Saturday, December 9, 2017

Customer is the New King; Real Estate's Mantra!








“For example, if I make money, I put it in real estate. I always did very well. Location, location, location”... Ivana Trump.
Ivana Marie Trump is a Czech-American businesswoman, former fashion model, author, and television personality. She was the first wife of Donald Trump.

“Home is where one starts from”…  T. S. Eliot.
Thomas Stearns Eliot, was a British essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and "one of the twentieth century's major poets". He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.

If you are confused why I used two quotes to start my sharing then let me know as the subject itself is fusion of two things, which on face may appear same but in actual are two totally different concepts. Yes I am referring to real estate & home, these two terms goes hand in hand yet real estate is to make money (read for builders) & a home, as Eliot said is not just physical thing but a feeling for everyone who aspires for it. At the same time for Ivana Trump (The Trump in name says it all) thinks home as real estate & for making good money, may it be location for her, which is one of the aspect of real estate. Joke is its sheer business entity named real estate where there is no place for feelings is the tool to make this feeling named home a reality for most, at-least that’s the scene in our country. People do need real estate to build homes but it’s the difference of attitude in both the parties i.e. builder & client (read home buyer) towards the term home is what given not so good image to the real estate, is a fact. On top of it post RERA, GST, Demonetization, in real estate major turmoil is being witnessed & the outcome is many top  names in  real estate are breaking down under debts, though if few names are in public yet in private rumors are being discussed about many others. Outcome is, investors of real estate lobby are panicked, so are the small depositors who have faced the burnt most as their day to day life used to be dependent on high interest by the builders even the Banks are keeping real estate in non priority segment. At the same time more in problem are the people who has booked their home (read flats) with projects in making & which are now being delayed for indefinite time; as they have to spend for their EMI’s as well their present rent & then they are not sure when their hard earned home will be in their possession?   

And then main problem is to know the reality of real estate as media keeps on publishing either paid news or the news which common man likes to read, for e.g. Demonetization, RERA & GST all these things will make the homes cheaper! So, now the question is common man is asking, where are the cheaper homes? At the same time builder lobby is blaming above three aspects for slowing down real estate & reason of delays in delivering ongoing projects! And on all such background Urban Development dept keeps bombarding real estate (if we call it as Industry) with every day some new policy, making the scene more chaotic. On all such topics my real estate blogger friend Ravi who is active to make people aware about real estate as well builders, asked me for an interview regarding financial conditions of the builders in market. And his first question was there are many big names in Pune real estate who have broke down under debts or financial burden & their depositors as well flat holders who have booked flat in ongoing projects are panicked, so what’s the fact  & what the new flat buyers shall look for before booking with a builder. It’s just one question but it covers entire real estate & for that we need to look in past to know about financial machinery of real estate, sharing here the interview’s gist in my words. Let me share that I am not a bit finance or marketing person when its real estate though I am in the field for last 25 years & will apply my analogy of engineering to answer the question is what I told at start.

Some 40 years back in early 70’s real estate started growing in Pune with fewer players & less raw material i.e. land. For years our govt was rural focused as we were Agriculture State & obviously most of the major policies were as per rural development & this made the govt neglecting needs of the cities like Pune & Nashik. Resulting lesser lands available for home making as well existence of a complex system for permissions of projects of buildings! On such background those few lucky gamblers (will explain why I used the term) who bought lands or got hold of such lands which eventually become builders has hit the jack pot. As demand was huge & supply of homes was less, so appreciation is more than twice or even thrice till the projects gets complete. This resulted hoard of aspirant builders as all one has to do is raise some finance & get the hold of land & launch the project, were the only criterion for becoming a builder (they are still same) as booking used to follow immediately after launching of the project. This made financers happy as banks were not funding to buy land unlike other industries; the builder has to get money via private financers, who were smart enough to milk the builders at high rate of interest. Then most builders’ greed got increased & they started to take bank loans on construction even when having booking money available for construction. This surplus money was used to buy more lands or for other businesses as they started considering themselves as has got success mantra of business just because they made money in real estate! Some were smart to buy lands with open eyes but most ended up buying lands with heavy rates considering future appreciation; so in a way on one project three charges got created, investor’s for land buying, flat buyer’s collection & project finance! But the scene was even with all these charges the project used to get successful due to rate appreciation as builders used to hike the rates in phases so covering the interest tally, which can go in totality nearly 40%!

