Monday, October 31, 2011

FSI & City Grwoth!





Pune is famous for the cutouts & uncalled birthday hoardings yet few of the cut outs are there for public awareness too & one such caught my attention on FC road. It’s a questioner by an association related to developers/engineers & few questions were asked to the passer by about whether it’s right to increase FSI of the buildings in city & is it wise to let the city grow further more when already the infrastructure is weak & insufficient for the existing population. And is it practical to allow the population grows further & to entertain the new industries as well development which meant the new buildings!

Being an engineer as well developer by profession, the hoarding caught my attention & so as the thought process! After all why & how a city grows? And if yes then can we control growth of any city by just not giving additional FSI? More to add then do we really want our city to stop growing? I think the third question can be the key to earlier two questions! Why we want this city to stop growing? Is it the infamous Train effect? Like in train which is running full, at each station the new comers are not welcomed by the insiders type! Have we got the right to stop the new comers when at some stage we too were new comers in this train? Agreed after a certain capacity it wont be possible for any bogie to accommodate the new comers & the result is disaster for all the occupants but in train there are other bogies or even next train in case. Have we got that kind of alternative for this very Pune city? The migration towards the cities is not new now as it’s not the cities which are lacking in infrastructure it’s the towns & villages which are not even having basics of them. As to lack you need to have something in basic to be existed which isn’t & that’s why more & more people are opting to shift to the cities making them metros! Nobody leaves his native place in will or by choice, it’s the forced decision in most cases as in present times considering the inflation rate, a city life is much costlier than the village life is a fact. Then why a person opts for moving out of his town or village & comes to city is a question to be studied.


Now after accepting that people are migrating to the cities lets come to the issue that how we are going to check this up at city end? Think about the kind of system we have developed here & what it takes to keep this system in operation?
We have development plans for the city & it’s said to be accommodative for coming 20 years. If this is true then why we are worried about city getting over populated! As that must have been considered while making the plan which includes infrastructure for this population too! Thing is we are too slow on making the development plan & then slower ate executing the same. For e.g. take the DP of extended PMC limit, still it’s in process of approval since last 7-8 years & with every segment crying over it! Yet as a city we are failure to get something sanctioned which we only have planned & we are talking about curtailing the new growth by not giving additional FSI.

Here it’s important to understand the concept of FSI, its Floor Space Index which means a factor which decided how much constructed area you can have on a particular piece of land. Usually in Pune city its 1, means we can built as much area of the plot only. In gaothan i.e. old city it’s 2 & in some case where number of existing residents are more its 2.375. Yet it’s less for redeveloping such old tenements which we call wadas. Also above this TDR is allowed which is 0.60 times the FSI permitted on the plot. But presently due to procedural delays TDR is getting one of the scarcest commodities in real estate. Some where this does lead to increase in costing of the homes.

The city has already grown up as a metro of future & so as our demands of life style from the same. And to fulfill these demands we need man power which in end needs residences. Any city which makes new job opportunities available becomes hot destination for real estate is a fact. And Pune has got IT industry, Production/Auto industry, Education Industry & fast growing service industry. All these industries are need of the city as they provide jobs to thousands in this city & in turn these thousands need homes is a fact. And that too in a reasonable costing along with basic infrastructure like water, drainage, power & transportation. Here we are not even thinking about cultural as well social infra like entertainment, education & medical! It’s this front we are neglecting & that’s why people have reached to the conclusion of curtailing the growth of the city itself! As what’s point in expanding if we are not able to cope up with existing demands. Though it will be suicidal attempt is what my personal opinion. Because for development works we need money & its going to come from the revenue coming from various forms because of new development only. We are not doing anything about increasing taxation of old establishments then from where we are going to raise the money if we ban or curtail new industries, it parks or constructions? Today the development charges as well octroy on various items makes the most of PMC inflow in budget. What will happen to that, have we worked out any alternate source of income? Sadly the answer to my knowledge is a big no!

