Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Road Show & The City !








“All great roads are paved with uncomfortable memories.” ...Amy Neftzger

Reading this quote from the great American author& researcher I felt that in this context each road in our dear city is a great road! It’s after nearly four or five years the city has been hit by heavy rains & first victim are the roads of the city. As usual all the news papers are full of running stories about the conditions of the roads & experts comments are being taken; every political party is trying to show their annoyance against the road conditions by various ways of protests. Even the local radio stations are running worst Pothole contest & what not! Entire city has just one subject on mind & that is road conditions & problems it’s creating for the common citizen!
No doubt it is serious issue as not only it causes accidents but the loss of time delays due to traffic slow down is tremendous. Also the stress generated amongst the commuters due to travelling on such roads, we have to account for that. The poor road conditions cause fourfold damage, first is the vehicular damage causing loss of property. Second is human damage causing loss of life or physical damage involving medical expenses & time wastage due to the same. Third is increase in stress level of the road users as in busy schedule each one has to reach his/ hers destination in time & bad road conditions slows down the traffic & the frustration we see in the way driving goes on the roads, continuous honking of horns, street quarrels’ because of overtaking of vehicles in wrong way are few of the reflections of this increased stress level. And fourth is money involved in redoing these damaged roads, which actually is public money.

According to some news agency the road length of Pune city is nearly 600 km, though this must be only featuring main roads & not the smaller, connecting roads. And surprisingly except few major roads like JM road nearly all the roads have been in damaged state. And it’s not only local body which in our case is PMC but even the roads surrounding the city villages which now are indirectly suburbs of the city also are in bad conditions. Even the highways crisscrossing through the city & their bypasses are not exception for bad road conditions. Here I really admire the synchronization of various Govt agencies which are supposed to keep the roads in good conditions. It seems that no where comparison should be done by the media or common man so at a time all roads are damaged due to rains, at least here the consistency is significant! Take any connection road to Pune city or the service roads of highways or the village roads out of PMC, every road has huge pot holes & the condition is unusable.
Answers given by various authorities for such road conditions are funny to hilarious some time pathetic, “such as, there aren’t enough storm water drains, we usually undertook road repairs during May end to mid June & rains arrived earlier”! As a common citizen I always get haunted by the question why every year we need to have road repairs in itself, even before monsoon? It’s high time to study the problem in depth & act once for all as every time it has rained heavily we have faced havoc on roads, so question is how many years the citizen who are loyal tax payers too, have to face this situation & why?
For that lets analyze the present situation of the city public bodies who are supposed to keep the roads in good condition. We have there ruling bodies i.e. PMC, PCMC & Collectorate which operates via Public Work Department & then we have High way authority for maintaining highways which passes through the city. Let’s focus on PMC i.e. for our Pune city roads. Here also there is JNNURM under which major roads like Sinhgad road, Solapur road, Baner road & Nagar roads are being done & then we have a road department which is responsible for all other roads. 

A road is road is one of the very basic structure in language of civil engineering & that too on a plain surface like the city it should not required great engineering knowledge or skill to build them is the situation for most of the road sites around. Then what go wrong that we witness damaged road all around? Is it that difficult to build a god road which will last for at least ten years of something like that? Well “No” is the answer will be given by any junior engineer, as all we need is some basic planning & proper supervision with open eyes & mind.  

First & foremost follow the standard road section which must be available with every road department & stick to that only. As we have seen many of our roads are of tar/bitumen ( Dambar) & water is enemy of the bitumen. So if we make proper draining arrangements which is the first & most primary need of any road design then most of our problems of roads getting damaged will be taken care. And for that we need not require all the time expensive underground net work of storm water drains but a bit proper planning with study of the surrounding from where the road is being passed. Pune is mostly hill surrounded & as we have two rivers passing through the city maximum slopes are towards these two rivers. Also we have hundreds of streams/ nallahs flowing towards these rivers. All we have to check is give proper slopes to the road center so the water will flow to the edges & then carry it to the first nallah or stream & discharge the same in it. This may not be possible in all cases but most of the cases it can be done with a proper study of contours around the road & this should be done before starting the road work.

Another important aspect is making the proper sub grade which is very basic level thing. Most of the time it has been observed that because the base work of the road is poorly done , after the vehicular load starts the roads have been damaged under it so the sub grade sinks due to this load. This leads to accumulate rain water at such spots & finally forming pot holes. Here I wonder what kind of supervision our all elected members have as when they can be so keen on protesting after the damage what they are doing when the things are being actually executed? Agreed the engineers are at fault & so as contractors but if some work is going in a ward, isn’t the concerned ward member should be aware about the proper inspection & certification of such work? Residents in the locality are also equally at blame as they should ask questions to the concerned officers, unfortunately we always woke up after fire is the truth.

