Sunday, June 26, 2011

Accidentsche Shahar!


No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in a morning.  …Cyril Connolly

A good city is the one which offers good infrastructure to its residents & when we are talking of Pune becoming the next best Metro of the country it's our duty to see that the city stands to its requirements created by the growth. One very much important factor is roads & the safety they provides to the commuters. On the back ground of some recent very nasty road accidents in the city I think this is very important factor in the city image as well real estate. One will ask what relation between roads & real estate is. But remember real estate deal with living of people in the city & no aspect can’t be untouched by this industry which deals with the living of the people in the city. As the quote says a man decides to settle down in a city by considering all the factors. After all what are the expectation from any city, bare minimum good water, good roads are the very primitive & basic needs as rest follows. On this aspect what’s happening in our city? Every day we open news paper & we found some accident news taking lives of a few & leaving injured a many. The death toll in a year is far more than those have lost lives in bomb blast in Mumbai!

Let’s see some of the facts & figures on this front.

Figures from the National Crime Record Bureau’s (NCRB) 2007 report explicitly mention that in proportion to the city’s population, Pune ranks first in the number of road accident fatalities. The report also shows that in the same year, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of deaths due to road accidents in the country. In the year 2007, there were 3,40,794 such deaths recorded in the country. Out of these, 58,552 took place in Maharashtra alone.

According to the NCRB report, in the same year, Mumbai recorded the highest number of deaths in Mumbai – a total of 8,897 were killed in road accidents.  The state capital was followed by Pune with a total of 3,357 deaths due to accidents reported. This may be covering entire Pune region along with the accidents occurring on Express way, yet the truth remains that we are numero uno here! Other cities like Nagpur and Nashik registered a total of 1,534 deaths and 894 deaths, respectively.

PUNE ROADS ARE DEADLIEST...
Interesting thing is, although Mumbai has the highest number of deaths in the state, when these figures are looked at in proportion to the population of the city, Pune ranks first in the accidental death rate in the country. The report shows that the rate of accidental deaths in Mumbai is 54.4 while the same rate for Pune is 89.4 per lach population of the city & which is the highest in the country. The rate of accidental deaths for Nashik is also on the higher side at 77.6 while for Nagpur, it is 72.3.  

Sure these were 3 years back reports & recent reports would have only added to new high. It's not mere figures but it's the fear in the mind sets of the people residing in the city which also one has to count. I have tried two wheeler driving in the city & can imagine the risk it involves. Now one will say what one can do about it's the people who are driving like crazy & they are paying for it, what the city has to do in it! Well, we need to think as it’s our roads, our traffic & our people who are loosing their lives & faith from the system. Here are some figures about the Public Transport i.e. our beloved PMPML, popularly still PMT.

The total number of buses is much less as compared to the needs of the city. Transport experts recommend at least 40 buses for 1 lakh population, so Pune should have at least 1200 buses, whereas the present number is 850. Even of these, just 650 are on the roads. Nearly a hundred buses breakdown every day. This number is so high because
of the poor quality of the spare parts. And the buses in running condition are also in such a rickety shape that only those who have no other alternative travel in them. Because of all the above reasons, the frequency of the bus service is very poor; on top of it, the buses run late, very often they get cancelled too; consequently, bus users have to spend a considerable amount of time waiting at bus stops; finally, when the bus does come, it is often overcrowded! Worse, inefficiency for the reasons well known, have made the bus tickets very costly, so that for the poor, even the public bus system is no longer affordable when compared to other city's public transport! And so the number of bus users has been coming down and today just 22% of the city’s population uses the public bus service. There is propaganda about projects like BRT but except in few patches the system isn't a success is a well known fact.

Growth of Private Vehicles...
Because it takes so long to go anywhere by the PMT, whoever can afford it buys a scooter/motorcycle or a car. The result is: Pune’s become swamped by private vehicles. The number of vehicles in the city has crossed 14 lakhs, and is increasing by the hour. Every day in Pune, more than 450 vehicles are registered – 13,000 a month, 1.6 lakhs a year. And
even this huge growth is increasing every year, at a whopping rate of 33%! It is evident that this growth rate is simply unsustainable. Urgent steps need to be taken to curb this increase in the number of vehicles. Otherwise, Pune’s roads, already heavily congested, will get totally clogged.