Let the city prosper & for that we can take examples of similar cities around, how they have coped up with the growing population. Problem is there are enough examples around right from Nagpur to Ahemadabad but are we ready to really adopt such things? FSI may seem to be the issue behind population growth but it’s not the real culprit. For e.g. Hyderabad don’t have the concept like FSI, you can build as much as you can by paying premiums to the local body & following the norms like side margins & parking & yet they don’t have infrastructural problems. Rather as the home prices are in control so more & more companies are choosing that city as option. Similar liberal policies about the FSI have been adopted by many cities & they are not having any problems which we are having even with FSI controls are here.


I think need of the time is to plan properly & plan fast and then execute what you have planned. As the quote says we needs to understand the planning concept before we decide on rules/policies which will stop or curtail our growth or else we will be ending up like the infamous “Shekhchily, who cut down the very branch on which he was sitting”!


--
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/65629150@N06/sets/72157627981139310/

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

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Forest, Camera, Action!




Sadly, it's much easier to create a desert than a forest... James Lovelock


Come any holiday & my feet's pull me towards the forest & Kanha is one of those places which you can visit every day of year & yet it wont stop surprising you on every day. Such is the canvas of forest over there. Not just the animal sighting but the exposure to such vast form of nature make you introvert & you start looking at yourself from new dimension. Provided you are open enough to the nature! Many things you start seeing, feeling & understanding which you haven't noticed earlier though they may be happening right under your nose! Come winter & the entire forest gets a different fresh look at Kanha,sight of which makes you forget the chilling cold! The Barsingas ( type of dear) with pink & velvet luster horns & birds flaunting their exotic colors & wild flowers & butterflies all over & even the spiders joining the party!

The entire display makes you awe about the verity nature can offer & how limited our exposure to the same is. The forest is alive with activities all around &you regret that you can be at one place only at one time & miss so many things! Like at night a look at sky & you feel like you are on different planet! Such is the scene in the sky as the sky is full of stars free from city lights disturbance as well no smoke emitting from the vehicles or industries. The air is cool but so pure that our lungs are not used to it & its carrying nice fragrance of the vegetation around. Then I realize how I was missing all these in city life! The morning ride to forest starts at 6 am in morning when you can see the moon still shining in clear sky & if you are real forest lover then to be as first entrant you need to be at in queue at gate before 5.30am. So you have to wake up by 4.30 am have a cup of nice hot tea with morning breeze & then you realize  tat to give you the morning tea at this hour some one has to wake up by 3.30am & they are the local boys serving in your hotel. Just have a look at what they wear in such cold winter mornings & you will be ashamed of your full fledged winter attire!  Also think about the forest guards who are patrolling this vast expand all over the year in extreme  weather where temperature can vary from - 5 degree to 45 degrees! These thoughts never entered in our minds in our commercial world where we think everything is business!


Earlier Kanha entry was some 700/- per trip & cameras were charged extra,now they have made it 1700/- per trip per vehicle & then you think how many people can afford this! As two rounds including the Gypsy tariff can cost you nearly 8000/-! Stay & food charges to add on over this! Now imagine what even 3 day trip can cost you! Here I realized how lucky I am that I get a chance to experience this nature's treasure so often! And then think how many around us can have the exposure of the forest & what we are doing about it? Rather govt should seriously think about making the forests open at reasonable costs to every one as per their affordability. Especially to the school kids of rural as well urban poor as from this class some day forest protectors are going to be rise! Unfortunately no one is trying on this front.


