Sunday, July 23, 2017

PMC, PMRDA & 34 Villages; Reloaded!






“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”  Jane Jacobs.

So many times the wise lady has helped me with her fathomless treasure of quotes, especially when the subject is about the city; I am referring to Jane Jacobs, writer of ,” Life & Death of Great American Cities”. Unfortunate is most of the time my subject is related to our beloved great Pune city & which every day is inching towards the death, courtesy our Mai Baap Sarkar! Well, may be the Sarkar i.e. Govt & which comes under the names of Urban Development or PMC or our elected members, itself wants the city that way is what now I am starting to believe. Those who may not agrees with me they can check the news paper headlines about the city (I mean Pune & Pimpri Chinchwad) or why take effort to even read, just have a round of our city at any hour of the time & tell me what you saw? Roads chocked by traffic at any hour of the time & footpaths encroached leaving no space for pedestrians (if there are footpaths), don’t look at road surface condition by the way & then every corner garbage bins over flowing, people jumping signals as no one fears cops & CC TV cameras are non functional mostly, road signage covered by faces of local so called leaders banners &  if you happen to visit any public hospital of school on way then have a look you will get idea of the services the city offers to its taxpaying citizens. One more thing try using public toilets if you got nature’s call on your city ride, that’s some experience you will remember for long, I can assure! And though the city is surrounded by serene hills (in past, I meant) yet don’t look at the hills as now they are mostly covered by slums, outcome of our biodiversity park policy (will cover that later)! Yes a solace is the city has some real good parks/gardens, thanks to some good people in garden department of PMC. Well this is scene in main city, now go to fringe areas i.e. the suburbs & beyond, let me inform you if you are wondering whether you have come to some village then yes you are but now these villages are part of city! Though few of the suburbs are part of the city now for more than ten years yet they do give you a feel of village by the roads, open drainage & no basic civic facilities around. If you can, then do speak with the residents in the multi storied buildings here & they will give you more clear picture of our city, right form no water in many of the societies to no play grounds for the kids to no street lights in place on the roads, the will tell you many stories about their battle with the system named govt, to have even basic things like proper motorable road to their society. And all these residents are law abiding tax paying honest citizens, mind it!

Now you will know why I said the city inching towards death, though still this city is attraction of millions from not only this State but from all over the country. You will wonder why, then reason is simple as still people  believes this is one of the best city for settling down & making career as this city offers jobs as has good weather & environment! And still by our super boss govt in Delhi this city is in top five cities in the country so it has been given as Second Smartest City in the entire country (now you must be wondering about the conditions of other cities in the country as if this city can be tagged as 2nd smartest in the country)! Well, reason of this sharing is just few days back I wrote about the villages around the city to be merged in PMC i.e. Pune Municipal Corporation, a civic body which is like guardian of the city. And in week’s time I am writing again like a sequel to the write up so I am calling it as PMC, PMRDA & 34 Villages; Reloaded! As finally the govt agreed to merge the villages in PMC but as usual in its weird or bizarre way; because the news says in first stage it will merge only 11 villages out of 34 marked villages. Joke is even out of these 11 villages 9 were already merged in PMC some fourteen years back, so practically only 2 villages have been decided to merge in stage one! Now don’t ask who makes such jokes in deciding policy as important as deciding life or death of a city, rather I will ask why someone makes such policy? As the question “why?” has many dimensions here & they are out of imagination for any wise man leave apart common men like you & me! Well, one main dimension (hidden) is illegal constructions & our ruler’s attitude towards this aspect of real estate. Immediately when the news of 34 villages part merging came on very next day State Govt published its agenda to regularize illegal constructions. And behold even the illegal constructions which has been made on reservations like play grounds, gardens, roads, even Metro route can be regularized, provided the reservation is shifted legally to other land! After reading all such news, I wonder if the word “legally” has any sanctity left in this State because whatever is illegal today eventually it becomes legal after some time is what we have been witnessing in real estate! As with such news & govt itself allowing building you anywhere as per your wish, then not taking remaining 23 villages makes sense as in a way our rulers have given illegal entities a green signal to go ahead & build wherever they want to build in these remaining villages. Another joke in the draft for regularizing illegal buildings is whatever development charges etc are due for such buildings will be recovered from the concerns before making these buildings legal! Well to whom we are convincing about possibility of such recoveries as the builders of such buildings are long gone & the flat holders can barely pay their home loan installments, will they be paying these building charges to PMC or PCMC?

As with this latest joke of today just getting 11 villages & remaining 23 in span of three years, question is who will be responsible for illegal constructions in these 23 villages for the next three years? This is like, I have chosen a smart, cute & healthy child which is an orphan & want to adopt it, is what I declare today. But I will adopt it by taking its full responsibility after three years & that too only if the child remains smart, cute & healthy, in those three years is the condition I will put! I wonder who will allow you to adopt child at such terms, but our Govt is Boss here so if it can make legal constructions illegal then adopting norms is very minor formality for it to mend them as per convenience of the govt! Worst part is nobody in entire system raised the question that when every concerned person has sent report in favor of merging all 34 villages & when even govt says yes for the merging then, what is the point in merging these villages, in stages. So now the PMC will have third DP i.e. development plan for 11 villages & then after 3 years we will have fourth DP for the remaining 23 villages, wow just wow!  As with the track record which we have to make DP’s & gets them in execution I am sure next thirty years we will be busy in making DP’s of PMC with this way of merging & then Mai Baap Govt is there to keep improving their definition of legal constructions! Now at least some sensible person (there are few alive around yet) in the system should guide all the concerned persons to make a full & final DP of entire PMC old limit along with these 34 villages. Let it take one or two years but whatever we will plan it will be covering aspect of entire & during this time span apply the present DC rules for extended villages as per new DP. At the same time set up separate cell in PMC to keep watch on the construction as well developments in these new villages because right now neither PMRDA nor PMC is having any set up to keep control on any illegal or even legal constructions here. And even if we demolish later on so called illegal structures then the main culprits are gone & only the residents become victim though they must book their home only in legal structure is also a fact.