Another aspect was, with rise of IT boom era, mostly all builders started making bigger, luxurious flats thinking, a client paying more money means more profit margins. This strategy was not in respect to the market needs of real estate as builders forgot that any market runs on affordable or budget product which is affordable home in case of real estate. As well on other side, the flat rates hike went on & on, taking the final product out of the budget for most flat buyers. At the same time there were hardly any innovations on the front of product development as home; for e.g. take first I Phone & I phone X, there has been extensive research as well advance technology to make the product more user friendly as well technology savvy but can we say so about home or flats? All what we got is change of specifications i.e. in 70’s there was mosaic tiled flooring, in 80’s there was kota, in 90’s ceramic tiles were in demand & in 2000’s we are having vitrified tiles flooring, that’s all! Same was on plumbing fittings & other aspects of home, nothing related to planning for cost cutting or use of advanced technologies, yet prices were rising only because of scarcity of land! One more aspect was less number of builders, because of hassles in land buying as well clearing process for the projects, making it a monopoly market for few names.

Though by late 2000 the real estate scene started changing as govt has realized majority vote banks are shifting in cities & their need was affordable homes. So the govt started thinking on making policies for creating more homes as increasing supply of homes was the only way to reduce the prices of the same. So the policy came by virtue of which even 20 acres agriculture land can be converted in to residential zone, a limit which was earlier available only for 100 acre area of land at one piece & which was beyond capacity of most builders. New land governing bodies like PMRDA has been bought in function to get more land under development around PMC & PCMC. At the same time finally a stage came when luxurious clients were done with their demands & whatever flats were available in the market was way beyond buying capacity of flat buyers as their need was small, budget flats which wasn't available. So the game of the real estate was changing slowly as no more bigger or luxurious flats were in demand,  appreciation has gone away from the lands prices, rates of ready possession flats has become steady & there is no more monopoly in the market with lots of options available for homes. I wonder how many builders understood this change & all those who kept on following old rules of the game they are the one who has come under financial burden!

And finally once rates of real estate have become steady, govt moved in with Demonetization, RERA & GST as check-mate for real estate. Out of this Pune market I doubt has anything to do with demonetization as here are real buyers with mostly loan based & no reason except sentiments why demonetization will hit them. About RERA it will act as a tool to assure the builders gives proper information as well service to his clients, so only the builders with ethical practices will remain in business. And now there is GST 12% on flats in making (though a builder is supposed to pass on the rebate to the client after the project is complete) but there is no GST for completed flats, so more & more people will prefer to buy flats (read homes) like any other commodity i.e. across the counter! Now does it mean one shouldn’t buy in making project; because with all efforts of the govt yet location remains the key criteria in real estate & there can be shortage of supply of homes in well developed areas! This can make people think to buy the flat in booking i.e. ongoing projects, so what care they should take? My reply is, knowledge is the key & track record of a builder doesn’t mean just how many projects the said builder has completed but in the way, he has completed those projects. Use social media which is available to you on your cell phone & gather as much information about the way builder has given service to his existing clients & then decide. Also ask the builder about his financial planning to complete the project, his liabilities as well assets & get this information crosschecked via professional people in the field & then only go ahead with the deal. Ask as much questions you want & don’t book unless you are satisfied with the builder & his team & if you don’t get proper response then “Don’t Book Flat With Such Builder”!  Here I will give simple example if you go to Swargate Bus Stand to catch a bus to Kolhapur then what you see first, a board on the bus displaying destination Kolhapur on it, right? Would you go & sit blindly in bus without any name board & expect it will take you to Kolhapur? No, is the answer any man with some common sense will give, well then why don’t you apply such common sense while booking a home which you will be getting after two or three years while you keep paying for the same, is what I will ask. At the same time keep in touch with the builder’s team while the construction of your flat is in progress & do ask if you feel the speed is not as per what has been committed to you, as that’s your right.  Even when you are buying a ready possession flat still there are many legalities involved as well services regarding maintenance & quality too, needs to be checked.

