Sunday, October 15, 2017

Celebrating Wild Life Week; Where is Wild Life?






“Every creature was designed to serve a purpose. Learn from animals for they are there to teach you the way of life. There is a wealth of knowledge that is openly accessible in nature. Our ancestors knew this and embraced the natural cures found in the bosoms of the earth. Their classroom was nature. They studied the lessons to be learned from animals. Much of human behavior can be explained by watching the wild beasts around us. They are constantly teaching us things about ourselves and the way of the universe, but most people are too blind to watch and listen.” … Suzy Kassem.

Suzy Kassem is an American writer, poet, philosopher, and multi-faceted artist of Egyptian origin. The granddaughter of a well-known sage in 19th century Cairo, mysticism and wisdom run through her blood just as the water of the Nile flows through her veins. And her words about wildlife, shows her approach of learning from the nature, no wonder her words flow so easily & tells us about importance of nature in the form of wildlife! Actually come October & updates from my Facebook group’s like Sanctuary & Claw makes me aware that parks in Indian forests are open now & it’s time to visit wilds. Though one need not have to go all the time to national parks to be with wild life as where I stay i.e. Pune has ample of biodiversity around in the form of Western Ghats though no tiger sighting here as you get to see in Central India! Yet when you want to be with nature for learning even you terrace garden can teach you a lot is what I have observed. But again when something is very near to you then you often miss to see that thing, is exactly what happens with me when speaking about biodiversity around Pune. In my cabin at office I have a digital photo frame on which all my wild life captures keeps on rolling all day long, whenever I get tired of my concrete world I look at this frame & it takes me in the wilds. And it’s not just tiger sighting but some of the clicks brings back memories in wilds which made me learn not just about animals but even made me think about human behavior, here are few such…

1.    In Tadoba forest on a dusty noon as usual chasing for tiger & following alarm calls of chital, we saw a huge spider feeding on a grasshopper even bigger than it. My wild life friend Atul Dhamankar then showed us something unique, a small red spider on the back of bigger spider. No, it wasn’t spider’s cub but it was male spider which can met only when female spider is busy in feeding herself or else she will eat the male spider only! Nature is strange as this taught me how in nature, every specie finds its way out to survive!

2.  Then in one such round at kanha forest, we saw a herd of chital approaching water hole. It’s this time when the animals are most susceptible for getting hunted as their back is towards forest & nostrils submerged in water, so they can’t see the predators like tiger or leopard coming from rear. But nature has taught them what we the humans haven’t learnt; the leader of the herd watches the forest & the rest of the herd drinks & when they are finished then the leader i.e. a male chital goes for drinking water! What a leadership attitude & courage from a deer, as not that it can actually fight with tiger but at least he will see such danger & make aware his herd to run away, is what it must be thinking! This whole scene made me think about our leaders who wants to fill their pockets first & cares a hang about their followers empty stomach; well, we are real fools to accept such person as our leader in first place, is equally true!

3.  Best part in forest is when you stop at some place just to listen the forest sounds, mainly to check any alarm call for tiger & at such times the forest guide or gypsy driver which are mostly natives from surrounding of the forest, share their stories about forest & their encounters with many funny situations in forest as well their beliefs or say superstitions which are very common among the tribes around the forest. One such is sloth bear tickles the man if it caught any in the forest & then rip of its face so that the man won’t be able to identify the sloth bear! Very funny indeed not for the persons who has lost their eyes & damaged their face for ever due to slot bear attacks & which makes sloth bear most feared animal in the wilds. Fact is sloth bear has very sharp & long nails to dig in termite houses & eat termites; as well it has very poor eye sight but a strong sense of smell. So when accidently it meets any man in the forest (which mostly are forest labors), when a sloth bear stands on its hinder legs  the it stood taller than average human height & if it just swings its paw as act of defense which exactly hits at the face of unfortunate person standing right in-front of the sloth bear. And just one swing at your face is enough to tear all the flesh from your face as human skin is too soft for those sharp nails which can dig in termite home!