The people who are residing in these villages expects nothing great but just basic infrastructure necessary for living in place & they need it fast. As each of them gives this city some service by the job or profession he or she is in & in return what this city gives them back; is the question I will ask to every person who is part of the so called govt & who is involved in the merging decision of the villages! It’s said that experience is what we learn from our past mistakes but it seems our rulers are not ready to gain any experience as we are repeating the same mistakes again & again. As out of these 11 villages 9 were already merged partially in PMC some fourteen years back & now we are merging whatever has left. By deciding to merge the remaining 23 villages in stages we are proving that what kind of fools we are. As if we can take so important decision which will hamper entire future of this city keeping in mind interests of just a bunch of people then sure we are hell bend on killing this city. Because as the Jen Jacobs has said, city’s fate is decided by the peoples who live in it & not by some PMC or PMRDA. High time for our rulers to understand this basic fact in urban planning or else by the time we complete our planning then it will be too late is all I can say!
-- 


Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

PMPML, Mr. Tukaram Mundhe & Pune!








“The curse of me and my nation is that we always think things can be bettered by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort”.... Plato.

Plato was a great philosopher in Classical Greece and the founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the most pivotal figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition. No wonder the curse he mentioned which actually is attitude, is real strength of ancient Greece which made it flourish as one of the most cultured & advanced country in entire Europe. And what we today lack here in our country is that curse though we have many cursed people here which do think that things can be bettered by immediate action & one very recent is right in our Pune city whose name is Tukaram Mundhe! Yes the guy is cursed with many things & worst is he wants to improve the system in which he is posted. Well, that makes him marked as a wrong man in wrong place & no wonder in service of some ten years he has been transferred equal number of the years he has spent in service lucrative as IAS i.e. Indian Administrative Service! Millions of youngsters aspire for this tag & every year only a handful hundred gets through such is charisma of this service. Though it’s not that tag but what you do with the power which comes along with IAS tag is what defines you & Mundhe seems to be cursed exactly here; as he do what he likes to do most i.e. action to give justice to his job at hand!

No, I am not chamcha of Mr. Tukaram Mundhe nor I am a PMPML employee or suppler or bus contractor, in fact whatever little I know about him is mostly through common circles of system named as Govt as well through the news papers. For those who don’t know Mr. Tukaram Mundhe, IAS, he is presently Chairman (read top boss) of Pune’s & Pimpari Chinchwad’s i.e. PMC & PCMC’s public transport system formerly known as PMT.

Before coming in Pune Mr. Mundhe was Municipal Commissioner of New Mumbai & there too he went after illegal constructions, a subject which every ruler publicly condemns but supports, when it’s time to act. No wonder that he got transferred before his tenure gets completed & dumped at most unwanted post in beurocracy i.e. chief of PMPML. I said most unwanted as either govt doesn’t wanted anybody to get appointed at this post or the person who joins thinks this post is useless, so no IAS guy has worked here in past for long, rather many preferred not to join at this post in first place! But as Mr. Tukaram Mudhe has curse of making the system better, he not only joined at PMPML but started taking action to make PMPML better & that’s what made many people uneasy. Especially the rulers of the city got disturbed, who thought nothing in this city moves without their wish & public busses are not exception to this rule! Just to explain you the way Mr. Mundhe thinks or his attitude will share what I read in new paper when he joined… When the news came of his order at PMPML, the staff supposedly burn fire crackers & distributed sweets & when Mr. Mundhe has been asked about it, he candidly said, “I am amused as usually when I leave some post then only people distributes sweets!“ I think nothing more is needed to be said about the way this guy works! Well let’s see what was the scene of PMPML before Mr. Mundhe took charge…