And here is where the main key lies for the other outcome arising from this ever increasing number of vehicles on the roads? Road accidents will increase which we are all experiencing all ready. Not to forget the emission of N number of gasses due to combustion of various fuels. Let’s keep them away for some time but the main question remains, is the city going to make the residents safe on road? And what concrete plans we are having for the same? First and fore most is to make the conditions of road proper as that itself will help in avoiding accidents of two wheelers. As many a places we see the road has been dug & no proper signage is there or the chambers covers of drainage line are not in level or the tarring work is not in level & the edges of the layers cause the vehicle slip & the list goes on. And as a responsible citizen we too should not just blame the PMC but try to inform the authorities in the best way we can, as we are best at criticizing but worst to do things at our end. Even as a developer when ever we have to cut the road or make some such job then we should be keen on making the road back in proper shape. Even the cycle tracks & footpaths are not in good shape making commuters impossible to use them & this leads to mix traffic on main roads causing more accidents. Stringent & strict traffic rules implementation along with helmet is a must & I still can’t understand a learned /educated city like Pune has worst traffic sense! Here we have to teach ourselves & make us think for not only self life but others who are using the road too!

Another important factor which nearly ever NGO as well media has tried to put forward is improvement of Public transport, as this has no substitute! We don't need any scientist to tell us about the importance of Public Transport as the more people will use the same the lesser vehicles will be on road & obviously the fewer accidents there will be. And a good public transport system is life line of the city & unfortunately we are cutting very own of ours.

The side effects are pollution, cutting of trees and forests to make new and wider roads to accommodate more vehicles is going to make pollution levels increase at double quick rates, because trees are pollution sinks. The quality of life in the city will also rapidly worsen, as open spaces and gardens get used up to build parking lots for cars.  When we speak about growth of our city it's not just IT parks or Education Institutes we have but the living atmosphere we provide to so many of residents which have migrated here for good life. No two minds about need of the time as we need roads & parking spaces for the existing vehicles as strengthening of public transport isn't one night job but let’s not forget that the trees & human lives are more important than the cars. And it's all of ours job to make the both survive & grow in safe environment. Then only we will be real proud to call our self a real good Metro City of coming era! Because then only more & more people will choose this city as their home & contributing for wellness of the same!






Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !

http://visonoflife.blogspot.com/

Social Side of Sanjeevani !

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16939159@N05/sets/72157625491480779/

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Think Green, Think Life

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Road cutting & the city!




Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress... Martin Luther King


When I read this quote it make me remember a news saying MSEDL i.e. MSEB earlier, has decided to move back on laying over head power cables because of heavy road cutting charges demanded by PMC for laying the underground cables! After this news the authorities woke up & then it’s decided that the rate per running meter length for road cutting of MSEB cable lying will be approximate Rs 1000/meter. Though this rate is also too much but all other purposes it is still Rs 4000/meter! Means if a person has to lay a cable for MSEB say 300 feet then he has to pay nearly Rs 4 lacs to PMC for road cutting charges when with any logic the amount don’t come more than 1 lac to do the road of best quality for this length. Actually in first place this is infrastructure work & is supposed to be done by MSEB only but as they don’t have enough funds it’s agreed mutually that it will be carried out by the person/ institute who is in need of the supply. On the top of it one has to pay 15% as supervision charges to MSEB for this work. Now if the MSEB is laying the cable they are charged at rate of 1500/meter but if the same cable is laid by private person then it’s charged more than 2.5 times! Why? No idea! Leave apart power cables or telephone cables, the same rate is applicable for water line development or drainage line development which actually is part of PMC infrastructure! Does all these departments pay such amounts to the road department when they carry out the work, is the question common man will like to know! Many a times when the drainage line or water line is passing through the embankment where paving isn’t done yet the same rate of road digging is applied.
One will think this is typical builder's cry (like Crocodiles weeping) as it's them who is getting pinched here & what matters if they have to squeeze out some money for city development? Well, point taken but then from whom the builder is going to recover this money? And this is why I keep on pointing out towards such issues which on surface looks like harmless enough for common man but in actual all such things makes an home un-affordable for him! Nobody is against the charges but there should be some yard stick & they should be reasonable, not less or more! As every single rupee added wrongly on any new construction is making the home costlier for the citizens. I repeat its not that this is the only reason for making the homes costliear, there are other factors but unless we consider each & every factor & dealt with reasonably we won’t be able to reduce the cost of production of the homes!
No doubt again the roads should be maintained in roper condition & digging does make them sustainable to damage by wear & tear but why we require digging the road repeatedly this question also the local body should ask them self! Fact is the standard procedure of having service lines on both sides of the road & proper crossings at regular interval has not been followed along many roads in the city. It’s ok, we were developing & all good things don’t happen over night but why the new development should be punished for this lacuna? Here I will suggest something about this issue which is in a hot seat for few years now. Since last 5/6 years time & again the point has been raised about the road cutting charges, what I feel is keep a separate table with fixed rates per running meter for different road categories. We can work out the rate by sitting across with the road department engineers & settle this issue once for all. The present rate are high or low isn’t the issue lets work out the actual costing involved & freeze it for a year as well the simple & faster procedure for the same. As any delay in such clearance is going to delay the infrastructure setting of the city. What is happening is either the works are getting delayed or getting costlier or there is unauthorized road digging going on rampantly all around the city, making the city loose huge income, just to save the huge charges involved in road cutting is also a fact.
We can also allow the developer to get the road work done & get NOC for the same through the same person who is analyzing road cutting charges by charging 7-8% supervision fees of the estimate. As it has been observed even after paying the charges yet the patch of road remains undone & that's not the result we want. If we allow the concerned person then for his interest at least he will get the work done fast & immediately after the digging is done in a stipulated time span. Or else charge him the fines. Because timing is also important issue as we can’t allow the digging work going on for months & causing inconvenience to the other users just because permission has been sanctioned for the same.
 Another issue is we should acknowledge a fact that whether its power cable/drainage/water line/gas line/rain water drains all these are for strengthening the infrastructure of the city only & in ideal situation no consumer has to be required to dig the road at all, such should be the condition. But as we have yet to reach that stage to provide such network the consumer has to dig the road. Actually he is doing the job of the govt, so considering this aspect we should decide the road cutting charges.
 In no case we should allow overhead cables for whatever purposes it may telephone, internet or power as the losses are more & we are already short of power. Also no doubt about the maintenance costs incurred for the same are much more than underground. Aesthetics of the city is yet another issue for the overhead lines as we all know how the sky line looks with the number of power lines/cables crisscrossing our sky. Also the poles needs stays to keep it balanced & they are major obstructions on footpaths & cycle tracks, becoming the main cause of accidents as they are literally invisible at night time.