4.  The comes one more story how the tiger hunt the monkeys which are expert on climbing up high on trees & tiger due to its heavy structure cant climb on the tree like the leopards does. Monkeys as we all know are curious lot & that does make them land in danger often. Whenever a  group of monkeys sees  a tiger they starts shouting in a very different sound, it’s more like scratching than their normal hoop hoop! At the same time they start looking down & their eyes follow all the time the tiger & its movement. The tiger knows this & starts circling the tree on which the group of monkeys is looking down & instead leaving that area, which monkeys can easily do from the top of the trees, the monkeys also starts rolling their eyes & neck to cover the tiger movements around the tree & one of the monkey faints due this movement of eyes & falls down & then becomes food for the alert tiger below! Though no one has actually seen this happening but tiger’s strategy does make sense & that teaches us even if we are unable to master some skill, like the tiger doesn’t know to climb on the tree yet he can achieve the kill of a monkey which sits high up!

5. The on one such ride in Bandhawagad forest our guide took us at a lake & told us to watch around. It was quite noon in forest & clear blue sky & suddenly a flock of bats came & started hovering above the water-body. One by one the bats started diving towards the surface of water body, first I thought they are hunting fish which was new to me but the guide asked, “sir aapne kabhi socha hai bat pani kaise pita hai?” i.e. how a bat must be drinking water? I accepted I have never thought & then it hit me, how difficult it must be for a bird to drink water which can’t even stand on its leg! So the bats were not hunting fish but they were drinking water in flying mode as that’s the only way they can drink water! So many times we see some phenomenon in nature around us & don’t just bother about it! From my childhood I am fascinated by bats, which were a normal sight after sun down in the sky. But now the poor specie is getting driven away from the towns & cities as even after sun down we have flood lights & honking of millions of vehicles that keeps the bats at bay as well pollution & in addition our passion for fire crackers, all this is helping to make bats extinct & then we hardly have clean water bodies left in the city where the bats can drink from, while its flying! But then who cares if some night flying mammal bird if we don’t get to see, as who has time to look at its flight from whatsap, FB & thousands of channel on TV while its dark outside!

6. One such interesting specie, with loads of myths around is wild dogs, called as Whistling Hunters also, because of their unique way of communication. Many won’t know but wild dogs which live by packs (wild hunters like dogs, jackals in group are called as pack whether as deer in group is called as herd) are most feared animal in the Indian forests, even tiger keeps distance from them, such is respect for their hunting skills! And the wild dogs don’t bark but they communicate with each other by soft whistle, a very rare way for dogs as they are very less studied specie till recent. Wild dogs are a classic example of “size doesn’t matter but performance does”. As they take on much bigger prey like Sambhar deer just by persistent chasing it & don’t give up till the prey fall down with sheer exhaustion & then eat it alive as they can’t kill the prey in one go like tiger or leopard does! I have been lucky to witness a wild dog’s chase by myself in pench forest. A poor chital was running from pack of wild dogs & jumped in a lake for survival. The wild dog’s pack literally circled the lake & blocked chital’s way of coming out of water. Poor chital gave up swimming after one hour of effort & then the dogs entered water & killed the chital. They were with all the patience & confident that the chital will give up!  This is what we should learn from wild dogs; never give up attitude till you achieve what you are after! But this wonderful specie is under threat of getting extinct as because of their size’s limitation & the way they hunt, they need lot of forest to survive & that is something we are fast encroaching on. Loss of habitats is main cause of many animals getting extinct & each of us should do our best to keep wild animal’s homes intact!

Forest is full of such stories & like one famous paint companies tag line, “har ghar kuch kahata hai” (every home has a story to tell), on the same line we can say, “Each specie has some story to tell” in the forest. Not just that but every day brings more such stories in forest that is why a forest is ever alive! It’s not just tiger sightings but such stories of which you also can be a witness, is what makes forests interesting & our life too! But for that we should not forget our responsibility along as every day we read some or other specie has vanished forever. On the occasion of Wild Life Week which is celebrated in October, I came across an article in a news paper with a heading, “Have you seen them?” It was featuring animals which were common sight few decades back around towns but now they are not being seen even in reserved forests & the sole reason is loss of their habitat due to our greed for building more of our homes, offices, roads, factories, malls & IT parks! 

