Saturday, July 23, 2011

Safe City, whose responsibility is it?




I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.... Abraham Lincoln.


Each day when we read news about a blast or things like that most of us must be thinking who is next & where? I think generation of this question in itself is a victory of the forces behind such incidences! Nothing wrong about our mind set but important is its each of ours job to ensure for not letting such things happens.

Here I remember a story of Akbar-Birbal...
Once on their routine rounds around city in disguise Badsha asked Birbal, what is the best weapon? Birbal replied the one which is at hand in crisis! Badshah wasn't satisfied with the reply & they continued their walk. Suddenly a small commotion break up as an elephant got wild & making his way from a busy bazar road thrashing whatever coming in its way. Many people were trying to control him with weapons & the tries were futile as elephant wasn't coming under control by any weapon. He was charging straight towards the duo, confused Badshah was looking towards what to use as there was no way to run, Birbal suddenly grabbed a stray dog running past & threw it to the elephant! It hit the elephant straight at head & with this sudden charge the elephant got bewildered & calm down! Birbal just looked at Badsha & smiled! The Badsha has understood the lesson!

Well this was a story after all but when ever we think of crisis management it has a great meaning. When ever we think about such incidences a crisis management consists of two way action plan, one is what we are doing for not allowing such things to happen & second is what arrangements we have after such thing happens? Agreed as Birbal has said the weapon at hand is best but what we will be having at hand & how we will be using it, a little planning does help as not all are as witty as the great wise man! On this background let's see what happening around/

Not necessary that every time there will be a blast there can be earth quake, flooding due to heavy raining, a fire & any natural calamity can hit us! A good city isn't just IT parks or Gardens or Monuments but a good city is the one who assures safe life for its citizens & its high time for our beloved Pune to understand this & do little self assessment on these standards. We do read mock drills by the police at various places but is the outcome really assessed & the lacunas get covered after the post mortem? This never comes to public. I think authorities needs to think on this front. Even a advanced country like Japan can get hit worst which we saw recently but what was not highlighted or studied is the way they have faced that blow. Wouldn't it help if the authorities send their officers there post quake & make a detailed report how they are recovering & reacted & mind, its not just government but role of private segment also as the quake doesn't recognize whether you are private or govt establishment. On this background how many of corporate sector who can afford has sent or thought of doing so how the private sector has been prepared for such disaster & how they have faced it? I don't think at least don't know any body has even given a thought. We visit foreign countries for pleasure but never for this angle! This is what is lacking in our attitude. Simple things like what kind of precautions one should take in our day to day life if we make a questioner & share around I am sure not many will like the outcome as we indeed are ignorant on this front & then we blame everybody from Govt to Politicians!

The city has many areas where we have witnessed the fire pumps couldn't go during fire why we don't have a separate fire water line net work around such developments which can be used at times of fire where the tankers can’t go at crisis & people have lost lives. We haven't yet identified list of such places, to my knowledge & if it is there the list has been never published. Because if we are not even listing down the places where a crisis can happen how we are going to make people aware about the same or make a action plan what to do at such times? Agreed no planning should have been the way some areas have been developed but now when we have accepted the facts, question is what we are doing with what we have at hand? The New DP as well the existing DP which is under making must have such localities marked with different color i.e. zone along with the provision for separate infrastructure at the time of crisis. Especially slums as well gaothns  should be carefully studied & arrangements like fire water lines, marking of emergency escape routes, medical aid & open spaces around should be made available & kept clear always. Same thing about a balanced stock of various things right from blankets to clothing should be kept ready & in all zones of the city, at least some basics which can be used as first course of action after the natural calamity strikes.