Pathetic, is the only word which could have described the PMPML’s condition when Mr. Mundhe took the charge of it. And I am not blaming the people working in that system as there are some sincere faces in PMPML (even now) who are willing to work but the entire web of the system in & around PMPML is such that one wonders whether the rulers really wanted it to improve or not? Right from not giving a full time capable IAS officer as super boss to holding back the funding of PMPML every possible thing was being done by PMC & PCMC, which supposedly have to play parental role to PMPML. Agreed the public transport system has to be self sufficient by making profits from its operation but then you need to provide basic infrastructure. Even a kid needs to be feed & look after till it learns to walk on its feet & here we are talking about an organization which is supposed to provide transportation to millions of people. And what we got, PMC & PCMC has failed to provide even proper place to park the busses of PMPML, making them stand in exposed weather on roads, defeating the very purpose of reducing the burden of vehicles on the city roads. And without giving any support financial or physical yet we expect PMPML should serve the citizens at par with bus system like BEST in Mumbai if not that of Singapore! Decades back there were two organizations conducting separate public transport systems for PMC & PCMC which later were combined under name of PMPML. This was done with a noble thought that as both cities are like twin cities it will be helpful to have one public transport system, making it easier for operating its routes. But it seems both municipal corporations’ abandoned this child & outcome is today’s PMPML’s condition. Poor busses, worst bus stops, no schedule, arrogant staff (barring a few), rampant driving without following any traffic rules (red signal jumping is most common with PMPML drivers) & what not when it comes to bad service for the commuter, has become specialty of PMPML. Joke is its easier for any person to travel by public transport in a country like France where language is a problem but travelling by PMPML was more difficult as you never know the bus comes from where or goes to which destination & at what time as there is no time table displayed anywhere on any bus stop, if you are standing on any PMPML bus stop, so how you are going use its service? Worst thing was entire staff of PMPML was behaving like they are answerable to no one as there wasn’t any one who will establish discipline! Then there was issue of busses on contract which were running on the will & wish of the contractor & not by the need of commuters. Most of these busses were often standing idle as poor maintenance & yet rent was being charged  by these contractors, in short the entire PMPML was like a huge wooden castle with just fa├žade in place & the core being eaten by termite which came in many forms! Biggest joke was the marketing or promotion tag line of PMT was, “Wat pahin pan PMT nech jain” i.e. “I will wait but will use PMT only”; means you are in a way accepting or warning commuter that if you want to use PMPML then be ready to wait! Except those who can’t afford to have even a two wheeler they only left to travel by public transport in the city; resulting every road, parking area in the city is occupied with vehicles & we have been tagged as maximum numbers of vehicles per head in country. And then to accommodate these vehicles what PMC as well PCMC does is increase parking norms for buildings making construction costlier as well build more fly over, make existing road wide that’s all! And on top of it we keep on doing jokes like having BRTS routes in place (that is bigger joke) but not enough busses in first place. We conveniently forget the basic principle of urban planning that, bigger roads is not solution to traffic but proper public transport is the only answer. And now with latest fad named Metro we think all will be ok in the city, which again is like mirage in dessert. To make public bus transport strong is the only solution to Pune’s many civic problems.

I think the kind of negative things written about PMPML in all types of media are so much that, the organization can surely enter Guinness Book Record with it! And it’s on all such background our cursed Mr. Mundhe took over as boss of PMPML; and with day one, as he is a man of action all hell broke loose at PMPML. Right from suspending people under disciplinary action to not attending meetings of elected members his all such acts were enough to rub many people (read rulers) at wrong place & in first three months only there were talks of requests to Hon CM to replace him! One look at PMPML’s busses, bus stops as well depots & you will know why people avoid travelling by our public transport which actually is face of any city! Right from making the PMPML staff a disciplined lot to reduce the losses of the organization & most importantly to regain the lost confidence of commuters on PMPML, many things has to be done simultaneously. And Mr. Mundhe is doing just that. The latest PMPML App on smart phones which will give idea about the busses time table & routes is the outcome of Mr. Mundhe's sincere efforts. Or else just one year back who could have believed that PMPML’s time table can be made available for commuters on smart phone click! As usual the rulers in PMC & PCMC has their own agenda for PMPML & which doesn’t go in hand with Mr. Mundhe's agenda so to block the funds for PMPML to writing to Hon Cm to call back Mr. Mundhe to abusing him , every tactics is being used by our elected members which are our rulers too! But high time by media & people to stand with Mr. Mundhe as a strong public transport system is the only hope left to kill the monster named traffic in this city & for that we need cursed personality like Mr. Mundhe (just the way Harry Potter, the cursed child was to kill Voldomart, sorry please read Harry Potter books to understand the reference)

Unfortunately people like Mr. Tukaram Mundhe forgets that in the govt system a person is judged by his actions & not by intentions! And what are Mr. Mundhe’s intentions, all he wants is what common citizen of Pune wants i.e. a safe, reliable public bus service which will make life easier. And speaking about actions let me remind you, when the patient is in ICU then you need to inject every possible drugs you have in the patient’s body; as PMPML is in CICU i.e. critical intensive care unit, all we have to do is give Doctor Tukaram Mundhe a free hand to make it survive & be fit soonest!

-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
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Friday, July 14, 2017

PMC, PMRDA & 34 Villages; Dobara!





“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
 …R. Buckminster Fuller.

Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor. Considered as one of the greatest minds of his times, Fuller published more than 30 books related to science, innovation & planning. It’s people like Fuller & many others who are real asset of United States & more than that the country rulers listened to what these minds said that’s why today USA is one of the most advanced country on the front of infrastructure as well innovations. It’s unfortunate that we have minds at par with Fuller but their words goes to deaf ears, blind eyes & dead brains of the system named govt.  If you are wondering what I am referring to then its latest (actually age old issue but still latest as its not solved) of merging the villages around Pune city. This city I just love for the mess or chaos it creates & loves to keep them alive, may it be Metro or Balbharati Road or 24x 7 water supply scheme or PMT i.e. public transport improvement, years come & went but we just keep on discussing & considers our self as smartest citizen around if not city! The merging of villages around PMC i.e. Pune Municipal Corporation is one such dear subject for all segments; right from media to political parties & now it has one more contender in form of planning authority i.e. PMRDA. For those who are yet ignorant (fortunately) then let me give background; PMRDA  i.e. Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority is planning body which is formed to look after uncontrolled growth around two municipal corporations, Pune & Pimpri Chinchwad which popularly are known as PMC & PCMC. Now don’t ask where the development has been getting controlled even now, as in our urban dictionary we have yet to understand what is growth, what is development & we end up calling swelling as growth & development of the city!

