelled from CPM in 2003, was MP from Mathurapur in South 24-Parganas. Earlier, he was an MLA from Magrahat East. He was a former head of the mathematics department at Surendranath College.