Even in new projects now they are making two staircases compulsory for building more than 15 meter heights (well that is a joke as the kind of construction we have in residential building there are very few chances of spreading fire) but at the same time in big complexes as well commercial complexes not only fire staircase but fire ways should also be marked which can be used in calamities like earth quake. Thanks god at least we dont have to worry for chemical calamity like Bhopal yet dont forget about the organizations like HEMRL as well ERDL which deals with heavy explosive material. Long back they were away from city but now with western subarbs developing, thee establishments are now either surrounded by residential growth or on the boundary of it. So one has to be always ready for something which hasn't happened yet!

Last & foremost is the coordination between various departments! We saw few days back when the discharge from the Khadakwasala increased the Bhide bridge went underwater & with all prior warnings from irrigation department yet number of cars get flooded! What bigger mockery then crisis management we need to prove how much improvement is required at this front in the city! And remember it was controlled known flood! Imagine something happening out of blue & suddenly we will find looking at each other. Mock drills are conducted by the Police for Bomb threat or Terrorist attacks but what about such drills for natural calamities & where is the account of the outcome? How many common citizen’s have been trained or given exposure for such times? Sadly our exposure is restricted to Inet & Tv, god bless what will happen when we have to face something in actual. And what is worst part is exactly whose responsibility is this, that no one knows!

A good city is the one which makes the citizens at peace by the infrastructure it provides & attitude of the rulers towards such issues, as in this era no Birbal will be coming to our rescue in crisis! As the great man Lincoln has said, need of the time is to put up the realty to the people! Till then we all have one such Birbal in us, lets wake him up & use it in advance, is the true care we will be taking for our own self as well for the city.



--
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

Saturday, July 2, 2011

City of Law Suits!


After hearing the evidence, I will record a verdict of natural causes… Joan Owen


Recently all news papers carried news about the Hon District Court passing a judgment in a matter of law suit involving PMC & an NGO. The matter was about making a road from river bed Mutha connecting the west & east sides of city & claimed to be reducing major traffic load from the existing road network of the city. The matter was going on since 2000! Because of which the road work has been held up for last so many years, now the court has ruled against the NGO whose stand was PMC has no right for making such road & the court has even ordered to pay PMC the court fees involved for causing delay in the road development work! Also the court has given a month’s status quo to allow the concerned NGO to appeal to the High Court.

Few days back there was another news about Hon High Court ordering a ban over the Tree Authority giving permission to the tree cuttings in Pune city & asking any body who wants to cut a tree for any cause to apply to the Hon Court for the permission via PMC garden department. Months after the Bombay High Court imposed restrictions on Pune Tree Authority's powers to grant permission for cutting trees, the PTA is all set to appeal against the decision in the Supreme Court.

It was on May 6, 2009 that the HC had first issued an order restricting the Pune Municipal Corporation's tree authority from granting permission to cut trees within its limits without the court's approval. The order was passed after the hearing of a public interest litigation filed by Pune-based environmentalist Deepak Balkrishna Vahikar regarding felling of 1,522 trees by the civic body.

Although the PMC appealed against the order, the HC stood its ground and issued a revised interim order on July 8, stating that the tree committee should first carry out a survey taking the assistance of an expert body and submit its report to the court, after which only those trees that are dangerous to life and property will be cut. The HC had noted that these orders were passed in the interest of maintaining the ecological balance within and beyond Pune's urban agglomeration.  Now, the civic body is set to approach the Supreme Court. It will argue that all its decisions regarding the felling of trees are taken after taking the rules and regulations into consideration.

And one more news which has made head a line in recent past is about Court Stays Bal-Bharati Paud Road Construction! PMC Court on 27th April 2006 ordered Status Quo in respect of road construction from Bal-Bharati to Paud. Responding to the petition filed by Parisar claiming that PMC was violating several sections of law in constructing this road, the court has ordered Status Quo in construction on various grounds stopping the construction of the very road. The legal battle is on & the road work is at stand still at present.

Strange world we are living in! With all due respect to Hon Court’s authority & jurisdiction in the very matters, because it’s not about what they should decide as once we are in their jurisdiction we have to honor the outcome! It’s the way things are going especially about the development of this very city is a matter of concern!