Coming back to the subject, few years back there was a movie named “Once up on a time in Mumbai” which did good business on box office, so its sequence was bound to come & it did come with the name “Once up on a time in Mumbai, dobara” (dobara means again or repeat). Well on similar lines there are many sequels of above popular issues regarding the city, though the star cast keeps changing. Like, few months back when PMRDA got in function (many will ask, has it?) then the very same issue of merging 34 villages (don’t ask why 34 & why not 24 or 54?)  was in lime light, then also I have wrote about it & now nearly after one year again the same issue is there in news, so I kept the heading same just added “Dobara” in-front of it! Now many will ask so what has happened in one year, well nothing is simple answer but somebody has filed a case about merging the villages in PMC & development in these areas, in Hon High Court. On this Hon HC gave directions to the Mai Baap State govt to file its say with some man date about what is Govt’s stand on this issue. The Govt has already enough troubles at hand so as usual series of meetings of senior officers in Urban Development, Revenue, PMC started & 34 villages ball kept rolling from one dept to another. In this year one more thing happened the rulers in PMC got changed (not that it has made any effect to citizens) but it definitely matters to the decision of merging of these 34 villages as in our country it’s not right or wrong which decides any course of action but mood or convenience of some bunch of people (read party) is the deciding factor! It seems that the present rulers of the city has different plans for these 34 villages, so one point has been raised that to make basic civic infrastructure (again don’t ask means what) available in just these 34 villages which has been spread over nearly some 300 sq kms, approximately Rs 5500 crores will be required & how PMC will be raising this amount? From where this figure of development cost has come I don’t know as I read it in news papers & it seems to be worked out by PMC officials only.

Now one very basic question comes to mine as well common man’s mind is, if this much amount is being required to develop civic infrastructure in these 34 villages then if PMC don’t have those funds then who has it? Does it means that not merging these villages in PMC will be solving the problem of infrastructure & if yes how? As this is just facing-off from the responsibilities by PMC, agreed which has already its own  enough problems but is PMRDA capable of giving infrastructure to not just 34 villages but its entire jurisdiction which spreads over 300 sq kms? And if yes then who is analyzing the PMRDA for its outcome since the formation? The PMRDA which has been formed to take care of development outside of PMC/PCMC area, it will have to raise this money ( just 34 villages I am referring to), so how & when this is going to happen & till that time what residents of these villages are supposed to do? As now more than one year PMRDA is in place & in this time span city hasn’t stopped swelling (sorry as can’t use the term growing) but scene earlier & later is same. Still in entire these 34 villages there are no well maintained or even basic roads, no drainage lines, no public transport, no schools or hospitals (govt I mean), no gardens or play grounds where the kids can play , people throws garbage where ever they wish; frankly there is nothing  we can consider as essential for a residence. Developments are there but in bits & pieces & mostly done by private establishments right from school to hospitals even roads! Such developments are not enough at the same time it adds burden on the pockets of the developers as well the residents & we except affordable housing! 

And one more thing, have any of us ever thought kids of our maid or driver goes to which school & who is their doctor? Well, they all goes to PMC schools mostly or aided schools & public medical facilities, so what about such necessities in these 34 villages, so who is going to provide it & operate them?  I don’t blame PMRDA administration for this scene as they do have wish & will but unfortunately that isn’t enough for infrastructure building; the boost has to come from top level i.e. the Govt sitting in Mumbai HQ named Mantralay. For e.g. water is becoming grave factor for entire real estate industry & Pune has as many four dams which are being used to last drop so from where PMRDA region development is going to get water including  these 34 villages? This question itself nobody asks leave apart trying to find solution for water supply. So where the money which has been collected under the name of development charges or premiums while sanctioning these building has gone, is what people are asking! And especially on the background of Baner water supply court matter where Hon High Court has given interim stop work to sanction of all the new projects in Baner Balewadi area; no wonder these 34 villages will follow the same fate if we don’t act fast, is writing on wall! In some part developers have come together & doing roads in their areas where they are having projects & PMRDA is supporting the concept but then cities don’t get built up by this concept, some parts yes. The need of the time is one strong force or authority backed up with financial decision making & a realistic development plan in place.

Then there is issue of controlling encroachments in all these villages, as we have experienced what happens to all the encroachments few years down the line. One classic case is present issue of ring road in PCMC of which acquisition is now virtually become impossible because of years of encroachment on lands reserved for the ring road. In these 34 villages also we may make rosy development plans but if we don’t execute them fast then at present with no infrastructure for the governing body no one can guaranty that all the so called reserved spaces/ lands will remain available when the time comes for development of the same. For decades we have witnessed that first buildings gets constructed then people come in to live in these buildings & then roads get built & the street lights come & then the very same roads get dug & water as well drainage line gets laid & then things like gardens, hospitals, public schools comes in picture & public transport ropes in last if at all it comes! With all these 34 villages around PMC we still have a fairly clean slate to write a new chapter in city planning by working reverse way of what we have been used to do under the name of so called urban development; let’s not waste the opportunity or else our future generation will never forgive us for this urban sin!