Friends, as we work for making our comfortable homes, we must work for other specie’s homes (read forests) also, or else one day all we will be left with is just stories of wild dogs & sloth bears, whereas the heroes of such stories will be long gone forever from this planet! And just by celebrating some Wild Life Week & giving advertises in new paper we won’t be able to save forests as well wild dogs like species but we need to understand what we are going to miss, if every single wild species gets extinct; as well we need to control our needs which are actually greed! Instead planning our so called Smart Cities lets first plan for Smart Forests & then plan our cities around them, that’s the only hope for wild life & as we consider ourselves Smartest Specie, we are solely responsible to make wild life survive!

-- 
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 !
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Friday, October 6, 2017

Understanding Diwali Within!




Friends,

It’s Diwali time again & really we Indian’s are festival loving people, that makes us forget all bad things happening around us & we are blessed with so many festivals for that! But amongst all Diwali is something great as I remember my childhood, Diwali was the only time when we used to get two sets of new clothes & get to eat sweets for strait four days! Today’s genre won’t ever imagine what joy such treats meant for us as now with online shopping sites & apps like Siwggie delivering all sorts of food at your door step, joy of all such things has long gone. Yet Diwali has its special place in our life because, one is it brings along vacations & second as Diwali is celebrated across all classes of the masses, entire mood of society becomes festive making it truly nation’s festival & not of some caste or religion! The term Diwali has been so synonymously connected with prosperity that whenever someone is seen spending heavily then people asks, “is it Diwali time for you!”

Well, just do mind, all are not lucky to have happy Diwali times as for millions of people in this country even Diwali cant make them able to have prosperity, so all I will say lets understand the Diwali first & then decide how you will be celebrating it! As a leader of my team ( I never like to call myself owner) I felt like writing my views to my them & I am sharing with you as my Diwali wishes, please do go through & share with your close ones…

Happy and Green Diwali 2017!


“However good we may think we are, yet we can definitely be a better person”… Disney Movie, “Moena”.

My dear team Sanjeevani and friends, wish you all a very happy Diwali! You all are aware of my fascination for cartoons and to be honest, its cartoons, super heroes and the ideology behind them which has a great influence on my journey so far. I have used a quote from famous Disney movie Moena to share my thoughts on the occasion of Diwali, as I feel this is the gist of what I want to share with you all. And any ways what else do we do when we wish someone a better life? We wish each other prosperity, and those who count prosperity in terms of money haven’t understood real meaning or let’s say joy of living itself! Recently in a casual conversation my younger son once told me that he wants to earn so much that he could do anything he wants to. I smiled and asked him, what exactly do you want to earn my son? He replied, of course lots of money! I was not surprised with his reply, as it’s a way of life that from childhood till we become grownups, it’s imbibed on us that to earn is something related to only with money. That’s what every school & college teaches us, get education to earn more money & in the process we lose real meaning of living our life!

Friends, money is definitely important aspect of life as so many things for e.g. to have good education to health care, we need money for most of the things around is a fact. Ask a small kid who does not even get food, leave some decent cloths to wear on Diwali but needs to stand at signal in front of a mall as a beggar and who sees people carrying bags full of shopping, for him money is the only medium to celebrate Diwali and be happy. But what about children or even grownups who don’t have to stand at traffic signal to earn their living, how could they too relate happiness to money? I asked this is to my son and I am also sharing my views with you all, that if you want to earn anything then earn knowledge, earn goodness, earn people & even you can earn good health; as, if you earn all these things money will surely follow. But if you earn only money then there is no guarantee the things mentioned above will follow, in fact you may lose many of them forever. Take example of our industry i.e. real estate, what we are witnessing has happened to those who entered in this business merely with the purpose of earning money? But we survived in toughest times, as our aim was not only to earn money but also build good homes. In this difficult situation people with whom we had developed a strong bond supported us; its outcome of our positive thinking and good deeds & commitment towards our work, that’s our real earning!