Lastly remember, no builder is doing any favor too you by giving committed possession or good service, it’s a fair deal, you pay & get service! But to identify such builder is your responsibility only, as we all have some wisdom & some foolishness in us. But problem is while buying small things like vegetables, we use our wisdom but when its buying our life time home we let the fool within prevail our decisions & then blame builder or real estate for making fool of us!   Days of real estate have changed & if you fail to understand, that as a customer you are now the king; then you don’t deserve to be a king in first place, is all I will say to conclude!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.
Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U Tube link below..

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)


http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)
 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below
www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Law-less City, Traffic Jam City; Where Is Smart City?





“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst”... Aristotle.

Well, Aristotle was not just famous for his great thinking or philosophy but to describe human behavior also which is key factor to build a society & that’s what differs a man from animals. Though if you look around the things happening on Pune city’s roads I bait animals are far better as a society than we the so called most intelligent animal, i.e. humans! And speaking about law & justice I wonder if we have left any as or else every day I open news paper & I get to read people fearing an individual’s might than the law as justice is not for common man is what most common men believes here. And why news paper, every day right from my morning ride to my badminton game I am on road at 7 am & till the time by 8 pm I come back home, I keep on witnessing numbers of examples where people hardly care for law & keeping every respect for my all friends in police, neither the so called law protectors cares for such law breakers! As right from not bothering for stopping at red signals & pushing ahead their two or four wheelers at full speed, not even caring for others or their own lives, so many Punkers’ I watch & I wonder where they want to go with such hurry? And police also are helpless, for two reasons, less manpower is one thing & lack of enthusiasm is another thing. Well, I do get frustrated by all this & the only thing I can do is write about it & share my frustration & my recent reason is two headlines in the news papers, of which I myself am victim of one of the news.

Where I live it’s on 100 ft wide DP road connecting Mhatre Bridge to Rajaram Bridge, in central part of Pune & this road runs parallel to river with huge green belt on river side. This whole green belt is  supposed to maintain as green zone actually, which is meant for conserving biodiversity in city centre & has very restricted uses as well has limitations on construction area within that zone. But present scene is all this has being used as marriage lawns, for commercial events & marriages of super riches as well social figures’ families in the city. And outcome is thousand of vehicles comes here every evening & chocks the entire stretch of two kilometers of this road which some years back was serene & quite. Last week-end all five/ six lawns were hosting marriages & on the top of it our dear PMC has started concretizing this very road, needless to say work is at typical PMC speed (read snail’s speed), so half part of road is unusable. Outcome was, mess would be a far sophisticated word to describe the situation of traffic in this area. Endless queues of every type of vehicles & constant honking of frustrated commuters, entire surrounding is filled by smoke emitting from exhausts of these vehicles & adding to fury, parking made in worst possible way on every corner of the road! And if all this wasn’t enough so there were processions (mirawnuka) going on i.e. “band, baja, baarat”, without which our marriages are incomplete. Lastly fire crackers with loud bangs filling the remaining void in making damage to human ears as well lungs! What was worst, not a single traffic police was there to manage this mess even after making hundreds of calls by residents around, nobody turned up & I didn’t blame them as I doubt whether even the police could have done any help such was the scene; as if one person breaks the law then you can hold him & punish but what if entire city breaks the law, then whom & how you will punish? Well, my answer is you are police, you punish entire city if entire city breaks the law! But seems no one is in the system to take such stand, as to punish entire city you need guts,  which definitely our law enforcement people lack, again with due respect why I am saying this has a reason, especially not just about this patch of the road but entire city traffic scene is such!