There is another thought process of forming a separate Municipal Corporation for these 34 villages which I feel is not a practical solution because these are on periphery of Pune all around. To form a municipal corporation you need a cohesive piece of land where as these villages are scattered all around & it will be difficult to manage their development as well day to day administration if they are gathered as separate entity as Municipal Corporation. Imagine one suburb or one ward of PMC is situated beyond PCMC, how difficult it will be to lay the services like water & drainage to this part of PMC or even to accommodate such suburb in DP of PMC; same will be the scene if we make separate body for the 34 villages as they are not interconnected.

The joke is yet the buildings are mushrooming in & around of these 34 villages (urban concentration camps) & people are living in these buildings without any such facility; just because people have no choice when it comes to getting a home in their budget! And these people are not fools who are living in the buildings in the 34 villages as these are sanctioned projects we are talking, built by paying every known govt charges. So, keeping due respect for the cause when the govt can make lives of farmers bearable by forfeiting their loans why the very govt is turning blind eye & deaf ears for the basic living needs of the citizens who are honest tax payers of the same govt? Whether PMC merges the 34 villages or PMRDA controls them, that time will decide but let’s remind our-self that right now we are making modern days concentration camps with no living conditions for the residents & for which we the system is playing role of Hitler, accept it. But do mind this generation won’t keep silent as they will show their revolt in voting which is unfortunately only weapon they have to show their anguish against the system.  Though the biggest defeat of the democracy is when new elected govt (call rulers) making same or worst mistakes than the earlier one, that’s the curse we have!
-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

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



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

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

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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Real Estate, Water & Hon. High Court!





 “If you think the water isn't important, imagine Earth without it. Mars comes to mind. No water, no life support system”…  Sylvia Earle.

Sylvia Alice Earle is an American marine biologist, explorer, author, and lecturer. She has been a National Geographic explorer-in-residence since 1998. No wonder Sylvia is so much sentimental about water, as who better than a marine biologist can understand the importance of water! And Sylvia isn’t the only one who has considered importance of water so that she can compare Earth without water as Mars; our Hon High Court also thinks on same line, “No Water, No Life”! Those who are wondering with my analogy of Sylvia & Hon High Court for them will give little background! Last year Mr. Amol Balwadkar (who is now elected member of PMC) & few societies in suburb of Pune named Baner-Balewadi filed a petition about fewer water supplies in High Court. By the way Baner Balewadi is fastest growing suburb of Pune & has been chosen by PMC Smart City Mission as Smart Suburb. This whole part is very vital for Pune as its entry point of West Side coming via Mumbai as well its gate way to Hinjawadi IT Park, i.e.  Home to world class IT companies which has made Pune’s name on international map. As well it’s in close vicinity to Pimpari Chinchwad Industrial estate & most importantly surrounded by numbers of reputed education institutes. No wonder in last ten years this whole area become most sought after residential destination for migrants coming from all over the country to Pune. And all these residences have attracted many commercial establishments which includes every popular shopping brand as well eateries & restaurants! But with all these growth comes the most important aspect essential for life, that is water & here the whole problem started!

In our country it may be difficult to answer most famous question, “Pahalae anada ya pahale murgi?” i.e. what comes first an egg or a hen? But when it comes to our urban cities, what comes first, buildings (which unfortunately we consider as growth) or infrastructure? Then even a school going boy will tell , buildings comes first & then depending up on mood of our Mai Baap Govt which comes in many names i.e. PMC or PMRDA or PCMC or Zillah Parishad along with local body’s elected members popularly called as “Mananaiya”, the infrastructure follows! This is bitter truth & even the so called Smart Suburb like Baner is no exception for the rule. Agreed if someone takes a drive on the main baner road & newly developed high street then he will feel that how well planned this locality is, making you think yes this is development. But behold this is just screen, right from narrow by lanes to having no other parallel road for the Baner road which is getting chocked under the pressure of thousands of private vehicles to having no proper drainage system in  place in many areas leave away the things like gardens or play grounds, everything is same like any other suburb. And yes water supply was on top of all making the thousands of societies depending up on tanker water supply which is uncertain & for which they have to pay lacs of rupees every year! The pinch became unbearable & repeated pleas to the authorities went useless, finally they decided to take help of only Messiah available in our country i.e. The High Court! 