I always feel if you want to know what is good, you first have to experience what is bad. Once you realize this truth, then nothing remains bad around us. In-fact then the bad times becomes an investment to achieve good times. Finally it depends on us only whether we learn from a difficult condition and try to achieve a good one or keep a status-quo. As Moena says this journey on the path of goodness has no end. How much good can one be; the answer is, it like the sky, which is infinite in all dimensions & surrounds everything, same way your goodness will surround everyone around you! Remember one thing, goodness is the most valuable gift you could ever give, not only to everyone around you but also to yourself. Take example of “Swachha Bharat Abhiyan”, if everyone decides that he or she will not litter and will not allow anyone to litter, do we need any one else to collect garbage?  Similarly if everyone decides to behave in a good way, there will be no badness left in this world and many problems world is facing will be solved automatically.

So from this Diwali let’s resolve to be a better human being than what you are, it will be the best Diwali gift you would give to yourself. I am too not an exception, because if I consider myself your boss as I am better than you then it also makes me most bad person too, amongst us & so I would start working on myself to get rid of that badness within! Also remember goodness is a responsibility, as if you want to fight badness there is no better weapon than goodness. And do mind don’t use your goodness only for your own benefit, also share it with those who are as lucky as you, will you please try it? You could achieve this through simple way, like I mentioned above, this Diwali, think of that small kid standing begging at signal with dirty tattered clothes & looking at you through the glass facade while you were busy in shopping for yourself & your loved ones, just when you buy a shirt for yourself from mall, at least buy a chocolate for that boy. Try this please & then you will realize how your celebrating Diwali this way can make lives of many others really wonderful, beyond your imagination! 

Lastly I would like to quote a beautiful sentence I read recently, “if you want to burn, don’t burn as one of many torches illuminating some palace, but burn as a tiny candle which drives away darkness from a small hutment which has no light, even your burning will be meaningful’’, & we here we are talking about living life!

With this note, I wish you and your family a very happy and enlightening Diwali!

Sanjay 

------------------------------------------- 
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
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Saturday, September 30, 2017

City of Cycles, Once Up On A Time!





 “In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built: walking, witnessing, being in public, are as much part of the design and purpose as is being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or love or music. The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship, around participation in public life.” … Rebecca Solnit.

Rebecca Solnit, another respected name along with Jane Jacobs when subject is city planning, is an American writer. She has written on a variety of subjects, including the environment, politics, place, and art. Solnit is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine; no wonder she can describe city & its relation with the citizen is such perfect way. Actually when I read such quotes as well write-ups about the city from the personalities like Jacobs or Solnit, it makes me think about our Pune city always & then I read the news created by our “Mai Baap PMC” & it brings me back to the reality we live in. For e.g. there were three news which came on same day in the news papers, first news was about efforts of govt boosting entrepreneurship i.e. startups (popular buzz word) in the city, by virtue of which PMC has made a policy so the residential spaces (read flats) can be used for commercial purposes i.e. tuition classes, clinics, professional offices, call centers etc. Second news was about publishing the much talked (hyped) cycle plan for the city by PMC & third news was about formation of central special anti encroachment squad by the encroachment dept of PMC for keeping some 45 numbers of main roads along with their footpaths, of the city & prominent chowks on these roads, encroachment free. Well, on prima-fascia one won’t find any correlation between these three news & may feel good that finally some action is being taken for three aspects of the city i.e. un-employment, making citizens environment loving by making them urge to use cycle or walk & taking efforts for decongestion of traffic by freeing roads as well footpaths from ever encroaching street vendors!