I had got a new lense  for my camera & was eager to shoot the jungle moments but I have forgot that just buying a good camera doesn't make you a good photographer & when I review the results of some snaps in display I got upset. And then I realize I was forgetting the joy of experiencing the forest moments in zest of taking photographs! In our daily life also we make such mistakes, forget the joy in enjoying the moments  of small thing around & worry about things which are not in our control! No doubt capturing the wild life in camera is best hobby but if you are missing to enjoy the forest in this process then something is going wrong! A lot is happening around us in forest & not every moment can be captured through any man made lence,this I learned in forest. We were obviously looking for sighting of tiger & out of our eight rounds we couldn't see any in first seven rounds! But then there was so much to watch & feel which other wise we would have lost in tiger chase. Sound of birds, drongo mimicking other birds or group of parakits playing in sun light on top of a dry tree or the rising sun shading the sky in all shades of red & orange, so many things are happening around. A jungle is never dead ,its full of activities. In the silence also many things are happening like a spider waiting for insect getting caught in its web or an eagle waiting over a branch of tree for the prey without even flickering of his feathers. You redefine the definition of silence in forest &  it teaches you to be patient for right time. This is the biggest thing we can learn from forest as there  nothing is before or ahead of time, everything has its right timing & one has to know his right time! One has to wait patiently in silence & let the director Nature unfold the script in front of you, is the best way to watch the jungle. And yet when I saw a tigress coming out of thickset foliage & walk like a professional model walking on ramp , for a moment I forgot to click the snaps! Such is the impact of watching a tiger in open forest. Even to watch the faces of tourists who are lucky enough to share this scene is also a treat!


Forest is a form of nature & as the wise men have said no better teacher than nature for the one who wants to learn. each time I enter in forest like a school boy who is ignorant about the future & get out with bag full of new things. Also the knowledge about such places is to be made more public as right now its restricted to just a fraction of society & that's not going to make people aware about the importance of forests. Rather places like Kanha should be declared as World heritage sites! And for that every one has to take efforts on their respective fronts. Though by just declaring World heritage site isn't going to make difference . Its our attitude towards forests needs to be changed & given them the importance they deserve as then only our future can be with shade of green!

Here are some of the moments...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627981139310/




--
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/65629150@N06/sets/72157627981139310/

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

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Friday, October 14, 2011

Our City, Our Devlopment Plan!





“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.

Well well that goes for the ideal city as by the great planner Rebecca Solnit but when we think about our beloved city has this multidimensional thought been put in planning? In news paper now the term DP i.e. development plan is so many times covered that even a 5 year old who has just started reading to an old man who has on the verge of stopping reading must know the term DP! But how many of them have really understood the term or the reason behind it? For any city the term DP is very much important as its going to decide the future of the very city. Now many a will say what's big deal, has not our Pune city prospered without any such thing & even if there isn't any DP, are the Industries like IT or automobile going to stop coming here? Well the answer is a big YES! They may not stop immediately but without a proper plan of the development of the city the city will refuse to take any additional load & will burst because of the load on the infrastructure like Drainage, Water & road! Many of the things we are already witnessing like numbers of vehicles on the roads. however big road you build if we cant plan a proper public transport system & arrange the city growth in planned manner, the road wont be ever enough for the private vehicles! This is result of not having proper DP or not implementing the same in time.
A Development plan is like a mirror showing future of the city & here you can not blame just one organization like PMC as a DP is multidimensional thing. It covers every segment of the society & it’s expected to contribute. Here I will give you a simple example, few years’ back PMC has announced Rain water harvesting policy to incorporate the same in DP & called for Public suggestions. Can you imagine just one has come & that to of Credai i.e. then PBAP, an association of Pune's builders! This speaks the ignorance of the common people about the subject which is so important of every citizen’s life & then we blame each other for poor life style the city offers! I don't blame for this ignorance to the common citizen as the subject has been never made aware about to them! Here is the failure of the system as its prime job is to make ascertain than the process of making DP goes more & more open & with participation of as many citizens as it can be. Sure on brighter side many NGO's are aware & we have seen the result on the subject of hills & BDP reservations & so is about the public transport but does the DP means just Hills, roads, drainage & water?

Here lies the crux; a city as mentioned in the quote has so many dimensions by virtue of which it’s decided as whether it’s a good city or bad & on its job of every citizen to understand where we are on those standards & not just few points. When we say Pune is growing & next IT hub or education capitol of the country then it has to be reflected on every front of the city then we can really be proud of ourselves.