Here role of every body concerning to the city is important as its not for any community we are talking about but the rationality in the system so right from the elected members to public servant to NGO's every one has to speak out what they feel & stand behind the right way of charging.



Sanjay Deshpande

Chairman ,Envo -Power Committee,PBAP.


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !

http://visonoflife.blogspot.com/

Social Side of Sanjeevani !

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16939159@N05/sets/72157625491480779/

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Think Green, Think Life

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Hon Environment Minister Sir…





Dear Mr. Jairam Ramesh,

Hon Minister of Environment & Forests, India.

First of all let me congratulate you, for completing 1 year at Environment & Forest Ministry, that too as for the 1st time we have got a minister for such a sensitive dept who has enough knowledge base to handle it & the passion too! I am writing this after going through a news in which it’s quoted you saying “To take the forest cover to 33% i.e. the ideal figure is impossible because of increasing urbanization”.This was said at Green Earth Summit 2011 as per the news. Then there was another news, very recent, about elephant entering in city like Mhysore & making havoc, indicating something is very wrong in our Development policies & we are unable to strike the balance between Cities & Forests!

Sir I am an urban developer as well a resident too! Urbanization is a fact & housing is need of the time, we try to strike the balance between Concrete jungles & a Natural jungle is all I can say. We have formed a cell of Environment at our builders association level as to make the developers aware is the imp task along with the customers. Eco housing is something very important aspect for any city & I try to do as much I can on any of the available platform & that's why when I got this mail id I thought of writing u, though I even don't know whether this will reach to u ever! I think we need to take more effort about this right from school level as Environment is one subject which one may read in books but have to learn in field! I have worked for forests, military & each experience has become a case study in itself.

Sir, right from the tree cutting issue, to river pollutions in the cities to alarmingly increasing imbalance of biodiversity ,many issues needs proper policy & not just emotional decision for which our rulers are famous for. Right now there isn't a single body which governs or takes responsibility of environment in the city. And on the front of controlling all these things we have Municipal Corporation, Collector, State Pollution Control Board, Central Pollution Control Board, Irrigation Dept, Jeewan Pradhikaran (controlling water), Cantonments, Urban Development, State Environment Ministry, Central Environment Ministry & what not! My my! It’s like a school with number of Head Masters! And then there are State Electricity boards for power supply who are interested in securing their interests than just power saving as they are now private company!

We need to decide that who will exactly control the Environment along with the Urban Development & it’s out come & how we are going to make the number of homes that too affordable for the urban poor or we can say all segments of the society, so as a balance is made between the two demands i.e.  Environment Conservation & need of homes!