But the above three news are very much co-related with each other & let me tell you keeping all due respect for the intentions of PMC, as usual its going out to be another blunder. As do mind policies which are made just to please the masses, often fails miserably is bitter truth of urban planning. To start with let’s take first news about allowing commercial activities in residential units (read flats). As the intention is making more commercial place available to entrepreneurs but what about the side effects & practicability of this decision? As I too live a perfectly residential society where we have only residential users, obviously we love our peace as that’s why we have taken our flat in this society & if now few flats are being used for classes as well clinic or say IT startups who will have any control on number of people visiting our complex & nuisance their movement will cause to other residents. Then there comes issues like security as under the name of visitor or student to such establishments any ill element can enter in the premise of our society. Then what about the burden on services like lifts which are designed for residential use as right from maintenance charges many factors will get affected, one more such aspect is added use of water required for more number of users. Then there is issue of toilet facilities as well in general cleanliness aspect of the complex which will arise due to increased numbers of visitors from all segments of the society. If the flat is being used for Poly Clinic or IT Company, then what about E-Waste or Bio Medical Waste, such units will generate?  And lastly what about parking facilities for such change of use units, as the parking norms for residential & commercial use are different & that’s natural. Apart from that when it’s a use like tuition classes then at particular time many vehicles especially two wheelers will be there & if it’s not possible in the complex premise then the adjoining footpaths are the safest parking lot is what we are already witnessing even with official commercial buildings. So now with this policy we are opening a flood gate for footpath parking is I can assure. Mainly as our traffic police doesn’t even bother nor has enough man power to control suburban area’s footpaths free from parking, is a fact. And then footpaths in our city are like orphans, neither PMC nor the traffic police think they are responsible for the parked vehicles on footpaths. And if its IT company then it will bring along four wheeler parking issue also, for that the adjoining roads of such society’s will become parking lots as we don’t charge a dime for parking our vehicles on public’s property! Here we can give permissions only if adequate parking is available in such buildings as well take an undertaking from the concerned owner for accepting additional maintenance charges he will have to bare to the society, whatever logically decided by the society. Agreed the term logical is bit difficult to define here but when you make such policies then you need to develop a system also which will deliver it!

Now about much hyped Cycle Plan in the city, few decades back this city didn’t need any cycle plan as that was the trademark of Pune, a city of cycles, just the way today Amsterdam is of Europe. But after 90’s things started changing fast, the city started expanding (swelling is proper word though) & people were required to travel distances for the daily chores. At the same time Auto Industries as well IT Industry brought wealth along in the city & outcome was nearly four millions of two & four wheelers which we witness every day are choking our roads. Poor public transport was another aspect of the need or use of these automobiles but the result was not just it chocked the roads but it ended the era of cycles too! Now, even super poor class people also don’t use cycles rather I can bait the number of people on roads cycling for their health cause is more than the number of people who really use cycle for their day to day works! Obviously our entire city planning is being made for keeping in mind the automobiles & not cycles & outcome is today practically there is no band width left for the bicyclers on the road. And in the process to accommodate these four million vehicles we have to expand the roads (easiest solution) killing along all the tree cover adjoining these roads & then parking spaces required for these vehicles did rest of the tree cutting! It’s not just risk to ride a cycle amongst zip zap zoom traffic of Pune but the carbon emission from the exhausts of these four million vehicles makes cycling on Pune roads extremely hazardous for the health also. There are cycle track boards but that’s all we have for the cyclists as what lies below those boards is joke on the name of cycle track, rather how a cycle track should not be is what being displayed under the name of cycle track is the fact! Right from planning of cycle tracks to its surface to its width nothing is right. In many cases these cycle tracks ends as abruptly as they starts, leaving the cyclists clueless as where to go next! Then there is no protection to these cycle tracks from both sides as on one side the commercial establishments along use this place as their birth right & from road side as many cycle tracks are in level with adjoining road surface the commuters driving or visiting these road side establishments parks their vehicles on the cycle tracks, forcing cyclists to get on the road & risk his life to the traffic. There is no plantation or any barrier along the cycle track which will shield the cyclists from the pollution of exhausts of the traffic is one more issue, which I even can’t dream that will be taken care ever! On all this background PMC is asking citizen’s suggestions of cycle plan, great, welcome, but why can’t you make one already designated cycle track in proper shape & then improve from that model is the question I want to ask? And then the issue is of destination or route of these cycle tracks because is the city really in position to make people cycle for their daily needs, ask this first to ourselves! Here I mean planning of the city as we don’t have clearly defined work district like down town & residential areas. We allow any type use anywhere in the city so how we are going to define the destination & the start of bunch of cyclist citizens, if we want to make a dedicated track for them?
 Leave cycling for a while; let’s have a look at the scene of footpaths as third news was about formation of special anti-encroachment squad which will keep footpaths free for walkers. 