Reason is, just six months back the residents from the societies around these illegal lawns in the green belt has won the case against the pollution of sound as well garbage & air which is being generated by these marriage lawns & NGT i.e. National Green Tribunals Pune bench has ordered authorities to take action against these lawns. And not just pollution, most of these lawns have encroached blue line ie flood lines of rivers & built structures in river bed itself, the NGT has ordered to mark blue line & remove all such structures to the authorities but even after six months I am sorry to say nothing has been done & this week ends mess is outcome of negligence from the authorities which includes PMC, Pune Police, Pollution Control Boards & Irrigation department! Now tell me why the common citizen should believe in the terminology like Law & Justice! It’s not about just encroaching blue lines but many of the establishments in this green belt have build way more than what is allowed & hasn’t followed any parking norm, result is the road is open public parking space & for free! There are P1-P2 type sign boards (just for show) which not a single day has been followed by anybody as everybody knows traffic police doesn’t exists here! I am a civil engineer as well a builder too & I know the grind to design a building to accommodate present parking provisions but even with repeated pleas about the traffic jams, our Smart PMC turns a blind eye of all the illegal marriage lawn’s in the city, parking all the visitors vehicles on road as well footpath, thanks god they are not yet parking in their vehicles in our buildings which are adjoining to these lawns! And all traffic police does is make a visit when there is no event going on & reply the complainers as well to media that they have written to PMC about these lawns inadequate parking’s, but what about these lawns are illegal in first place, why no one is taking any action against them, is the question I will ask as a tax payer of this city! Also there is Mangeshkar Hospital ahead on this road & we will need air ambulance to get through this traffic mess as everyday some or other ambulance carrying or trying to reach some patient gets stuck in this traffic but the piercing siren doesn’t reach to deaf ears of the system named PMC or Police!

By the way in the very same order NGT has told to install garbage digesters as well effluent treatment plants to all these marriage lawns, which none of them has done yet & neither any PMC official has bothered to check the same & act. On the same lines why PMC doesn’t ask these lawns to have their own mechanized parking lots within their premise, if it hasn’t got guts to shut these marriage lawns? And this particular problem of parking is not of some DP road in the city but in entire State as traffic police takes action & punishes vehicles parked in “NO Parking Zones” (here at DP road that’s also not being done) instead why not punish such establishments which doesn’t provide parking for their visitors as per norms but use public roads as their private parking place? At the same time where are public parking reservations across the city, is the question every citizen should ask, as this so called Smart City neither offers good public transport nor the parking places for private vehicles, leaving the citizens to become victims of law enforcement for no fault of theirs!

On this back ground, there was one more news of traffic jam due to marriages in Smart suburb of Baner Balewadi & none other than our Ex Dy CM got stuck in traffic jam & snap was published of him using two wheeler on rear seat of one of his karykarta! Joke is marriage was of his part workers son only who is elected member from very same area, so now whom we should blame, Mr. Ex Dy CM? Do mind, common man would have been happy if you would slammed your karyakartas & party workers for blocking the roads by their illegal parking’s as well asked your party’s elected members to focus on the traffic/parking aspect of city than just attending their keen’s marriages!

