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.

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

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Power of Few Good Words!

“Even in the best, the friendliest and simplest relations flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning”… Leo Tolstoy.

Do I need to introduce this name as his above quote is from his novel, War & Piece & I think some names got carved in not just English but world’s literature & Leo Tolstoy is one on the top of that list! Well why I recalled these words about praise because recently my college days room-mate Subodh celebrated his 50th birthday & though that was making me realize about my aging too, yet what was more exiting, he bought a Jaguar  on the occasion! Well, I have seen enough cars & even fleets of luxury cars yet when I remembered our college days together when budget was real tight & coming from a typical middle class family & reaching to this day does makes this Jaguar special & I wrote a letter to subodh about the same. His wife sheetal & subodh, both were too touched with my letter & both replied in wonderful words, especially shital, who said in today’s world where praise is not cheap, especially when no business is involved, your words made our day! It’s sheetal’s these words, which is main reason of my sharing; as really how often & how easily we criticize everything around. Take example of our day start, right from our new paper not coming on time to solar water is not hot enough to our driver coming late on duty to people not picking our calls to traffic delays to demonetization,  GST , our list of criticism is endless & it’s true with everyone. Tell me a person who doesn’t criticize anything or anybody in twenty four hours, even you can ask your own self how many times you kept name or criticize anything rather everything around in a day & then you will realize importance of praise or few good words!

The result is we have forgotten what magic our tongue or our fingers with pen (read key board) can do by using few good words, provided they have been shared from within & not just to gain something out of opposite person. And it’s not necessary that we should praise or say good things about some person only; on some morning stand in your balcony & look at the rising sun, we can admire the sun slowly brightening the horizon & can thank god for giving us such wonderful sight to start the day! Then we can smile at our family members & ask them to witness this beautiful sight & again thank god for making you able to share such small joys with your close ones; have you ever tried it? In our so called busy schedule what we have lost is being thankful or happy for so many good things happening around us because all we have been busy is in complaining or criticizing our own life. You want to take a trial, then ask any person around, how’s life? And see how many people answers back, “life is beautiful’!  Most people will list out numbers of problems they are facing & how their life is more stressful than others & how every other person around is troubling them with his or her incompetency or not being able to deliver what has been expected from him or her & so on! And this is applicable not only to our family or friends but at workplaces also, we have just forgotten the art of appreciating or praising because nobody does it with us & like a multiplying effect we give same criticism back to the world!

Here I will share a folk tale from Mahabharata; when education of Kauravas & Pandavas was complete their Guru Draunacharya gave a simple test to Yudhishthir, the eldest Pandav & Duryodhan, the eldest Kaurav. He gave both of them 100 coins & asked to give it to a person who is most good in nature & come back & tell him whom they have given the coins. At sun set time both Yudhisthir & Duryodhan came back with 100 coins intact, on this the Guru asked why they haven’t given the coins to any person? Duryodhan said, Guruji I met many people but didn’t found one single good person or were bad for some or other thing so I came back with coins as I found no one suitable to give him the coins. Then Guru looked at Yudhishthir (he was also known as Dharma), he sheepishly said Guruji, actually 100 coins were very less as I found every person better than the one I meet earlier so I couldn’t decide who was best & came back without giving coins to anybody, but tomorrow I will go with more coins I give to all as all were good persons!

I think this story says it all, it’s the way we look at the world, world appears to us. I don’t say there is nothing bad in the world but all I will say is if there is bad then there is good also & along with criticizing bad things we must learn to appreciate goodness around. To become like Yudhishthir is very unique & difficult but only way we can turn something bad in to good is by appreciating it, at the same time if we neglect or just keep naming then even the good will turn in badness! And when in our so called busy routine we don’t have time to utter few good words about some ones achievement then to find out time & write few words is out of imagination for many is a sad fact. In the era of FB & Whats-ap we share just forward & we are losing originality of our own good thoughts by not taking them to our lips or on paper, let’s try it & see how they can change the people! And problem is right from our childhood, from our parents to our teachers, all wants us to win the race of life by leaving others behind. But no one teaches us, race winning is important but how many hearts you win along is also equally important, because a true leader is not the one who goes ahead of all but a true leader is the one who takes all the team ahead along with himself. And this is possible only by acknowledging goodness around & in every individual! Below are the very words I wrote for my friends’ achievement, which is cause of my sharing & made my day in return!


10 11 17

Dear Subodh & Shital, your Jaguar!

"Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best"... Theodore Isaac Rubin.

Theodore Isaac Rubin is an American psychiatrist and author. Rubin is a past president of the American Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Karen Institute for Psychoanalysis. And in so wonderful words he has defined achievement relating it to happiness, no wonder he is not just a psychiatrist but a great human being too! Dear Subhya when I saw snap of yourself with Shital & your Jaguar on our college whats-ap group, these were the feelings which came to my mind as my mind zoomed past in our Wadnere hostel days & I remember YP Shinde has first got a TVS moped & entire hostel got down to have a look at it & everyone was asking him for one ride. And then another memory flash I saw, it’s our college's parking lot & we all used to come on our run down M-50 (not concrete but moped) or Lunas & boys like Kochar's & Behel’s used to zoom in with Nakhai Nedha on back seat with then latest Yamaha RX 100 or Suzukis & we just kept looking at them, though we were happy yet at that time secretly we all must have dreamed, some day we too will have such bike. At that time even our dreams were small like our world which was a 10' x 10' room sharing basis, our moped in which we could hardly fill one liter petrol at a time & we used to care about average of our moped & that's all, life was wonderful!

Time flew & we grow up by age, by work, by earnings also & now suddenly for many of us owning a car was no more a dream but a necessity & sure we all have at least one car with us; yet somewhere within, each of us was carrying that teen age college boy in dark blue trousers & sky blue shirt with tie around neck & dream of a bike, place of which now has been taken by a posh car, with passing years! Best part is not you bought Jaguar because you have that much money or earned that much money, best part is you kept that dream alive & achieved it & made it reality! Subhya we all have memories cherished of our first Luna or M 50's, sure you also  remember your KB 100 as well we all have pride in our first car, yet a boy coming from typical middle class, like most of us are & buying car like Jaguar which is status symbol for super riches of the society, man this is our reply to all those who looked down at us as gaothi town boys, yes we are not just at par with you but a step above & we have earned it not by inheritance from our parents but we earned it through our hard-work, knowledge, goodness & attitude; in a way we deserve this more than any of you guys! It’s said that some loans you carry for years & can repay however old you have grown & this feeling on me was like a debt & when I saw your snap on my cell, I felt today that debt has been re-payed & I am sure everyone on group must have felt so!

Best part is I am most happy for your parents as our kids may not feel the importance of this your achievement as they have been born or grown up seeing their parents well settled life style. But it’s our parents who understands how much our generation has been deprived from the luxuries of life, I repeat that doesn’t meant we were unhappy yet it’s our generation only which used to stand at JM road's shops windows & realizing the empty pockets never dared to went inside the shop & inquired the price of goods in the showcases, is equally true! So the pride in their eyes after looking for what you has achieved, I think must have been worth of your Jaguar. Here I share my personal memory, in entire engineering time my mother has kept her gold bangles in her school's co-operative bank to pay my hostel as well college fees as co lateral security for loan & during that all time in most of the functions she used to went without golden bangles. This I didn't even knew but few years back she told me casually this thing; so on her one birthday I took her to PNG Jeweler shop at Laxmi road  & asked to buy anything she liked there & man, the expressions on her face after listening my those words was my best ever return gift; I am sure your parents also has sacrificed on many fronts to make you reach this level & so we all have some story behind us! I think we all share these values as well live by them as our best asset & this is what makes your Jaguar more beautiful than any other Jaguars I have seen around, as no more it’s just a most luxurious sedan but its symbol of our journey to this date! 

Thanks dost making all of us happy by your achievement as that is what friendship meant, you feel happy with happiness of your friends & it makes you sad for any bad thing happens with your friends; may you keep rising high & keep making your friends proud & guys this may be first Jaguar but sure Subhya has lead the way & may we all follow the path is all I can pray for us!  

Three Cheers for Subhya & Shital !! 


Pandya

-- 
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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Three Years of Team CM & Real Estate!