I have full faith about the NGO’s & their workings but some times is it not equally important to consider the cause from multidimensional & then enter in to legal suit? As once you enter in that zone there is no turning back & the sufferer is not the PMC or any Public Body, it’s the Public at large. Like the river road case is going since last 10 years & it has made the life of commuters miserable because for the first few years its condition was horrible & yet its under use naturally giving a bumpy ride to all those who were using it. Then for few days the statuesque was lifted & PMC paved( dambrikaran) some portion yet its width & other safety measures are not in proper places resulting major accidents on the same. Also the entrance to the very same road is a bottle neck creating havoc for the users as well people residing in the surrounding. And PMC can’t do any thing about it as the matter is in court!

Now as a lay man & citizen of this very cityI have few questions ( with no intention to hurt any bodies intentions as well to doubt Hon Court’s judging powers) such as if the matter was stayed down & PMC was not allowed to even repair the road or its access then why they allowed traffic on the very road? Why the NGO didn’t seek to the court for banning the use of very road,till the final verdict comes? Another thing, couldn’t the NGO whose intention was for the betterment of the city has seen that if so many people are using the road that means people were in need of that road, so if people of the city have accepted the road why the NGO continued with the law suit? Agreed Hon Court cant on there own produce the evidences or statements of the specialists in the field in such matter but cant they urge both the sides to produce all the required evidences about their say & give the verdict on urgent basis to give the faster verdict when the whole west part of city is at stake?

Similar things have been happening on the other two matters. No one doubts importance of trees in the city but even if to cut a single tree or major branches which is coming right in the development, to go & take permission from Hon High Court which is in Mumbai is surely a difficult task for a common man or any entity. We could have a simpler system to analyze the importance of the need of cutting any tree & accommodate that need. This shows what trust Hon Court is having in the existing system, then isn’t the need to change or improve the system is more important than Hon Court itself taking up the task of scrutinizing the tree cutting requests, is what a common man will think! The natural outcome of this will be people will stop taking any such permission for such cause & this you can confirm by the number of applications coming for the permission of tree cutting now & before this law suit! The number of request for tree cutting has been significantly reduced after this verdict & that doesn’t mean tree cutting has been reduced! We need tress but we need roads, homes, hospitals & many more things also. Important is balancing both & not just one entity & the logical approach should be to set up a system which will accommodate both i.e. development as well trees.

 

In Balbharti hill road  case which is a DP road shown in Development plan & would be a good alternative to existing over- over loaded Law college road, again & again both parties are fighting with tooth & nails about making or not making the road but who thinks for the alternative source of commuters. On one hand NGO’s stand is to improve Public Transport about which no two minds, but a lot has to be done on that front till then what about the 14 million vehicle holders in the city out of which many of them who have been in cross fire of all this legal war? As they are neither getting a good public transport nor good roads!

The Court’s power has its own importance & this power should be used very balancing way. There are many issues right from the Development Plan of the city isn’t getting sanctioned for last ten years, then why on this no NGO or PMC itself goes to court & ask to speedup up the permission process at the level of who ever has held it up? The new parking policy of PMC isn’t practical & it will only help in generating more vehicles on road, here too no one goes in court & the policy is being implemented facilitating more vehicles on road & we are fighting over making of roads! Instead of opposing just few roads we should hit the cause itself by using the power of court is what I feel. Why no body is going in oppose of Public Body in court & ask them to give exact target & mode by which they will be improving the existing road conditions as well public transport?  Same thing about declairing policy for the Affordable Housing, no one knows how & when? So many whys a common man is having in the city over which the Public body’s are keeping mum & NGO’s or Private entities are not taking cognizance of the same!

 

At last why can’t any we seek justice in any matter instead of celebrating a one dimensional victory? I think there lies the future of our very city! Till then let’s honor the respected Court’s judgment keeping faith in the great man’s quote about the verdict!




--
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