Basically here the main issue was PMC just shrugged their hands initially, saying they have put a condition on all the new sanctions in the locality that water supply isn’t PMC’s responsibility. But then that’s standard approach of all the planning authorities as well local bodies because right from legal title to approach roads to water supply to drainage lines, they take responsibility of nothing & they think by putting these condition on sanction plans of the project they are done. Yet these local bodies collect every possible rupee in the name of development charges & paid FSI & premiums on stair case & balcony & added taxes under name of Ses & what not from the developer. Here developer has no choice but to surrender to the conditions PMC put on the sanction plan as he has already invested crores of rupees in buying the land & unfortunately we have total monopoly when it comes to plan sanctions with any planning authority! So the developer accepts these conditions & built the project & sale the flats by passing the responsibility to the residents which are flat buyers, as what else he can do? Because a developer can make approach road to his project spending from his pocket,  he even can provide drainage treatment plant if drainage lines are not there, gets electricity power cables laid from distance but how he is going to get water even if he lays water pipe lines & why he should pay for that water when the residents are going to use that water! Here PMC says that they have put a condition that the developer will take care of water supply but with same logic tomorrow our MSEDCL  i.e. electricity board will put condition to pay electricity bills also of the residents, isn’t it? Logically what’s developers job is to make arrangements to store the water in underground as well over head tanks & a pumping system with proper plumbing should be in place & for which there is water departments NOC which is mandatory to get occupation certificate. In addition to that he has to make rain water harvesting arrangements too. Obvious that the residents has to pay for the water tankers as water lines if present, have no water pressure & for that also PMC is not responsible as per the conditions apply thing on sanction plans!  And this scene is going for years all around the city but Baner people seems to have had enough & they went to court for justice.

It seems as usual initially PMC took it lightly as they thought they have covered their back with conditions on sanctions & can get away with it but high court has different logic. First is PMC has charged the developers with development charges which are meant to provide infrastructure & second is in many cases they have been collecting property taxes from all of the residents which covers services such as water supply. So the court asked what’s this for if you are unable to provide basic thing like water & second is if you can’t provide water they why you allowed to start these buildings in first place! Being a sanctioning as well planning authority PMC can’t escape by just putting some obscured condition on the sanction plans is what court said & then strait way ordered not to allow any new construction in Baner Balewadi area unless a concrete water supply plan is in place. Going a step ahead court has asked to stop the ongoing constructions also which are sanctioned with such conditions. I think with due respect to Hon High Court, this is bit too much as what’s the fault of such developers as well people who have booked in these sanctioned projects? This country really makes me scare to start any business may it be a liquor shop or a housing project, as any day anything can happen & your business can  be dead in minutes with one order! Anyways that’s not the issue the main problem is now what next with our so called Smart City?

As today baner balewadi people has gone to court & got stop work to all the projects in the locality which on prima fascia may seems bizarre decision but logically is correct. Because if you don’t have any infrastructure in place which is essential for living in place, then why you allow new buildings to construct, is the question even a toddler will ask. Now issue is what if this trend gets followed in entire Pune region as well in State because baner balewadi isn’t the only suburbs where water is problem. And if some court can give such decision on basis of water supply then same can be applicable for inadequate drainage lines or poor road network & then comes no public schools or hospitals, as list of insufficient infrastructure is endless here! 

Here there are two sides of the coin named infrastructure; one is obvious the govt, call it PMC or PMRDA which can’t shrug their responsibility of providing things like water, roads & drainage & has to seriously now work on a plan for the same. Instead spending crores of rupees for things like beautification of roads & riverfront & launching unrealistic projects like elevated road from river bed, first every rupee must be planned & spent for basic infrastructure across the city. With things like GST already the revenue is going to be a problem & if courts come down this way on property tax as well development charges then better PMC should be braced to take the impact of lesser revenue. And not to forget with RERA in, for a while the new projects launching will be any way slow, which again will be dent in revenue collection! At the same time the residents also should understand that the speed of city growing will never match with infrastructure making speed the way it is in developed countries like USA. We are developing country & we have limitations on financial front which is main aspect for developing infrastructure & then lets accept we have other hurdles too like political interference & deep rooted cancer names corruption in the path of development. Here I want to ask a question to all the Punker citizens, what we do when we don’t have public transport in place; we buy our own vehicles right? Same way how many of us send our kids to PMC schools which has worst infrastructure or send their parents to PMC hospitals when they are ill? I am sure none of my flat holders does that & how many has scowled PMC or any govt authority for not having proper schools or hospitals & has thought of going to courts? No one has done it, mean we are not depending on PMC for any of the infrastructure then why just on water we are dependent on PMC, only because it collects property tax from us? Well in the same property tax, including road, all things such as education, public health services etc are included, mind it. Lets  accept, water is going to be a grave problem  in future just like any other service & Pune is lucky that here you get water at least by tanker unlike my home town back in Virdrabha where we doesn’t have source in itself! The issue is with a proper distribution system in place which will happen only by public pressure & till then we have to suffer but survive! In our recent projects we have been collecting water deposit from the flat holder so that it gets covered in flat valuation & the flat buyer gets loan also for the same. Then we put this amount in FD account & from that interest the water tanker bills are paid, so the flat holders doesn’t feel the pinch every month separately for water. I don’t say this is right solution but we are need to look out for solution about water & stopping entire new projects will only worsen the scene as that means no money for development works & the wheel of development will get stuck, is that what we want as citizens?

Here media also has great role to play as high light every segments responsibility towards city’s civic issues & keep hammering it instead thinking of just prime spaces for advertise revenue or writing only the stuff what people likes to read! High time PMC as well other authorities like PMRDA also should take lesson from this court verdict as development doesn’t means making some DP & ranking in second place in Smart City Mission; but development means taking the responsibility of what you have committed to your residents & deliver it to end level. The way in RERA, developers are going to be held responsible for their commitments to the flat holders, same way our city rulers are also responsible for what has been committed to citizens; may it be election “jahir nama/ wachan nama” or so called development plan i.e. DP. With this Baner water issue court verdict, citizens now has got sword in their hand & no neck is untouchable from this sword, lets understand this fact or else Doom’s Day for the city isn’t long!