“The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government”…  Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson was an American statesman, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. He later served as the third President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. Many of his quotes have become famous especially those which are commenting up on government rather its personalities like Jefferson who give meaning to the term government & on occasion of completing three years of our ruling government in Maharashtra, what better than his words I could have used! That way three years is very short span but then in our democracy every government gets five years only to prove their worth as these five years decide whether the same govt or new one will come in power & then suddenly three years seems a pretty big time span to perform. These are the days of marketing & who better than the govt itself needs marketing as our rulers’ does think we the voters are so dumb that we need to be told via every media, what our “Mai Baap Sarkar” has done for us (read for our better living). I think does it not a failure itself that if any visible change in life is there then it’s to be experienced & felt & not to be told via full page advertises in news paper, is what a smart common man will think! But then smart common man is endangered species in our society, is what our rulers thinks & they keep on bombarding us with advertises of the achievements of the govt by every possible means. Here again there are two sides of coin every ruling party’s minister or elected member will go on counting the list of good things done by the govt in these years at the same time every opposition party’s member will go on listing wrong doings the very govt has done. And then the new funda is asking celebrities in every field of society to ask what’s their opinion is about the govt & depending up on the position of that celebrity his or her version of govt’s performance changes. Mostly everybody speaks good or sugar coated criticism as no one wants to rub the ruling govt on wrong side especially when the names are from business fraternity & when its real estate then govt is always right is the first rule of the business & second rule of real estate is never forget the first rule!

And then anyways Punekar’s are famous for criticizing anything even if it good as well whenever asked to judge performance of someone we usually starts with what is wrong or what’s bad about the person, so I will start with good or positive things by the Hon CM & his team for our city (read for real estate in nut shell). First & foremost let’s understand that we live in an urban area when we consider Pune (PMC, Pimpri Chinchwad (PCMC) & PMRDA & both the depts’ which controls life in the city are, Urban Development i.e. UD & Home, which for common man is police & both these depts. Are directly headed by none other than CM. Obvious CM also knows importance of his role so he is Chief of PMRDA as it’s this region or area where maximum development is happening. So let’s have a look about pluses of team CM & main thing is CM finally cleared the DP i.e. development plan of PMC which was lingering nearly for ten years without any decision by earlier govt. Many won’t understand importance of this step but let’s imagine you have been asked to build a building but without any plan or drawings, will be able to build it & even if you do will that building will ever serve the purpose which was in your mind? Well, DP is like plan of the city& PMC is the person which is supposed to build that building, so imagine what would be future of this city without a proper plan in place! And full marks to CM for making the DP through, though there has been some gray areas like Biodiversity park on hill tops as well flood lines of rivers flowing through city yet we have something to work on is a fact. Then the formation of PMRDA itself is biggest step which CM did & not just formation but to make it in functioning also was possible only because of CM’s persistence because PMRDA covers nearly every land out of PMC & PCMC limit which surrounds PMC & PCMC making it most sought after location for real estate development & only hope for common man’s dream of owning home in & around Pune. Then there was follow-up for Metro & starting the groundwork of Metro happened in these three years which was one thing at the top of long pending wish list for Pune. Most important decision was taking lead for finalizing airport location & start working on the actual acquisition for the same, this is going to make a long term impact on entire Pune regions development as main drawback for so many years to make Pune on international map is we don’t have direct connectivity to most cities in the world. If airport gets completed in coming years then this one job itself will be enough as feather in the cap of Hon CM! Another contribution by CM’s team which went unnoticed though it is vital for Pune’s development is appointing young team of IAS officers at key positions like PMRDA as well PMPML, especially the later one. Let’s understand Metro is not going to solve the traffic problems of the city, PMPML i.e. PMT is the only master key for that & by appointing full time officer like Tukaram Mundhe at PMPML, CM sent a message that he is keen to strengthen public transport of city.

Then there were many decisions on the fronts of revenue as well UD which are vital for entire real estate, to name a few, allowing agriculture land over 20 acres area to residential at local level which was earlier a big headache to change the zone as well needed to go to Mantralay. This has helped to open up huge land bank which is like raw material for real estate. Also in PMC/PCMC limit there is no need to take separate NA permission from Collector was one demand of real estate from long which has been accepted & the GR has been issue about same. One thing is sure this govt understand importance of real estate’s role in development of the city but…

Let’s now see the “but side” of the coin named achievements in three years by CM’s team on city as well real estate front. Real estate is going through probably darkest patch & though GST, RERA, Demonetization are the reasons given by many but I personally feel it’s the poor marketing of all the real estate related policies which has driven away the investors as well real buyers from the market. At the same time its poor execution at local level of all good decisions which were taken by the Hon CM’s team, I think is the main cause of degradation of the entire real estate in city. Those who won’t like my conclusion then let’s analyze the scene on city’s infrastructure as well real estate governing bodies.