Indeed a welcome move but what is accountability of this squad & what about the pathetic conditions of the footpaths which makes a pedestrian impossible to walk on it? Who has stopped concerned departments to repair these footpaths & makes them at least user friendly for pdestrians? Is the said squad will be responsible for that too? Rather I feel deliberately the footpath surfaces are made un-walkable, so that space can be used by every other commercial entity from hawkers to beggars! And it’s not just about private vendors encroaching footpaths, what about flex & hoardings of the so called our leaders many of them are the elected members only, will this special squad dare not just to remove such flex/hoardings blocking footpaths but punish the concerned faces on the hoardings also? At the same time this squad should have authority to fine or confiscate parked vehicles on footpath as that is one major menace city pedestrians are suffering from & it’s in all part of city! Like Pune police has done “Buddy Cop” as well “Police Kaka” help line whats-app groups, we can think of forming ward wise whats-app groups for this special squad by virtue of it, the local residents can upload foot path encroachment snaps on it. Here I will share a noble initiative started by Sandip Khardekar & Manjusha Khardekar, who is elected members of PMC from ward 13. They have formed a group on whats-app & added many citizens of their ward in it along with PMC ward officers from all departments. Any complaint regarding any service citizen can upload & it’s followed by the elected member. The other two elected members i.e. Mrs. Madhuri Sahastrabudhhe & Deepak Pote are also in this group.

Let’s remember, just technology doesn’t make difference it’s the way we use it is what changes our lives! The city do believe in efforts being taken by the system named PMC but just announcing policies of formation of some task force or squad won’t work. Because if the citizens will feel that their life has become a shade better by all such things in reality, then only their belief will converted in to trust on the system we call government & that’s what we call “Achhe Din”! By the way, one more small news item got unnoticed as many thought its good joke; the news was about applying fine of Rs. 25,000 for spitting/ making streets or public places dirty! No one believed it anyways but what I feel is, unfortunately a society where such fine for spitting on road, needs to be applied, such society don’t deserve clean surrounding because can someone fine a stray dog or a pig for being dirty! We as a society, displays worst attitude towards our very own city than even these poor species is a bitter fact, but seems PMC authorities doesn’t understands this fact so keep trying, is all I can say to conclude!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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

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



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

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

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

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Creating a Disaster Free City!






“Bad things do happen in the world, like war, natural disasters, and disease. But out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things”… Daryn Kagan.
Daryn A. Kagan is an American broadcast journalist, formerly a news anchor for CNN. From 1994 to 2006, Kagan served as a CNN main anchor and correspondent based in CNN's world headquarters of Atlanta, Georgia. Though nearly four years back while writing my views about Uttaranchal floods, I have used above words yet some words of wisdom are such that one always gets benefitted whenever you recite them & Kagan’s above words are one such!  This time thankfully I am not writing about any disaster but it’s in reference with a workshop organized BNCA (prominent architectural college in Pune) when I have been invited to speak from a developers perspective about disasters! Well, I was thrilled as whatever disaster happens in this city most of the time it’s blamed on builder fraternity only! May it be by media or even masses as most are convinced that any bad thing happening to the city, it’s due to nexus of builders along with politicians & corrupt govt officers (its media’s term, pardon me if anybody offended). So on such background I am being invited as a builder to speak about disaster & its rescue operation as well pre-care is something unique & I grabbed this opportunity. Though it’s always difficult to narrate what you have spoke though with writing medium I will try to share my views as it reaches to larger spectrum & awareness about the disasters is the first step & a vital one which mostly we ignore. As it’s rightly said the best way to face the disaster is to avoid it; but how you can avoid something which you are not known about, is the question I will ask.