Many of present policies regarding the housing in Metros are mostly out dated or designed on the assumptions that all the developers are thief's (true at some extent) & to avoid development than to make a proper balanced development. Similar situation about forest dept, so many obstacles that when I was working in Ranthambore forest the concerned officer in charge over there was afraid of digging even a boar well within core area, when that was the only source of water to make the animals around survive in hot summer.

Our country is large & probably the most diversified, speaking along scales of Geography, Geology, Culture & Economy. And all these four factors decide the faith of environment of a locality. For example you cant have the same rain water harvesting techniques which you will use in Rajasthan where rainfall if 5" to 6 " per year, in city like Pune ( where I reside) which has rain fall of nearly 29" per year. Then we need to consider their years of life style of using water & economic conditions to sustain the systems we will be using for treating or reusing the water! And this is just one issue of water we are talking about, there are hundreds of such to dealt with, region wise. When we talk about any Metro we just think about Public Transportation, Water & Cheaper Homes & Slums! Is that all? A city isn't just human beings around, it’s the every animal who lives in & around & trees too. Agreed I myself am a builder & know the importance of proper housing, but are we restricting the word housing to just human beings? Then who will take care of all the other living species around! As a city doesn’t mean just human beings within, it’s for all those who reside within, even the trees! The trees are bound to give the way for homes but then who will give way for new trees & how? Today literally ever Municipal Corporation have different ideas but same DC rules & the change takes so long that the cause vanishes till the change in rules come. For e.g. the development plan of my Pune city, it’s nearly 8 years now it hasn't final, then how one can assure proper Environmental control if we don't have the Development plan itself! Now, people will ask what the connection between D.P & Environment is! Well for the very basics, we can start planting trees categorically along the proposed road from right now so when the traffic will increase we could have the trees grown & ready to absorb the emitting CO2! Similar situation about the power ( electric) demand of the city, till we don’t know which area will be under what use, how we are going to plan the power network in the city, which again usually laid along the roads! As well the receiving stations & substations space allocation for proper distribution is must & which is part of the DP. These are just few smallest examples. And we are not being able to do it is a fact.

About forests also, it’s the surrounding people's approach towards the forests which is going to decide the faith of that forest. Sitting in Metros we won’t be able to decide the policy about the Tigers which are reducing each day. The issues of individual forests, like any urban city has to be planned region wise & a draft plan with dead lines to follow has to be prepared. Right now we have Tiger Task Force since last three /four years but what’s the actual outcome? I don't doubt the sincerity of the task force members but repeatedly Tigers are reducing in numbers is also a fact; rather the force seems to be focusing on Tigers & not jungles around the tiger. As the tigers only are not going to survive, it’s the whole chain of species right from its preys to human being around i.e. tribes, which needs to be preserved then only the tiger will survive. And this chain deals with habitat conservation so again we end up at square one of Cities vs. Forests issue & who rules what! 

And again it's not just Tiger, as today it's the tiger who is taking the leash, tomorrow it will be Panther then even the Lomdi or Fox will get vanished. Ultimately they don't have hordes of Karyakarta's running the rallies or Neta's to take care of their interests, it’s people like you & me who have to look after them.

I know we can’t have all the solutions overnight leave apart the results but at least try in systematic manner & let’s go the root level & with wide open view. It's situation around any city in our country & we need a single controller at this front. Any assistance from our side will be at your service is all I can say.


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !

http://visonoflife.blogspot.com/

Social Side of Sanjeevani !

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16939159@N05/sets/72157625491480779/

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Think Green, Think Life

Friday, June 3, 2011





Don't blow it- good planets are hard to find...PaoloCoelho.
In tune with the great author,World Environment Day (WED) is a day that stimulates awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and public action. It is on 5 June. It was the day that United Nations conference on Human & Environment began. The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was from 5–16 June 1972 in Stockholm. It was established by the United Nations Assembly in 1972. The first World Environment Day was on 1973. World Environment Day is hosted every year by a different city with a different theme and is commemorated with an international exposition in the week of 5 June. World Environment Day is in summer in the Northern Hemisphere and winter in the Southern Hemisphere. World Environment Day is similar to Earth Day, but with wider concept, covering the issues which are related to human as well other species. Each year different theme is adopted & its lead by different country. Last years theme was "Forests-Nature At Your Service". Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods. They play a key role in our battle against climate change, releasing oxygen into the atmosphere while storing carbon dioxide. Thousands of activities were organized worldwide, with beach clean-ups, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, community events and much more. Similarly 2010's theme was "Many Species, One Planet, One Future”, was the theme of 2010 Earth Day. It celebrated the incredible diversity of life on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity. This year's global host, Rawanda– a country of exceptional biodiversity that has made huge strides on environmental protection – leaded the celebrations with three days of keynote events.