One more thing I read in news paper that there is something like artificial light pollution at nights & especially when we are talking about green zones which are meant for conserving bio diversity (I wish someone really understands meaning of term biodiversity) this aspect is very important. As when we say bio diversity then we need to consider each species & as this green zone is near river then night birds like owls bats, insects & many other creatures like snakes, mongoose (which is common sight near rivers, even in city center) needs darkness at night time as part of their life cycle for activities like hunting. But with all the flood lights & thousand watts lighting for marriages it’s never dark night, in & around the green belts or rivers in the city & I am not biologist or zoologist but sure this bright light along with fire crackers at night hours is definite nuisance to all above mentioned creatures. Result is few years back there were colonies of bats on the trees along river which has been moved god knows where now, same is with owls! Well, who cares for few ugly birds like bats or owls, as what difference they make to our city life but my son’s or daughter’s marriage was talk of the town is more important for me, such is the mentality of our citizens! It’s a bitter fact & here is where role of PMC as an authority comes in picture as if this green belt is for maintaining bio diversity in city then what actions are being taken for preserving it?  

All such questions keep popping up in mind of every common man but none of the ruler has time to care for it. It seems our goddess of justice may be blind but not the people who are supposed to deliver the justice or else there would have been more respect in the eyes of every citizen for the law in this city! Till then, today it’s the birds which are going away from the green belts because our marriages & cars but the day isn’t long when no human will be able to set foot on the roads as there won’t be space left from the parking’s of our cars & bikes. And yes one more thing, oxygen also would become rare for our lungs as the air will be full of those vehicles carbon exhausts & that day we will start planning for humans & birds, which would be too late!


--

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U Tube link below..

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org


Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Friday, November 24, 2017

Real Estate, Post RERA !



“In law a man is guilty when he violates the rights of others. In ethics he is guilty if he only thinks of doing so”… Immanuel Kant.


Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who is a central figure in modern philosophy. Kant argued that the human mind creates the structure of human experience, that reason is the source of morality, that aesthetics arises from a faculty of disinterested judgment, that space and time are forms of human sensibility, and that the world as it is "in-itself" is independent of man's concepts of it. Well, rights of others, ethics, morality & all these terms which Kant was interested in, seems when our real estate or people related to it (read builders), are least interested in, at least our govt thinks so & even society or common man agrees to it! Many of my fellow developers won’t like my statement but that’s what fact is as recently none other than our union housing minister himself twitted saying real estate is bad business & the reason is he being questioned about RERA implications on real estate! By now Real Estate Regulation Act nicknamed as RERA has become the most searched word than any property in our country & after nearly a decade waiting finally this year it has been implemented by Central Govt & accordingly by most States, with some modifications or alterations in the respective State. Maharashtra was first to form RERA authority & web site in place for registration & though as usual real estate industry lacks factual data yet I assume maximum registrations have been made under RERA in our State, showing our keenness for law abiding. Since long there has been numerous complaints from the clients of real estate industry, who were unprotected & being given ill treatment (read tortured) by the developers & there has been laws/ acts at State level like MOFA (Maharashtra Flat Ownership Act) but due to non availability of any authority than honorable courts in place, any complaint or dispute between flat holders i.e. buyers & the developers used to get dragged on for years & often it’s the buyer which used to become victim of this situation. To regulate the real estate sector, the government has come up with the idea of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Bill which is expected to help buyers. RERA is supposed to protect the interest of the homebuyer and ensure timely delivery of projects. Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) Bill was introduced in 2013 and finally the bill got approved in March last year. Although RERA is a central law, its implementation will depend on state governments, as real estate is a state subject. Maharashtra government had approved the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA). The deadline for online submission of realty projects under RERA was, July 31, 2017 & finally RERA has arrived in our State, its applicable for mostly every for every project where real estate development is being done in any form i.e. residential, commercial, co-operative societies, layout of plots & any such development. There is lots of information available on many portals about RERA & its applicability, so no point in using more word space here, let’s get in to the scene before RERA & now after nearly six months of its entry in real estate…
Since last few years even before RERA is applicable, real estate industry was going through a downfall & its reasons were multidimensional i.e. from constantly rising prices of raw material i.e. land to a slowdown in auto as well IT industries (read job cutting or recession) & do mind, though out of three basics, “roti, kapda aur makan”, the “Makan” i.e. home remains a top priority in our country for every family yet its affordability is equally difficult for most so its first on wish list by desire but last by pricing involved in the process! And hassles in buying a home(read legal home) are many, right from selecting a location, to get a developer with clean track record & then obtain home loans & then wait for getting possession in time & pay EMI’s which can unbalance your monthly budgets, so many fronts has to be considered before you finalize a home. And then off-late due to slow down many unprofessional entities, which has entered in real estate just to make more money has been reluctant to stick to their commitments to the customers which has spent their life time’s earning to buy a home. As well the policies of govt were opening up land use i.e. promoting more land to come under residential or buildable zone so as to remove appreciation factor from the real estate thus the profits were on reducing mode. And on the other hand govt keeps on squeezing real estate as milking cow in the form of every possible premium, taxes; policies like ever increasing stamp duty & ready reckoner rates. And at the same time production costs went on soaring with very high labor costs making cutting down the margin in real estate. All this made new launchings to slow down, delayed possessions of ongoing projects & real estate was in real cash crunch, which it has never experienced! And as a general practice of real estate utilizing funds from one project’s booking to another project or for new land buying, was common thing. The main reason for this is unlike other industries, banks don’t finance builders to buy lands so he has to use the available funds with him which mostly are in form of bookings from ongoing projects.