-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU


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

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Green Buildings; Whose Baby Is It?










“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's greed.” ...Mahatma Gandhi.

These words were the first which came to my  mind when I sat to prepare a presentation for a seminar about Green Building’s Costing & Finance, jointly organized by PCMC & GRIHA, a rating system for green buildings developed by TERI i.e. The Energy & Research Institute. As, had we the human beings, would have kept our needs in control there wouldn’t have been need arise for urging green buildings. This seminar was way different than hundreds of which I have attended on the subject of green buildings as first time the financial aspect was the focus & not just green ways. Especially on the background of demonetization, RERA & now GST, already real estate is in its worst phase of sales, making costing as key factor. Already appreciation is gone from real estate as well all other costs related to building are sky rocketing & on top of that there is burden of expectations to reduce the home prices is there. This all makes green buildings take a step back as indeed there is added costs involved to implement these aspects in construction but frankly (I wanted to say unfortunately) everybody wants green buildings but no agency is ready to pay for it or absorb the added costs is a bitter fact. Will cover that aspect later but before that let’s have a look at various aspects of green buildings & its impact on the construction cost. Keeping this mind for first time this seminar’s special invitees were from finance field; Tata Housing Finance Limited MD as well very senior officers from National Housing Bank & AFD France an Institute which finance Govt of India for smart city mission, were few names present at the seminar.

On large the Eco housing or Green buildings can be categorized on seven fronts, so if we study each front in depth then a lot can be achieved. Actually this each front has multiple factors & they varies from geographic to financial fronts depending on project size, use of the structure so what we have to do is analyze every project on this scale to make it Eco friendly. So let’s see head wise, what’s scene in real estate…

     1. Energy or Power
     2. Water
     3. Garbage
     4. Greening or Biodiversity
     5. Materials
     6. Social Awareness
     7. Public Infrastructure

1. Energy or Power: Here power means electric energy. This is probably the most important aspect of present times as power is costly & it needs natural resources like coal & gas, as most of power in our country is by thermal energy! We can make homes which will use maximum natural light as well natural source for energy conservation like solar / wind.  Use of solar for water heating is a must & should be backed up by gas instead giving electric backup. Rooms should be planned in a way to have maximum sunlight & minimum artificial light. Number of points should be restricted. Here is strong need of policy revamps by electricity board, like electricity should be provided on reduced tariff for the home which will utilize maximum natural resource for their needs. Wind energy is yet costly affair & not viable mainly due to storage issue. Though a lot can be saved in fittings by use of LED lights but then as developer we can give just common area lighting. Also the planning plays a vital aspect so as to accommodate maximum natural light as well ventilation, reducing operating costs by les consumption of electrical energy. But then such planning needs every room having outer surface making the construction more costly as that means less common walls. Considering all such aspects the Impact on Construction Cost is Approximate Rs.20-50per Sq.ft. of salable area. All areas I am considering salable as that’s the language a builder understands best!

2. Water: This may be even important aspect than the Energy in coming years, rather this will be deciding factor for the real estate. Water must be supplied via meter only & think of changing on use than supply like we do for electric energy. Rain water harvesting & any water recycling equipment like water pumps or sewage as well water treatment plants should be subsidized by PCMC as well MSEDCL tariff. Also the users must get good reward for using the same in property tax. Tariff of electricity should be less & PCMC also should try for it. Using separate storage tanks for domestic & non domestic use as well provision for such plumbing arrangement is a must. The entire cost of recycling is the vital factor as up to what level we want to use the recycled water decides its installation as well operating cost. Impact on Construction Cost is approximate Rs.25-100 per Sq.ft.
3. Garbage: This is another future problematic front. Treatment at source should be promoted. Allow use of amenity spaces for vermiculture or garbage digesters as well for water & sewage treatment plants. Promote numbers of developers in one locality to come together & run garbage treatment plants. Local bodies should stop collecting wet garbage or charge high property tax for such projects. Impact on Construction Cost is approximate Rs. 10-25 per Sq.ft.

4. Greening / Biodiversity: This is very important yet extremely neglected aspect & needs special attention. We need to conserve the balance of not only trees but grass, creepers, native trees, birds, insects, reptiles as they all make this city which was once very rich in biodiversity. And for that we need to create thousands of biodiversity pockets. We need to change the policies a lot for this like in EC not to consider parking in built-up area as people will plan less covered parking’s i.e. multi-storied parking’s & encroach the spaces for trees. Even if we may force the developer but the residents won’t allow the trees to grow considering them as obstacle.
We need to give space of every other specie to survive & for those norms like coverage, height, side margins needs to be reworked & fast as each day a building coming up with our age old norms is an encroachment on greens! Relate property tax with the trees survived in the complex. Our rivers & natural streams/nallahs can be best source for this, which unfortunately are in very bad shape right now.  Right from planting new tree policy to allowing cutting the tree in essential cases, needs to be streamlined. Or else we are making people enemy of trees is a fact! Here we use a simple system, we make our every flat holder to plant a tree in the project they have booked flat as well put their name board alongside the tree, This gives them bonding as well ownership feeling with the tree & the family sees that their tree survives! Impact on Construction Cost is approximate Rs. 10-15 per Sq.ft.