First of all the DP has been cleared but there has been many lacuna’s like no clear decision about Metro corridor development TDR  related issues i.e. premiums & consumption of such TDR, thus making entire central city’s development at hold as Metro route  covers most part of city. Also there is issue of deciding premium for paid FSI which State Govt wants 50% of revenue generated out of it & PMC isn’t ready to give it, the result is now the charges of paid FSI has been made 100%, means equal to prevailing land rate wherever such paid FSI will be utilized. It’s the joke as why someone will then buy such paid FSI if it’s at the cost of land itself & then how we are going to make homes affordable as if State Govt & PMC both wants to have their share from the development, just like a land lord! Then the DP has been finalized but no control on its execution as we have been declared as Smart City but the so called Smart suburb i.e. Baner, also is being deprived from basic things like water supply & roads. As a boss of UD there isn’t any move about giving targets to the local authorities for developing reservations as that’s need of the city as well citizens. There has to be a team at State level which will periodically monitor the execution of DP’s of not just Pune but of every major city in State. Civic infrastructure right from education to public health is a grave issue for a fast growing city like Pune & before the city buckles under the pressure of its own growth, CM has to act about it. Take example failed BRTS or of garbage depot, years came & went but we are unable to find the solution for place of new garbage depot neither satisfy residents of existing garbage depot’s surrounding village of Fursungi, making them every alternate month holding entire garbage collection of the city! On police front, we need better infrastructure for police force in the form of man power as well space & equipments for this man power. Creating a separate Police Commissionorete for PCMC is one long pending topic which is a must considering the growth of this area! As no city can be considered as Smart if it doesn’t have law & order in place!

With due respect to PMRDA’s functioning, biggest lacuna is in micro development of infrastructure fronts like roads, as right now everyone is clueless about who, when & how will be making the roads, right from the regional plan roads to internal roads. As presently the residents in most of PMRDA region are commuting to their homes literally “Ram Bharose” i.e. at the “Mercy of God”, in desi language!Things like water & other civic amenities will follow or water can be bought by tanker for time being (though water supply is grave aspect of future which needs to be addressed right from now) but why the roads are not being done, nobody can answer this aspect & Hon CM must look in to this aspect. Because even if after paying hefty premiums to the govt under the name of development charges, yet if the govt is not providing facilities as basic as roads, what’s the use of having govt in first place? Same is about announcement like, no need of getting NA order from Collector office when the project lays in the jurisdiction of sanctioning authority such as PMC or PCMC.  Indeed great moves to save the time delays as well ease of doing business for real estate but the said announcement seems to have gone to deaf ears as till now the rounds of Collector office for NA under the name of challan are on for the developers! Same is with fast track sanctions type announcements at various organizations, even the Single Window clearance is also a phrase & digitalization of 7/12 has failed miserably making developers surrender to Demy God named Talathi! And then there is cancer of illegal construction which is literally killing every town & city & all that govt (read UD) does is, regularize illegal construction up to latest possible date!

Lastly millions of people need their own home is a fact & let our “Mai Baap govt” understand that, to make their dream of affordable home possible first this home should be affordable to the builders as then only production of such homes will be a reality! This wish list for real estate can go on & on, though one thing is sure no one doubts CM’s sincerity & efforts yet the fact is, at the end like a studious student getting full marks in theory but failing in practical, thus final result of this Govt for first three years on the front of real estate is fail only! Let’s hope the course has two more years to complete & our student will improve & will be better in practical also, all best wishes for that is what 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

Monday, October 30, 2017

Wild Life Without Wild Lifers!






“If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”... Steve Irwin.

Stephen Robert Irwin, nicknamed "The Crocodile Hunter", was an Australian zookeeper, conservationist and television personality; he is the man who made common people all around the world to love wild life by his exceptionnal shows on Nat Geo channel & what an irony that he met his death during shooting of one such show by Sting Ray fish! That's dedicating life for wild life conservation in true sense & its people like Steve whose death also has contributed to wild life conservation & that’s exactly his above words about making common man aware regarding wild life is what made me use his reference to start my sharing. Like some reality TV show come October & that’s new season for wild life in India as the parks reopens for tourism post monsoon & as I have already shared, forests in Central India are probably at their best, fresh with monsoons effect! Though I never need any reason to visit forests yet when the reason is doing my little bit for ground staff at forests then visiting forests become more beautiful as well meaningful. This time we provided 125 winters wear for Pench MP forest guides as well gate staff & 175 such for Tadoba guides as well gate staff. AT both ends the sweaters were handed over to the guides & gate staff in a small cozy function with help of respective officers at both parks!