And then came RERA to straighten up the builders is what it has been advertised & it will take away the high profit margins from the builders, “just wait a little to book your home as prices are going to crash, that’s why we have bought RERA”, was the message sent to common man & booking stopped totally for a while! Lets understand, RERA does not & won’t ever decide rates of real estate but it’s a tool given to the customers to secure his rights towards the product he is getting i.e. a home. Do mind, no law can change any industry but it’s up to us how we are going to make use of the law to get that change in the industry & so is RERA! Common man was tiered of not being able to have any dialogue with builder or builders hiding the facts about the projects, such as sanctions, noc’s required by various govt depts., financing mode & all such details about the project. Actually all these details were part of the deal especially for a product for which you are paying today & the product will be delivered to you after two or three years! Unlike in any industry where you pay upfront & take home the product which you have paid for from the counter, may it be even a posh luxury car like Mercedes & that’s why other industries never needed such transparency about their industry functioning as whether any auto industry is in financial troubles or has acquired all necessary permissions for manufacturing, these questions are irrelevant when the customer is buying car of that company across the counter & in finished form, which isn’t the case with real estate industry!  Though still in our State situation is far better than other States, yet we too had (or have) our share of ill elements in the real estate, damaging image of entire fraternity named developers. Had it not been so then look around in our Pune city, agreed there may be people harassed by the developers on their home front but then there are definitely many more in numbers who are residing happily in their residences  built by some builder only & joke is, these are the people who writes against the builders! The govt thought of bringing in RERA thinking to make the builders or the real estate industry more transparent about the product, mainly on two fronts, possession commitments & financial mismanagement i.e. making the builder more accountable for the same. One more important aspect is, all the information regarding project will be available on-line & more than that an authority is in place to solve the dispute between the builder & the client in time!

This arrangement will definitely make the real estate transparent but do remember builders will be builders unless until the client don’t get aware by themselves & use the law to improve the system. At the same time real estate clients must understand, this weapon named RERA is to facilitate the bond between the clients & the builders & not to damage it further as any weapon works two ways always. I think that RERA will assure that only the builders, who stay committed to what they have promised, will remain in the business provided as clients you also remain aware about what has been promised to you. As earlier also there was MOFA & yet it was unable to protect the customers from the builders as no law on its own can protect anybody but we have to make use of that law in such way that no builder will dare to break the law & cheat clients! A builder, who stick to commitments & knows what is ethics & does the business with right mind would not been affected in any way by the RERA & neither he will be afraid of it rather I am happy that RERA will help the good builders to remain in business as well to curb the bad ones! Just one aspect here, can RERA be applicable to govt also? As when its question of transparency, commitments & ethical practices then look at the ever changing policies of our govt regarding real estate, making business nearly impossible. Right from delay in sanctioning development plans of the cities to providing basic civic infrastructure like water, roads, power, drainage etc, govt is failing on every front, so why not make the govt also party to RERA as in the form of collecting all the taxes as well premiums, govt also is beneficiary from real estate development is a fact!

