Infosys Technologies Ltd said it has inaugurated its first Software Development Block (I) at its Technopark Campus II (SEZ) in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Infosys' second campus at Technopark Campus II (SEZ) is spread over 50 acres and will be developed over a period of five years in a phased manner. The Software Development Block (I) inaugurated at the Technopark Campus II (SEZ), has the capacity to seat 1,600 employees and has seen an investment of Rs180 crore till date. This includes a food court, recreational facilities for employees, chiller building, diesel generation block, water storage and treatment facility, sewage treatment plant and roads.
A 1,800 seater Software Development Block (II) is also currently under construction at this campus, the company said in a press release. Infosys started its operations in Thiruvananthapuram in January 2004, housed in the Bhavani and Thejaswini building of Technopark (STP). The campus at Technopark (STP) seats over 1,500 employees. Together both Infosys' campuses exported business worth Rs427.79 crore and contributed 18% to Kerala's exports in the financial year 2009-10.
On Thursday, Infosys Technologies ended 0.33% up at Rs3,111.20 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex increased 1.13% to 18,506.82.
The MSRDC did not conduct a public consultation on the proposal for a viaduct on Pedder Road, or consider alternatives before arriving at the decision. Sadly, simple observation of the traffic flow at another flyover suggests that this project will hardly improve the situation
In 1999, the government of Maharashtra, having been successful in improving the flow of vehicular traffic through numerous flyovers in various parts of Mumbai, suddenly discovered a major commuting bottleneck between Haji Ali and Marine Drive. It grandly believed that a double-decker viaduct through Tardeo and Nana Chowk would resolve the congestion problem. But the residents of the area vehemently opposed the proposal, saying that diverting Pedder Road traffic through their area, which was already congested, would increase the air and noise pollution to unbearable levels.
The question that comes to mind is, why did the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) not think it worthwhile to conduct a public consultation on the proposal, or undertake a comparative study of alternatives available before deciding on the Tardeo-Nana Chowk route? (MSRDC is the special purpose vehicle that was set up by the state government to conceive and implement the construction of roads, flyovers, bridges and sea links in the urban areas of the state. It is also responsible for the more than 50 flyovers that have come up in Mumbai over the past decade.)
Only after it became a political issue did the government appoint an expert committee to carry out a study. The one-man committee of Prof SL Dhingra of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, studied five alternatives. One, was to continue as it is, with no intervention. Second, was to have a viaduct over Tardeo. The third, a viaduct over Pedder Road. The fourth, viaducts over both Tardeo and Pedder Road. And last, three flyovers on the Tardeo-Nana Chowk route.
The report said that the best scenario was to have a viaduct over Pedder Road. But it also explained that the alternatives presented were themselves wrong with regard to the transportation problem. It strongly recommended that the public transportation system be strengthened, which would help reduce the road congestion all over Mumbai, including the Haji Ali-Marine Drive stretch.
There have been other options considered, like making Pedder Road reversible -one-way traffic in the tidal direction. But it was felt that this would increase the load on the Tardeo route by about 140% and reduce the speed to about 5 to 7kmph from about 14kmph and this was not acceptable. The single contra-flow lane option was also considered for Pedder Road, before 'arriving at the viaduct option'.
The Dhingra Report recommended that the viaduct could be a two-lane, one-way traffic with reversible flow; at the most of three lanes with two lanes for traffic in the tidal direction. This was arrived at given the narrowness of the Pedder Road-Babulnath stretch that would have set the flyover very close to existing buildings if four lanes were provided.
At the time, the Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) was also under consideration, to be followed by the Worli-Nariman Point Western Freeway Sea Link (WFSL). The BWSL, which was originally estimated to cost Rs400 crore, ultimately cost Rs1,600 crore and took nearly a decade to construct, and now caters to barely 35,000 people a day. The project was perceived as "Mumbai cannot do without the BWSL", and to an extent it was true. But at what cost was this undertaken? I am not talking just in monetary terms, but about the human lives lost in accidents on the gross under-capacity suburban railway system. Currently, an estimated 4,000 lives are lost every year. Where is the will to strengthen our public transport system? Aren't our priorities wrong?
The issue is how are so many people going to travel quickly on the roads? Government, through the MSRDC, seems to have decided to proceed with the Haji Ali to Wilson College viaduct and have has gone beyond the recommended three lanes to make it a four-lane viaduct. As a result, at some places it will come to as close as half a meter from some buildings. To do this, Arup-CES were assigned to carry out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) in 2006. This document is available at Rs10,000 as a published document and MSRDC has denied extracts sought under the RTI Act. Is there something objectionable in the report that the department is trying to keep away from citizens?