Seeing the joy on the faces of guide & after hearing praise for my team for donating sweaters, speaking at both events I told to those men who are actual savers of the tiger, that it’s not big thing to give & it’s not donation but its sharing for us, & what I wanted to share is a feeling that in the tough job of saving the forests you are not alone! This sweater is like a memento which will tell you that your job is most important & someone outside the forests who lives in comforts of city life understands as well respect your job! Because if it’s difficult to save a tiger then it’s more difficult to show a tiger in the forest, as it’s the only intention with which most tourists visits forests & to stand to their expectation of showing a tiger is very difficult job which the forest guides has to do all year long, that’s the job of a guide in forests! And as I always said on one side entire wild life tourism of States like MP or Maharashtra or Karnataka is revolving around tiger sighting & then when the tourists comes to the forest, spends handsome amount as well time (this aspect will cover in detail) & if he or she don’t get to have a glimpse of tiger then how you are going to make this tourist like the forests, & then how you are going to support to conserve something which you haven’t liked in first place? 

Now coming to sighting (sighting is commonly used term for sighting of a tiger), I did nearly eleven safaris; seven at Pench MP & four at Tadoba, one safari is one round of forest which is in morning 6 am -10.30 am & in afternoon 3 pm -6 pm & in all eleven safaris all I got to see was a tiger cub crossing road, that’s all speaking about the sighting of tiger! Imagine the time, effort & costing involved & one has to wake up at 4.30 in morning to be at entry gate for morning safari. I have seen enough tigers by now & don’t visit forests just to see a tiger though the sight of those yellow & black stripes is always a welcome thing. What I wanted to put forward is harassment of the tourists (many my forest officer friends wont like the word harassment) in the name of tiger conservation. I don’t know who is at blame or fault or even my perception may be wrong but look at the hefty charges forest dept is applying per safari as well the other costs incurred such as gypsy charges & on the top of it getting a reservation for the safari & the procedures for entry in the park, you feel even getting in Pakistan is easier task! For e.g. take Pench praks entry seen, first you have to get online booking which gets full at the moment the booking is open. Then you need to be at the gate by 5 am even the gate opens at 6am because even you have got online booking done the verification process takes nearly an hour, god knows what the dept verifies when mostly all details can be done online itself! And then its double check at the gate also as even you get the entry form in print only after producing valid ID proof for each member of the safari yet again there is second gate where all these ID’s are checked by another official!

At Tadoba case is more stringent as every member in the gypsy has to make her or his hands up as the guard calls out for the name. Also system of allotting gypsy or guide is equally messy making drivers as well guides wait at the gate from 4.30 am in morning. The worst part is even if the online booking of a safari has been done on one name by paying full charges & in one safari six people can go, then all six the names should be confirmed only at the time of booking which is nearly three months in advance. Now when its students group then how can we assure names so early & behold, if you want to change the name or add some name at eleventh hour then you will have to pay Rs 1000 per name in addition to all the charges you have paid for safari! And then there are camera charges per camera as well guide charges on top of it, making wild life tourism only for super riches. Reason given by forest dept is tickets are black marketed by tour operators & sold at higher rates but then what about all the genuine tourists as well school kids trip organizers, why the majority has to suffer because of few wrong doers, is the question I will ask to the authorities? As we all have witnessed a black marketer finds ways even in this system as the one who is ready to pay premium he won’t mind paying even Rs 1000, to add the name but in the process its middle class which gets hit & deprived from seeing these forests is a bitter fact.  Then the entry rates have been increased nearly ten times in last ten years, one reason is because of Hon Supreme Court’s order, tourism has been restricted to only 20% of the forest area, causing curtailing of entry of gypsy’s by 80% & to cover these loss rates of entry has been increased by local authorities! Here I will ask, what is govt’s job, to make money or to assure this nature’s treasure gets available for every common citizen of this country? Same is with the charges applied for the safaris, why not all the National Parks in the country has one single charging system so it will be easy for the wild life tourists to plan their budgets as well trip. For e.g. take full day safari charges which varies with every park & not that it’s been doubled in just one year making forests accessible to only super riches of the country because a full day safari will cost nearly Rs 75,000 per day, imagine how many Indians can afford this amount! On this background, will like to share some information about USA’s national parks; there four national park’s entry permit costs just $80 which makes Rs 5600/- & this is for multiple entries valid for one year! Agreed USA is a rich country but they earn money from other avenues & not at the cost of depriving common citizen from nature conservation. High time our MOEF i.e. Ministry of Environment & Forests take cognizance of these facts & guide State Forest depts for doing needful.