Along with the greenery & safety the city offers there are very fine infrastructural thing which are a must to make a city a good one to live in. And all such things has to be thought of while planning DP & then to execute the same. Few such we will be discussing here & do mind its not just Pune, when ever any town, city, metro is being planned these are a must subjects. Let’s consider basic five thing apart from the main issues like road network or water or hills & they are  Private bus stops, Garbage bean, Public Toilets, Information centers, & seasonal centers like Phataka shops or even Ganpati or festive pendols!

The city has long back tradition of having private buses for industries carrying the workers to the work place from home. Telco, Bajaj were pioneers in the same & with number of call centers to IT industry to school buses now it’s a parallel public transport system operating private basis. But we don't have any fixed stops or pick up stations for the same. The result is these buses stops randomly anywhere in mid road causing traffic problems. Parking of the same is also an issue. The DP should take cognizance & their importance too & accommodate them.

Then comes the Garbage beans, we all are part of generating garbage in some form but no one wants a garbage bean in their premise. The reason is obvious, it’s the way they are maintained & result is most of the garbage beans are right on roads or blocking the footpaths. This scene we have been seeing now for many years & its a strong need to identify  proper locations for the garbage beans & install a system to see that they don't become a nuisance but serve the purpose for what they have been installed. We can design them in a proper way for this, learning from the mistakes in past.

Public toilets not only for women but even for men are in horrible situation. No sane man will use the facility in this category unless its extreme need & that's failure of the purpose. People don't want them in their vicinity because of the faulty design & the poor maintenance. We should try to think out of the box here. In Dubai the building rules makes it mandatory for every commercial establishment like restaurants or shops to have a toilet facility however small the establishment may be & its open for use to all. This saves the space as well maintenance of making public toilets. Agreed with the kind of population it’s impossible but for the population over 40 millions if we check the numbers of public toilets, it’s sickening & that’s an important aspect of good civic infrastructure the city should offer to its citizens.

When ever you go to places like Singapore you can’t miss the colorful, clean & warm information centers at regular intervals giving every information a tourist or even a citizen will need about the city & services it offers. Recently there have been kiosks of such centers installed on some of the main roads by local authority but it failed on two fronts, one is their very less numbers & other is the kind of service it offers to the visitors. Mostly its poor staffed or equipped & it don't have the information which an outsider or visitor will need. There has to be Internet & all information about important places in city along with a good display of road maps at sale also we can have toilet facility with drinking water fountain here. The DP should make provisions for such centers all around the city.

Pune is very much social & cultural city & that's the back bone of this very city! And its this front which keeps the city buzzing with public activities around the year may it be Ganesh festival or Ramzan or Durga puja, or Vari of Pandharpore in Shravan,all the festivals come along with many social & cultural activities. Come Ganpati & debate starts about the pendols & their nuisance to the road users. Similar is about fire crackers stalls in Diwali which starts occupying  foot paths & roads right from Dasara. Now with years of experience we know the type of such temporary structures & the timing of them so why can’t we try to accommodate them at a permanent location for ever so it will ease out the yearly routine & trouble of all for fixing their positions? Like each year fire crackers shops are installed right of 100' river side road near Mhatre bridge, its not only make the traveling along that road troublesome but its by safety norms also is not advisable to have such hazardous material to be sold in open place like a road!

So many small issues which when collectively placed become a disaster & here is where planning plays vital role i.e. to identify the smaller issues in advance & not allowing them to for a collective effect. As then only our future can be happy & healthy. As the city is growing so is population & so will the problems but that's why DP is so much important for not only the city but for ever citizen of the city & that's why we should try to stand up & express & share our views about the same. Then only we can be proud of being an ideal citizen & can have pride about our 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/72157626002106936/

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

http://www.punecorporation.org/GRS/Complaint/LaunchComplaintCitizen.aspx

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com