Now, ponder over the following observations that I made recently, during evening peak time (around 7 pm) on the Pedder Road northbound carriageway at the Cadbury Junction and then again at the northern end of the JJ Flyover, again the northbound carriageway. We know that the four-lane Pedder Road flyover will be similar to the JJ Flyover in length and width.
During a three-minute signal cycle, Pedder Road traffic comprising cars, taxis, motorbikes, buses and even some bicycles, had a throughput of 450 vehicles in nine minutes, for an hourly throughput of about 3,000 vehicles in the two lanes (constricted section). The JJ Flyover figure of 735 vehicles in a 15-minute interval gives an hourly throughput of 2,940.
The only benefit one can see from the Pedder Road Flyover is marginally higher speed, which will be good enough to make road-crossing significantly more dangerous for all, since speeds will increase even below the flyover. Of course, to overcome this we will have to have pedestrian subways, which will be abandoned due to existing underground utility services a-la- Metro Cinema Junction. Even if not, why should pedestrians be subjected to such hardships everywhere and all the time? A one metre climb is equivalent to 100 metres walking from the point of view of the energy expended.
In terms of the estimate of the number of persons, 3,000 vehicles an hour at the two locations-say 20 buses with 80 passengers each and 880 cars with 2.5 passengers and 2,100 cars and motorcycles with just one passenger, will have a throughput of 5,900 commuters. A Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS) at half-a-minute intervals, carrying 50 passengers each comfortably, and 440 cars with 2.5 passengers and 1,050 cars and motorcycles with one passenger will have a throughput of 8,150 commuters. The average speed of the BRTS will be about 25kmph to 30kmph, as against the current traffic speed of 12kmph.
One might be able to travel in cars at higher speeds on the viaducts, but average speeds do come down significantly when one considers the full journey. The point to understand as to why vehicular throughput does not increase with speed is that the safe distance between two vehicles increases with higher speed. If the bus capacity of BRTS is increased to 100, the two-lane road will then carry about 14,000 people. The number of vehicles would have dropped to about 1,600 from 3,000, reducing air and noise pollution.
Also, think about the air and noise pollution before arriving at your conclusions-so, should we demand a BRTS instead of allowing the viaduct project to be taken up.
(Sudhir Badami is a civil engineer and transportation analyst. He is on the government of Maharashtra’s steering committee on BRTS for Mumbai as well as the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority’s technical advisory committee on BRTS for Mumbai. He is also a member of the research & MIS committee of the Unified Mumbai Metropolitan Transport Authority. He was also a member of the Bombay High Court-appointed erstwhile Road Monitoring Committee (2006-07). He has been an active campaigner against ‘noise pollution’ for more than a decade and is a strong proponent of a functioning democracy. Mr Badami can be contacted at [email protected].)
While grape growers in the state have suffered destruction of crop due to unseasonal rains recently, wine producers have been troubled by lower sales over the past few years. They are hoping that the chief minister will take up the issues with the Union government at the earliest
Wine producers in Maharashtra have requested the state chief minister for assistance in matters of financing and taxation, at a time when their businesses have suffered due to untimely rains that have destroyed a large part of the grape crop this season.
Representatives of the All India Wine Producers' Association (AIWPA) met with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan recently and discussed with him problems of small and medium-size wineries and grape growers like unpaid loans, high interest rates and crop losses.
Association leaders said that the chief minister had assured them that he would take up their issues with the Centre as soon as possible to find solutions to their problems.
Jagdish Holkar, president, AIWPA, said, "The chief minister said that he recently met the union minister for food processing and discussed the issues of wineries and grape growers with him. He also said that the state and central government would look into these matters and together come up with a solution."
The Association is seeking soft loans amounting to Rs90 crore, as well as interest subvention and loan restructuring option. "The wine industry is a holding industry and interest rate of 14%-15% is unaffordable," Mr Holkar said.
Grape growers are additionally burdened as they have not received payments from wineries for the past two years, resulting in their inability to repay loans. "The farmer is at the losing end as wineries still have to pay their dues for the past two years. There are also loan dues that the farmers are finding hard to repay," said Rajesh Jadhav, secretary, AIWPA.
The grape-crushing season has begun in the Nashik and this year grape production in the region has been down to about 40% of the average annual production. A large part of the grape crop was destroyed by unseasonal rains in the area in November-December. But this is unlikely to impact wine production and supply as wineries have sizeable unsold stocks from previous years.
Mr Jadhav explained that "most of the wineries still have around 50%-60% of unsold wine lying in their tanks due to lower sales over the past three years. This years grape crop will contribute about 20%-30% of the wine production."
Mr Holkar hoped that the government would intervene quickly, to prevent dumping of wines by European producers who have good marketing and distribution channels.