Lastly as Kant said, there were ethical builders & non ethical builders, there are ethical builders & non ethical builders & there will be ethical builders & non ethical builders; all that a client has to do is deal only with the right builder & to judge that what better tool than RERA can be there!

-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U Tube link below..

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani ! (Click the links below)



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Sunday, November 19, 2017

No Development Zone or Illegal Homes Farming Zone!






“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.”... Socrates.

Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers who were his students & just one name is enough i.e. Plato! And his above quotes shows his concern as well importance of applying minds in planning cities as it’s here the societies are supposed to live & grow! But unfortunately keeping due respect for everyone’s wisdom, who is associated with our city’s planning (and intentions too) what’s ever steps we are taking for making our city a better place to live is working out to be a nightmare or a bad joke! Not convinced, take the latest salvo fired by our urban planning authorities & again they are going to miss the target which they have aimed & as usual besides doubtful implementation of such policy thousands of innocents only are going to get hurt in the process, I am referring to new GR about No Development up to 100’ distance from the base of any hills in the city. Though the policy is applicable to entire State but the effect is more devastating in city like Pune which has huge real estate development going all around & the city has numbers of hills rather Pune has been developed around the hills only! In such situation, first banning no development on hills or hills slopes & now even on plains but at the foot hills also no development till 100’ distance, I wonder have we left with any brains around or not!

No, I am not saying destroy hills, neither I am saying allow buildings on hills as if I say so then I will be hanged on the top of the hills for sure, but when we say no development on the hills or hills slopes or now at the bottom of hills also then it means stop legal development; as in this country permission is required only to those who asks for it; rest all whatever & wherever has been built without permission get regularized eventually & this is what my main reason of anger, frustration whatever you call it! As if we are so very keen about conservation of hills & bio-diversity around then in first place we would not have become like Gandhiji’s three famous monkeys regarding, every possible destruction that is happening right under our nose to our very hills as well streams & rivers, which are only possible spaces to retain biodiversity. And where we can’t stop (read we don’t want to stop) encroachment of these spaces which are ownership of every citizen of this city then we concertize whatever remaining is left or make road from rivers & hills as that’s allowed because we are planning authority & we can do anything as right or wrong is applicable for the builders or citizens who obeys or respects law, which isn’t applicable for so called authorities! And that’s why we allow slums to mushroom on every hill or hill slopes or around the hills, we allow these illegal slum dwellers to build roads to reach every single hutment of such slums, we lay water lines, we provide electricity as well we build Samaj Mandir also from our elected corporator’s funds in such slums, we build public toilets & what not, after all these slum residents are also respectable citizens of this city & more than that they are vote bank, so what if their slum is illegal & build without any permission on a hill but we didn’t sanctioned that slum, mind it! But yes we the sanctioning authorities are very strict when some poor fellow who has his piece of land near foot of any hill now & who has bought that land confirming it’s a residential zone as per our Mai Baap PMC’s development plans, now with this new GR we won’t allow a single sq inch of construction on such land, only if he has come to seek sanction! Rather why the fool has come for asking permission, doesn’t he know that nobody needs any permission to build anything on such reservations or no development zones in our city (just calling some land bio diversity park doesn’t make it so). All he has to do is get help of some Mananiya or local Bhai & start making layout of plots here or simply allot the land to hutments & take nice monthly rent from the occupants. He need not have to even spend for architects fees, pay PMC for sanctioning charges, not even required to make budegt for roads, water lines, drainage lines or electric cables as all this will eventually follow with the kindness of our Mai Baap Sarkar which takes special care of illegal homes as they are Special Citizens of this city after all!