Then comes the road digging for n numbers of reasons like cable of electricity, telephone lines, gas pipe lines, water lines & the list is on. Even while constructing small connecting roads this basic infrastructural aspect we neglect that keep the ducts or space for laying such services in future. And PMC charges heftily i.e. Rs 4000/r.m for any road digging which is way above any road making charges. Problem is road get dug, payment get done but the purpose for which payment is made remains as it is. To my individual observation 99% of the time the digging portion is very poorly redone & here is the main cause of the damage of the road. As this remade portion either sunk due to improper making or bad surface finish & in the end its this portion which obstructs water draining of the roads eventually starting the road damage like a cancer. First of all make a road which won’t require to be dug & if at all it’s required then see that there has to be a standard practice to redo the dug portion & it has to be followed strictly. Things like speed breakers also obstruct the rain water flow & in a way helps in accumulating it at places which again is a cause for road surface damage. Here while certifying the redone road work of dug portion the concerned officer should take in account opinion of local residents in surrounding area about the quality of work done, as ultimately they are the best judge of the road in their area!

It’s so saddening that on one hand we are comparing Pune with top cities in world on account of knowledge & industries & education & on other hand we are repeatedly failing to provide the city very basic thing like roads. Here I will blame a bit to the common citizen also, who when buy something & if don’t get service then criticize the service provider. On that front Punekar’s are most aware customers, then why not get united & ask their right of good roads to the concerned authority. Rather if we are tax payer then we should access to tribunals like “ Grahak Panchyat or Consumer Courts” as we are customer of local bodies & if they are failing to serve us properly then they should be asked  to do so! Here again we keep silent till the problem don’t get aggravated & then when we become sufferer it’s too late.

Role of media is also always reactive; they should chase this issue throughout the year & not just in rainy season. As no news paper or media was asking the question why the local body hasn’t started road repairs in April itself, why it’s required to wait till May when monsoon is due in first week of June? Also what kinds of road repairs were supposed to be done? Just resurfacing the roads with tar isn’t going to solve the problem. A permemnanat solution is supposed to work out & for that what action plan local body is having? Why these questions are not asked in winters or summers so as we don’t have to face the same punishment in every rains?

Here every segment of society even the builders’ association has to be proactive as a city is good for residing only if the infrastructure of the city is good & roads are face of any city. On one hand we are already very poor on public transport & more & more citizen have to go for private vehicles for their daily commuting. And if we won’t be providing even the good roads for their journey then what right we have to call our self as an ideal city? And this is job of every individual who call himself Punekar. The condition is same all around the State, in ever town or city roads are in tatters making life of millions miserable & unsafe. And it’s now up to us only whether to make our journey on them with good memories or bad!
--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

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, July 18, 2013

Power of Infromation & Real Estate!






Information is the oxygen of the modern age. It seeps through the walls topped by barbed wire, it wafts across the electrified borders....Ronald Reagan

The Ex American president couldn’t have been more precise in describing the new age's mantra i.e. Information! Yet when it comes to real estate we are still in ice age is what I think & the information seems to be restricted to individual possession & can’t penetrate the walls of certain offices, may it be developers or Govt agencies! As still so many things a buyer don’t about product & need to be dependent on whatever has been feed by the developer or the agents about the product. When we call the term transparency what it means actually? In simple words it’s all information about the product & the way it’s been delivered as well the entire dealing process, so again we are refereeing information here. Always the builders or the people associated with real estate have been looked with suspicious mind by the customers or common man. That’s understandable because we fear about the things of which we don’t have knowledge. And as there isn’t any data or information available people tend to fear or be doubtful about the entire industry & that's one of the main reason this industry despite all its better side has repeatedly failed to gain confidence of its own customers!

Earlier days were different as I still remember efforts required to send the basic info like site progress to the customers who has booked flat with us as to photograph the site  progress periodically & then to develop the print & then send the same to individual customer by post we a tedious procedure. But look at now with mobile camera & 3G net work you can send the onsite photographs to every customer within a minute! Same is with many things right from the plans to changes you can offer to specifications as well your completed projects photographs & more recently Google images of site giving clear idea of surroundings information is unending thing & the more you give the more it will make your customer comfortable. Imagine a person sitting in USA can actually see his ongoing site works if proper links are made available to him! Web sites have also gone a sea change & now you can have interactive web sites & online booking type things for flat also. Though like other commodities a home will never be booked & should not be without having an actual site visit, yet at least 90% of ground work can be done if proper information is made available to the customer. Problem is despite all these means of information sending yet the builders are not keen on sharing the information with their customers nor the customers seems to demand it. As any information about the project is basic right of the customer but unfortunately in real estate many a people forget about their right & then keep blaming to the system for the foul play.  