Here I will share a wonderful story from our age old “Jatak Katha” , actually if we read & adopt, stories from Panchatantra, Esap Niti & Jatak Katha then we will be able to avoid most of the disasters is what I personally feel. Well in a village set in deep forest there was a ferryman who used to earn his living by ferrying villagers to other shore of the river which divides the village from outrĂ© world. One day a Pandit (learned man) was visiting the village & sat in the boat, the ferryman started rowing the boat. After some distance the Pandit asked the poor ferryman has he read Vedas (Books wrote by ancient wise men about Hindu Mythology). Obviously the ferryman replied sheepishly, no he hasn’t; on this the Pandit said oh what a loss, and your quarter of life has been wasted! Near midway the Pandit asked ferryman again had he read Upanishadas (books about Hindu Philosophy), again the ferryman said no he hasn’t. Hearing this, the Pandit exclaimed dear lord; your half life has been wasted.  Suddenly in the meantime a storm breaks up & the boat got in water current & started swaying violently. Sensing the boat might topple; the ferryman asked the Pandit can he swim. On this the frightened Pandit said, no he can’t swim; hearing this, the ferryman said, Panditji, what a shame, your entire life is a waste now!

The story ends here & on the same line whenever we discuss or speak about disaster, we have all theory in place along with the so called disaster management committee which includes govt officials from every dept & many so called experts yet disasters keeps happening & every time the system fails to avoid it as well even in post action, is a fact! Like the Pandit in the story, we have all book knowledge but rarely all that theory comes useful in disaster time. For avoiding or facing any disaster we need to understand what disaster means & the ways it will hit us. Broadly you can categorize 1. Natural disasters i.e. flood, earth quake, hurricane even draught (no rains). 2. Manmade disasters i.e. fire, accidents like building collapse. 3. Public health disasters i.e. epidemic diseases like swine-flu or dengue as cholera & plague are gone now. 4. Environmental disasters like the entire Shanghai city came to stand still due to air pollution & there were chaos all around in China few years back; same thing happened in Delhi also; then there are landslides causing heavy life as well wealth damage. Or jungle fires which are common in Australia or even USA, a recent one in California covered entire west part of State. 5. And lastly terrorist attacks are also new age disasters only! As an engineer as well developer I am fairly well versed with our city & except hurricane or earthquake, mostly every other disaster is manmade or having human factor responsible for creating it, is what I feel. Even with number of dams on the Mula/ Mutha rivers, its only bad management of water discharge from the dams, encroachments on water ways (read, river bed & nallahs/stream across the city) as well loss of tree cover, are the main causes of flooding disasters & not just heavy rain fall!