5. Materials: On this front the scene is literally there is no R & D when its new green materials or innovations are concerned, neither efforts like any discount by PCMC on LBT for eco friendly material. And do mind we can’t afford trial error runs for a multi storied building keeping in mind safety aspect when its use of new material. PCMC should think of coming up with research center along with CREDAI for alternate materials options. Right from taps with controlled water flow to low energy consuming fittings to fly ask bricks, in every step we need to promote eco friendly materials. But at the same time they should be available in ample as well in proper time & at affordable rate. Impact on Construction Cost is approximate Rs. 50-100 per Sq.ft.

6. Social Awareness: Remember eco housing isn’t just a building or project but it’s a life style & PCMC along with Credai should join hands on every platform for this. What you do outside of your project like saving particular endangered species of a frog in Western Ghats should be equally considered as importance while we built our project in Pune. As somewhere a forest is alive so we can breathe here comfortably, this concept has to be digested by ourselves first & then carried to every citizen of this city! Also what we do for the poor segments of the society is to be taken in consideration along with making the entire society aware about nature conservation. Making school children aware by running Nature clubs in institutes is on great effort, which can be jointly by PCMC & Credai. The developers can think of giving common Laundromats reducing use of washing machines individually. At Sanjeevani we are planning to give a bicycle with every flat to promote use of cycles; such many initiatives can be worked out.  Here PCMC Commissioner put forward a very important aspect that we need not just green buildings but make them social too ie allowing people to come together by providing enough open spaces for such gatherings. Here let’s understand the energy in the form of people is also a natural source & we must conserve it by utilizing fullest & that should be focus of planning of green buildings. Impact on Construction Cost is approximate Rs. 50-100 per Sq.ft.

So if we combine all the above aspects then we can say the impact on construction coast can range from Rs 200 to Rs 500 per Sq.ft. depending upon means you use as well the end result you want to achieve! Here one more aspect I need to put forward & that is …
7. Public Infrastructure
We have limitations on individual level when its infrastructure outside of our project. PCMC should tie up with individual or group of developers for such issues which will reduce burden on natural resource. Like starting a PMT bus route for a particular destination with the support of bunch of developers in that area so more & more people will use public transport. Or letting group of developers develop their amenity space for shopping complex, so as there will be minimum need for traveling for the residents. Or giving one point water supply in a locality & allow the group of developers developing water network in their area & discounting the same from their premiums, a lot many things can be done.
Same is applicable for issue like public lavatories’, as the city which can’t provide clean & good public toilets to its citizens which are a very basic need, how we are going to promote such city to the world! Many things can be taken jointly & for that the developer should get rewarded.

Lastly what is most important is speed of the change once we acknowledge & accept the change! This I meant in terms of policies. Age old norms should be removed & new ones if accepted should be implemented. Right from fire norms for residential buildings to giving a common toilet on top common terrace, so many things we all understand & accept that are necessary but don’t make them a reality! EC norms & certification, which can be done on PCMC level itself but unless PCMC takes lead & ask Govt, it won’t be done.

As a project getting delayed by one year means all the revenue of PCMC itself getting delayed by one year! Same is with MHADA policy; accommodating those small homes in same building is directly making the planning difficult, which isn’t in tune with green buildings! Just making stringent norms won’t solve the problem; but give rewards & fast to the right guy & punish the wrong one, will only make the change! To conclude I want to ask…”With all such seminars happening around, still why not many Green Buildings happening around?” Just because we are repeatedly failing on following aspects…

1)       Promoting Green Building promotion policies!

2)       Promoting Green Rating Systems like Griha.

3)       Passing on subsidies to end user like developers as well residents quickly and effectively; remember a subsidy delayed is subsidy denied!

4)       Making end user aware about his/her responsibility towards Green Buildings as it’s a life style we are referring to & not just a onetime structure!

Now coming to the bitter fact I mentioned i.e. no agency is ready to bear the cost of green buildings. For e.g. Govt sanctioning authorities which we call local bodies like PMC or PCMC keeps on increasing their premiums on various fronts for plan sanction. They do offer subsidy to green buildings but its peanuts in compare to the costs incurred in making green buildings. Think of green fsi & see that it’s in proportion of the added costs, remember no developer is in business for charity so unless we have a carrot we won’t get bunnies attracted to the same. Agreed many will say isn’t green buildings is a responsibility of developers, well it is but not only that of developers but every bodies! Because on the same lines then why common people are not ready to pay some more extra rupees for green building is the question I will ask, are they not responsible for green buildings? Rather common man don’t demand green buildings & that’s why developers doesn’t build them is the fact. Same way I appeal to all the financial bosses to finance certified green buildings at lesser interest rates & flexible installments, both to developers as well to the flat holders. This can be big help as well carrot for entire real estate segment to promote green buildings.

Lastly I will request GRIHA team to make the assessment simpler, flexible as well faster as we want green buildings & that science is ever evolving as well depends on local conditions. At the same time maximum credit must be given for the developer’s efforts to make his clients as well common man aware about the importance of green buildings & our responsibility towards the same as there only lays the future of the green buildings & eventually future of entire mankind!
----
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

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