And joke is no one has the very basic information like how much legitimate developers are in Pune & compiled data of their completed / ongoing projects. Not even Govt agencies who are supposed to sanction the plans of these developers have such data system & posses details of the promoters of the companies developing the projects!

When it comes to developers side of table scene isn’t any different, with the help of various search engines as well on line trading sites we can get the best price for a latest gadget like Nikon Camera in a minute but if asked which shop in the city has lowest price for a 43 Grade cement of a particular company, then there is no such data available. Why cement the industry lack on most of its front when data base or information sharing is the subject. There isn’t even list of all the suppliers with their inventory of material stock available & often when the quantity in bulk is required such as floor tiles then the purchase managers of various construction houses has to run all around the market in search of the same. There isn’t any portal giving information of various material suppliers or production houses & making on line booking possible for the developers nor any such effort is being done by the apex bodies of the developers. Imagine the manual hours wasted by each construction house in search of material procurement & then you will realize how backward the industry is!

Well needless to say when such is the scene on material front what will it be when it comes to labor front or manual work force information available in the industry! Ninety percent of the labor contractors are not listed at all & to my knowledge there are no fixed or a standard rate list for any of the agencies working in various segments of the industry. No one knows what or how a mason or a fitter or a carpenter should be paid & its standard work out put in a day! No where any documentation is there about work output by an individual labor or a skilled worker by virtue of which his daily wages can be decided. The whole industry runs on thumb rules & which varies from not only just city to city but company to company! Neither there is any data available for identifying the various labor contractors’ establishments & their labor strengths; anybody with few labors under his belt can become a “thekedar” (labor contractor) of anything here & can get the work!

If this is the scene for basic ingredients for the industry then on demand supply front also the scene isn’t different. No one but only the God can know the exact demand of the houses in this country & the type of the them i.e. what kind of houses we need & where? We don’t have even a collective record city/ town wise how many homes are being build each year & if we have no one knows where it is? If we don’t know the very basic thing like exact demand of homes city wise then how we are going to fulfill the same & how we are going to make policies for the same is a big question? And obviously our infrastructure planning goes haywire only because of not knowing answers to these questions. Here concerned Govt departments are at equal fault as they don’t have centralized data collection system as even in PMC the tax department is unknown that how much buildings have been given occupation certificate by the building department. Or water supply department don’t know how many users have been increased in a year or how many new users will be there in next year so as to be ready for the same! This is the scenario about information at Municipal Corporations of big cities, what must be happening to Zillah Parishads & Nagar Parishads of towns & districts one can’t even think of!

After looking at all the overall situation about information in real estate no wonder we have been failure on controlling the prices of homes as we don’t know what to control! As for solving any problem one must know the spread as well volume of the same & here we are missing that basic link. As very primary ting like land use & policies regarding the same we won’t be able to decide unless we don’t the how much exact homes we need & where & in how much time? It makes all projections right from how much material like cement or steel we will need countrywide in a year & then how we are going to decide their rate policy or anything related to that?

It’s high time like Automobile Manufacturers Association has got a high level & to the point of data base for all its members nationwide of every necessary thing for the production houses, the construction industry should also start working on this aspect. As we keep on reading in news papers about sale figures of every segment of automobiles all around the country month wise & the industry bosses monitors these figures very closely, as it’s these figures which decides the employment index in that particular industry & the trends for future. And it’s this information or data helps individual business house to plan their policy may it be marketing or production. And now when we have every modern gadget as well technology available; the need is of our willpower & attitude to understand the importance of information or else we only will be the losers at end for our own negligence regarding the power of information!


Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

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

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

World Population Day & Real Estate!







Rapid population growth and technological innovation, combined with our lack of understanding about how the natural systems of which we are a part work, have created a mess...David Suzuki



World Population Day
is an annual event, observed on July 11 every year, which seeks to raise awareness of global population issues. The event was established by the Governing Council of the United Nations Development Program in 1989. It was inspired by the public interest in Five Billion Day on July 11, 1987, approximately the date on which the world's population reached five billion people. And now nearly 23 years down the line the world population is over 7billion i.e. 700crores! Just look at the speed with which it’s growing. That’s why words from the great Canadian academic who is an environmental activist does matters so much today. For many years people were not understanding importance of the population factor in environmental issues but the main threat to the environment is no one else but human being & the rate with which its population is increasing!
 