When all the labyrinth of entry formalities are complete &  once you are in the park then the new sets of rules awaits for you, with due respect to forest dept’s intentions as well I too am a avid wild life lover yet lets understand, people come here to see wild life (read tiger & leopard) & we need to make policies by virtue of which the tourists will get to see what they want to see. As then only their interest in wild life will increase which is the key to make them aware about importance of wild life conservation. But the rules which welcomes us in the forests makes different story, speed limit is 20km/ hour, who designed it god knows! For instance you can’t get down the vehicle anywhere in the park even for nature’s call this I can understand considering safety of tourists from attack of wild animals. But there are no restrooms at all in many parks; rather in Pench park there is just one rest room at Alikatta (center point). When a tiger sighting is expected & if any tourist has to respond nature call then it’s at the cost of missing the tiger sighting as the poor fellow has to run back to a place where rest room is located! In my recent Tadoba trip similar incidence happened with none other than a Hon High court judge who missed tiger sighting because of nature call! I don’t say allow tourists to get down at anywhere in the park but at least we have numbers of forest guards residents all across the parks, why can’t we provide safe rest rooms to the tourists so they can enjoy their ride with some comfort?

One more issue is regulations (restriction is proper word) on the drivers as well guides. In Pench I came to know even on two way route you can’t take a U turn unless it’s a tiraha or chowk (a place where three or four roads meet). Means if a tiger or any photographic incident is happening behind your gypsy then you can U turn even keeping safe distance from the animal in sight but drive strait till you get a tiraha or chowk & then only turn back, ridiculous isn’t it? And then the latest development is all guides have been provided with GPS in their mobile to keep control on the speed of vehicle as well you are not supposed to stop more than fifteen minutes at place where tiger sighting is happening, is what few guides told me! And then ever changing routes as well blocking of the routes where tiger is being sighted regularly is one more popular game of forest dept or say park management. Also why we keep park close in monsoons; take example of main road of Tadoba which is in very good tarred condition, so let’s allow the tourists to use this road, which was open till last monsoon, but is suddenly closed from this season. Imagine with fear of getting fined as well getting banned in the minds of guides as well drivers, how they can show tourists the beauty of the forest with free mind, which is their main job! I am not in support of speeding of vehicles in any way but then the gypsy drivers also knows their responsibility while driving in park. Just look at the statistics in past & tell me a single incidence of accident of any wild animal in park due to tourist vehicle as every driver knows if such accident happens, that will be his last ride & that he can’t afford! Then why burden driver’s mind with GPS type gadgets, what are we running a park or a jail! All such things damages not just tourism but entire life cycle of thousands of people who are solely depending up on tourists as the gypsy drivers were practically on streets this monsoon for earning their wages due to park closer. And this is just one example, as with the reduction in numbers of safari permits as well high entry fees the only tourists which comes for here more than two or three safaris are from rich class & this has killed middle or lower budget hotels at all national park destinations across the country. Only the high end hotels are doing well which most people can’t afford. Rather we should try to keep open all our parks as much we can is what my opinion is because if we are not keeping people in & around forests comfortable by our tourism which is only way of earning for them, then these people are the best baits for poachers!

What are we heading at, is the question comes to my mind after experiencing above aspects of the national parks. As better here after we allow people to see a tiger or any wild life creature in the zoo only instead making visiting national parks so difficult that too after paying all possible charges. Agreed that forest dept’s intentions towards wild life conservation nobody doubts it’s the way which is a problem. We need to make every single person of this country understands importance of forests & contributes his or her best to conserve the wild life & for that we should make wild life accessible to every citizen as then only they will understand what to conserve!  As I mentioned I had eleven safaris without single tiger sighting yet I love forests & being in it but to reach this stage I have spent enough time & money in forests & has eyeful of tiger sightings in past. And it’s this exposure with forests which has taught me that being a wild lifer doesn’t mean just going to national parks, clicking snaps & uploading on FB & get likes; it’s what you do to conserve forests is what makes you a wild lifer.  I penned down my thoughts as somewhere someone in the system will think & act as that’s last hope for the common wild lifer as well for wild life in itself of this country!

Sanjay Deshpande 
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