On the back ground let’s see what’s happening at our end? As in any Metro the scene is same here may it been Pune or Mumbai or Chennai. Our country has now clearly been divided in Urban & Rural & no two minds that needs to conserve the environment more! With more & more people tending to live in Cities it’s obvious that the balance of nature too is shifting as we live on Natural resources & with more people living in lesser area the problems are bound to happen. Right now we are consuming all the natural resources right from Water to Fuels like the world is going to end tomorrow only!  Most of the cities are facing problems of Water & Power shortages, Sound pollution & Air pollution are at peak & Green Cover is rapidly decreasing along with the bio-diversity around. Public transport not only within the city but even connecting the cities is also very inadequate. If you don't believe me then go to any railway station or bus station & ask for the ticket of next train or bus connecting to another major city! You don't get it; the reservation charts of railways gets full within the minutes of the booking get opened! We are heavily depending on our own transport leading to use of more fossil fuels i.e. Diesel/Petrol leading to more emission of more carbon dioxide. We are unable to breech the gap between poor & rich & that's giving avenue to more slums. Now many a will say what it has to take with Environment? It’s the disparity which makes a man to forget about the Environment & chase his basic needs which again loads the deteriorating Environment. For e.g. a person living in slum don't have basic infrastructure like drainage, so naturally he choose an adjoining river or open space for the same & the result is known to us. Well, what is Environment Conservation after all? Its nothing but to protect & conserve natural resources right from the air we breathe to the water we drink & to keep the surrounding we live in livable for a common man along with other species from sparrow to smaller trees!
And what we are doing instead? We have forgotten about maintaining biodiversity i.e. that there are other species also on this earth who belongs to be here with us & we run Save Tiger campaigns by sitting in our Living room & via sms's or logging in some web sites to show our support for Save Tiger movement & think we are caring for Environment! We blame on Govt & ever other entity for every wrong thing happening regarding Environment & don't bother even to segregate dry & wet garbage of our own house! Cool, Ignorance is the bliss, is what wise men had said & I found it true when I look at such attitude of people in cities! So, what right we have to even read about WED? I think answers do not lies somewhere else but within.
Instead for waiting for some other agency & provide us better Environment there are so many things which we can do by our own self & then only we can expect assistance from others. Here many a will ask what as an individual I can do on such a huge problem? Exactly there lies the answer as the efforts starts from this very understanding i.e. the search of this question! First of all try to focus on your own daily life & how you can contribute on various aspects? Basic issues are very simple & short in numbers. You need clean & fresh air to breath, clean potable water is a scarce commodity & how you can save it? Garbage is the biggest threat to every town & city & you can think how you can reduce the generation of garbage at your end as well assist in treating/recycling what ever has been generated. Agreed public transport isn't in your control but you can think of going a step forward & ask them for car pool for your work travel or even for jointly sending your kids to school by one of the neighbors car by turns of each one saving on time as well fuel. You can think of trying to utilize rain water in your premise & reduce water wastage in your complex. You can think of using solar water heating system & reduce use of electricity, also think of using less power consuming utensils as well maintain them regularly by proper servicing of the same, so as they run on optimum power. Try to plant a tree by your self & make it survive. Let’s decide that you won’t be honking the horns of your vehicles & wont burn fire crackers along with the banning loud bands in your family celebrations. Try to share with those who have no access to many good things in life such as sponsoring a trip however small it may be a nature trip for a poor boy when you are taking your own kids to a summer trip. This will not make only the poor boy's holiday but will give him exposure to the things which otherwise are difficult to teach by mere words. And we can take lead for making aware our fellow members if living in a society thus not restricting our keenness to save the Environment to our own self!

Last but not least try to support the people who are doing something positive about the Environment by knowing their work & then by associating your self with them in any way. This we can know while buying a product right from home to a small bulb, which may be a bit costly in compare to other bulb but ends up saving your electric bill. And don't wait for somebody else doing this job for you as unless & until you don't consider as it's Your Environment ,you are not entitled to celebrate the WED i.e. World Environment Day in real means!


--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !

http://visonoflife.blogspot.com/

Social Side of Sanjeevani !

http://www.flickr.com/photos/16939159@N05/sets/72157625491480779/

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Think Green, Think Life