So when we know nearly 80% of disasters are man driven then question is what we are doing to avoid them? Well answer is we just are happy to perform mock drills & writing reports & publishing advertises on radio/TV about our efforts but we are not doing anything for long term solutions to avoid the disasters! For e.g. see the traffic congestion on our city’s roads, causing air pollution, with Delhi or Shanghai pollution disasters in-front of our eyes, still Pune roads are getting chocked up by the thousands of new vehicles every day; what are we doing to stop that flow of vehicles which are emitting tons of CO2 every day & polluting the air we breathe? Or take the examples of hundreds of Old Wadas on the verge of collapse, in the city or even many buildings which need structural audit, all PMC or civic body does is issue notices or declares in media that structural audit is mandatory but who is doing it & what is outcome if some building is found unsafe? Well, our rulers loves to make popular announcements like regularizing illegal constructions but nobody likes to announce unpopular policies directly related to public safety, which are actually like dosage of medicines which tastes bad but unless you swallow it you won’t get cured is simple fact! Another such location awaiting a disaster is slum around Parvati hills along the Sinhagd road; one heavy rain & stage is perfectly set for a massive land slide which will be taking thousands of lives considering the illegal development saturated all along those slopes. As the entire vegetation above the slum lines has been destroyed eroding soil cover as well there is no safety/ barrier wall to guide the water flow coming from the hill top safely away from those hutments. At the same time buildings are mushrooming from other side of the Paravti hills as well at base & I am not a geologist yet digging of hill with all heavy machinery for those building’s foundation must be causing enough vibrations in the hill’s rock pattern to speed up land slide is what I can guess! Or even a fire in the numerous slums spread around the city also can be a major disaster, with no roads for fire engines at such locations, or no proper fire hydrants in place, what more we can expect! In all such cases post disaster the civic administration often issue a public statement whenever a wada or a building collapses that they have been informed about danger & a notice has been given to residents but is that all? Can’t we come up with a scheme where if you don’t get structural audit of your building then your property tax will be made ten times than normal? Or cut the water supply or electric supply of such building as well slums unless they shift to a safer place? Well, we can’t, because we want to take only sweet decision is one thing & we are not prepared for pre or post disaster infrastructure is another fact.

When I say we lack disaster infrastructure then main thing is proper (read accurate) data about various statistics like locating probable locations where disasters can occur as well number of people who can be affected in disaster along with information about access ways & all rescue means. Remember data is the key whenever we are fighting with a faceless problem like disaster. Also making available all such data on public domain & make people aware about the threat they are living in; sad part is nobody knows whose responsibility is this. And all what govt does in the name of awareness from disasters is release pathetic advertises on radio which are very general & basic like, “go to higher places in case of flood”, types! And then temporary shelters is one more aspect which is most “Kamjor Kadi” in entire disaster management as need is permanent structures which can be used temporarily & spread all within as well around the city & in well maintained condition. Show me one disaster rescue settlement in the city which has clean & enough toilets, is equipped kitchens with enough food, has a trauma center with proper medical supplies & livable rooms for the victims of disasters; in cases like epidemic diseases we will even need isolation facilities for the patients & their relatives at such shelters. But fact is presently all we have is, make shift PMC schools as shelters or some tin shelters that too in remote places where no person will shift as mostly the flood prone people are class four workers & if they don’t have means of access to their daily work places they won’t ever shift from their existing residences, even risking their lives is a fact! We can think of utilizing amenity places (at least some of them) as disaster shelters which will be regular service apartment types & maintained by some professional agency. For this first prepare a prototype model of permanent shelters with all basic facilities as mentioned above, this can be done with the help of architecture college students. And then we can work out a policy by which in lieu of TDR the developer can build such facility in the amenity spaces of his project & hands over to PMC. We can even think of giving the developer responsibility of maintaining it against TDR or discount in premiums in such developer’s other projects, in proportion to maintenance cost for say 30 years period. We can also think of utilizing spaces around existing PMC schools premise or adding floors above them for building permanent rescue shelters. At the same time we can make use of existing open spaces in the layouts & as well keep some open spaces in the new DP i.e. development plan, where people can gather in case of earth quake type situation. One more thing is making all such disaster rescue shelters/centers locations & status available on mobile-app, so in case of emergency people on their own can reach here instead bothering administration or just running around.

Making people aware about the disasters is one important aspect & it’s not just about what to do during disaster but what to do to avoid the disasters is more important. And on this front we can think of roping in CREDAI like developer’s associations along with city planners & engineers to reach out to masses with solutions. At the same time do take professional people’s advise or suggestions in consideration on the subject because as the story of  the Ferryman & Pandit, it’s not just bookish knowledge but field experience also counts, especially while fighting disasters. Let’s remember the best thing one can have is a Disaster Free City & its every bodies job as when a hurricane or earthquake occurs it doesn’t categorize us by our caste, religion or position & that’s makes fighting with disasters, as every one of us responsibility!


-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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