We as a country may be proud leader on many fronts in the world may it be  IT or Auto Segment but sure this one front we shouldn’t be proud of leading the world & that is population growth. It’s said that by 2030 we will overtake even China in population as we are already at over 1 billion i.e. one seventh of population is ours. Many will say where this topic is going & what’s it has to do with real estate or environment of our country? Well most of the time in our country when it’s finding a solution we end up short sighted at some short term solution or miss the aim at problem itself completely! And in this particular case common man is ignorant & our rulers are missing the target deliberately taking advantage of common mans ignorance. Problems at present looming over our country may be multifold like lack of proper shelter to the millions of citizens of this country; those who have homes are not having basic proper infrastructure like water, drainage, power, then migration of thousand to the Metros from rural & all this indirectly making impact on environment!

Again many will say what’s new in this? Have we not witnessing this from many years? And isn’t the large population is boon in some way for our economy? Well, we are witnessing it but at the same time are we not witnessing the ill effects of this migrating ever increasing population? More & more people are migrating to the cities because the continuous increasing population doesn’t get enough jobs for their daily survival in the villages. Agriculture lands are fast getting surrendered to non agriculture purposes & not only area under cultivation even those under forests ,hills, water bodies are also being encroached for different uses which are mainly to accommodate the population & its needs. On one side this migrating population is boon for real estate as more people coming to the Metros means more demand for homes & which industry won’t like needy customers for their product? But have we thought of byproducts of this demand? The very basic problem starts from the raw material for the homes & that is land; and we can’t create land is worldwide truth. It’s for the lands wars have been fought & with all countries equipped with nuclear weapons no one can afford a war. So use as much as land we have got for building homes is the answer & in that zest we are literally killing other all species may it be common sparrow or a endangered specie like Great Indian Bustard (Maldhok), everybody is under threat getting victim of our race for building more homes. No fault there too as we are after all prioritizing the needs of human, whose claims come first, is what we only have decided!

Well even if the housing is taken care but a home isn’t build out of thin air, it needs materials like sand, metal, steel, cement, tiles & many more which is made of mostly natural resources so again deterioration of nature to explore these materials. Obviously then comes more factories to fulfill these demands of various materials. Once these homes get competed then the occupants needs things like water, power then vehicles for their commuting which in turn needs fuel & then comes byproducts of our own living in form of garbage & drainage, the list is ongoing.

Crux of all the problems is ever growing population & we all including our leaders are ignoring the same conveniently. No election party has on their agenda this vital issue which is main cause of making our every environment conservation policy goes for toss & sky rocketing prices of homes. We have a law for candidates contesting for election will be eligible only if they have less than two child but we don’t have any law for getting a job in private or govt regarding the same. Neither once get elected any leader has any interest in the cause; rather I feel the politicians sees their potential voters in the new born population & encourage their voters for same!

Joke apart, under the name of society’s sentiments or sometimes even religion, issue of population control & taking stringent steps for the same has been always side tracked is a fact. And result is today on one hand we have got immense demand for homes yet we are unable to provide the same to the needy ones. In one survey it’s mentioned that over 60% of population of Mumbai lives in slums i.e. illegal housing. The percentage may be much less in two tier cities like Pune but sure it will catch up soon. As day by day very high demand for homes is making land as most scarce commodity in not only just Metros but even smaller towns. And the same time we can’t ignore the demand of this population on food front so there has to be a balance between land under residence, agriculture & forests!

I think this is the main challenge in front of any Govt & again we have been repeatedly failed to draw a perfect policy for all three fronts of the life. And just because we don’t have any policy or norm regarding population control in place all these three fronts are getting suffered heavily. On one hand millions of human beings are being forced to live in illegal homes in form of slums with no basic infrastructure, at the same time on other hand thousands of other species are becoming homeless due to loss of habitats & reason is encroachment by us on their homes. Friends it’s high time to act combine against this monster of population growth rate which is worse than the tendency of corruption & if we can stop it in time then only there is some hope for our country or else as Mr.Suzuki has warned, we won’t need any other world war but our own population will be our route to self destruction.

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2013/01/identifying-good-builder.html


Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157628805700569/

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