I am not against illegal homes, as I know the problems to have a legal home under your ownership for a common man & then I can’t afford to do oppose illegal homes when the govt itself supports them; I am just asking whether we really want to save our hills & rivers? As all we do is apply some insane logic & form a policy & print a GR that, from tomorrow no development in 100’ distance from bottom of hills! And we say it’s as per the instruction of NGT i.e. National Green Tribunal, it’s indeed doing great job for nature conservation but it is not a planning authority, we must accept this fact! All NGT says is save your hills & for that make some policy which will work & take action to save the hills & all we do is issue a GR which is applicable to only those who cares for it or respects the law! Or else the very same NGT in one matter has given instruction to mark flood line along the river & remove every structure under the flood line, well till date neither the flood line has marked nor the structures has been demolished by PMC! On the contrary the society which has fought for illegality in green belts along the river has to spend again for implementing Execution Order by NGT! but is some genuine person will go & ask for permission along the river bed then immediately his file will be rejected; I am against this attitude of the system named govt which has many faces with names such as PMC, PMRDA, Town Planning etc etc. And which mostly makes only the law obedient citizen suffer under the name of policy to protect environment & such thing than taking proper action which will actually save the environment around us. 

Joke is like we don’t have flood lines marked along the river, in first place we don’t have even exact hill lines marked on the ground so how we will be defining 100’ distance from the bottom of hills? Rather we don’t have even hills properly marked on map or ground in this city is a bitter fact! Another news said (all such important policies related to city, even the developers who are part of the development comes to know through the media only) that no FSI or compensation will be given for any such affected land in this 100’ distance from foot of the hills! Just great, first I will grab your land & then I won’t give you any compensation because it’s now No Development Zone, so how can be FSI or TDR will be given for the same! More great news is, whatever sanctioned structures till now are there they will be as it is but no further TDR or additional permissible FSI till yesterday was allowed here won’t be sanctioned! What about the feasibility of such projects & the people who has booked flats here, who will compensate for their losses? Are we running a developed urban govt or we have become infamous Badshah Tughlak, who to rule by his insane whims, is the question I will ask? And most importantly who says that making something as No Development Zone serves the purpose for what it has been made so; check out history of urban planning & you will understand nature is conserved only by allowing proper controlled development around it & not by banning entire developments! Look at cities like, San-Francisco or Singapore or Hong Kong, all these cities are on or around the hills & all these cities have conserved wonderful biodiversity right around & on the hills with permissible development along! Why can we copy such existing successful models around than doing something illogical that will not only kill the real estate industry but not going to serve the purpose? And when we have list of failures & we know that we won’t be able to protect such no development zones with the kind of existing bunch of people we have in the system! And then why the no development zone for just 100’ from foots of hills, why not 500’ or 50’? What study has been made to drive this distance as well why not such polices has been published in media before implementing as well not been discussed with professionals in the field of urban planning? Rather I feel someone up high wants such no development zones created all along the city so more illegal homes will get created on these no development zones & so there will be more vote banks assured!

Every day govt comes with some new policy may it be sand digging from rivers or development on hill tops hill slopes (this is still pending in DP of city) or height of buildings or development TDR on Metro Corridor; so many issues are directly killing development of this city (and citizens, including developers). And shame is with all so called brains in the system, we are unable to frame a comprehensive & final policy for our city, leading to chaos & confusion amongst the citizens & architects & developers is the scene! Today its 100’ No Development Zone policy around hills, tomorrow there will be something different; so many questions pops up in the mind, every time when I get to come across such absurd urban policies by our govt, not just as a developer or engineer but as a common citizen of this very city which I love & wants to see it as a beautiful place where nature will grow along with people. And I think govt has to answer these questions as that’s price of my vote; if every citizen stood strong & demands his compensation to the govt then only there is some chance for better future of our city!
-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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