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Friday, October 22, 2010

Diverse problem

The map of newly merged villages and the Development Plan (DP) is becoming more and more complicated by the day. Since Pune Municipal Corporation announced the area of hill slopes and hill tops of 23 merged villages as a Bio Diversity Park, genuine plot holders have been in a quandary.

Even though BDP reservation sounds sweet to environmentalists, it spells burden for some people and their voices are not being heard. Manvendra vartak, 70 year old retired employee of a Sugar mill is feeling total loss when he came to know that he can't built his dream house on his small piece of land that he had bought 28 years ago. He has been filing application for the permission to build his dream house at the plot situated near Chandani Chowk. But his applications were turned down repeatedly by the building permission department.

Vartak is not an isolated case. Along with Vartak, almost 105 people had bought the plots at the land. They proposed to form a co-oprative housing society. Design of the bungalow scheme was ready on paper, but couldn't come into reality. The reason: the proposed Biodiversity park on the hills.

Vartak said, " The idea of making biodiversity park is fine, We are not against the environment. We are against the government policy to apply different yardsticks for the constructions already completed earlier in the BDP zone and ones newly coming up. PMC had given the permission to these constructions which were completed earlier without permission as committed development. Then how they can deny permission to us. Some big shots have developed their plot on the proposed BDP zone, and regularised later as committed development. We can't develop it because we didn't have money. Is it our fault," Vartak asked.

The case of P B Kulkarni, 76 years, former chairman of Pune Vidyarthi Gruha, is not different. He bought a plot at Dhankawadi (survey no 29/1/2/4/5/plot no 8) in 1981, but he has not been able to build anything on it as yet. Now, he wants to construct a property on it, but the PMC won’t allow him to do so because of the BDP reservation.

Kulkarni said that he bought this plot to build a house and the collector had even sanctioned the layouts. But the next thing he knew was that PMC had put reservation on his plot and some of the surrounding land. Kulkarni added that he had first filed an objection on May 20, 2005.

He has given many such applications to the PMC and the state government, but he has not been allowed to build on his plot.

He said, “There is a huge construction around his plot, but PMC has raised an objection only against me. My plot exists among a fully-constructed area and there is no sign of a hill nearby, but PMC insists that it comes under BDP, which means it is a hill slope.

Four years ago, the PMC had reserved a BDP to help restore local flora and fauna, create carbon sinks and to bring about an awareness about conservation of nature. But even after all this time, there has been no concrete decision made by officials about the existing constructions.

Sudir Kulkarni, social activist, said that they are conducting a survey of the many such affected people. He added that PMC officials and leaders will have to rethink the issue. The state government should do a proper survey on the actual site. PMC officials said that the concerned plot is in Dhankawadi, which has come to be counted inside city limits only after 1995.

The PMC has sent the Development Plan of 23 new villages to the state government, which will then decide about the BDP and all concerned reservations.

Ray of hope

A proposal for setting up bio-diversity parks (BDP) in Pune may be scrapped because the state government is not favourably disposed to the concept. An indication to this effect was given by the principal secretary for urban development, TC Benjamin recently

"Two different rules cannot be framed for the same city. The matter came up when coporators Dilip Barate and Ujwal Keskar raised the question of the long-pending development plan (DP) for the 23 fringe villages that were merged with PMC. The DP - prepared in 2005 and known as the 'Green DP' - primarily aims at the development of the 23 fringe villages which became a part of the PMC in 1997 . Benjamin recently Said later that approval for the DP was held up because of the BDP proposal. "Two different rules cannot be framed for the same city. You cannot have the hill-top, hill-slope rule in Pune with 0.4 FSI (floor space index) and absolutely no development allowed in the 23 merged villages," he said.

The PMC passed the 'Green DP' proposal and decided to reserve nearly 18,000 acres of land for BDPs. It had resolved not to give TDR (transfer of development rights) and instead acquire the land by paying compensation to land-owners. It would have meant that the PMC make a provision of Rs 3,000 crore to acquire the land.

"It is difficult to raise such an amount for land acquisition. Also, there already are constructions in the proposed BDP zone. The state government will have to consider all these factors before deciding on the DP," Benjamin added.

If the BDP proposal is scrapped, it would pave the way for the government to permit construction on the hills with FSI of between 4 and .

But Greens have objections

City-based activists have slammed principal secretary of state urban development department, TC Benjamin, for expressing doubts about the feasibility of a biodiversity park (BDP) in the 23 merged villages in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) area.

Benjamin had told local media persons in the city last week that the civic body could not afford the estimated cost of Rs 3,000 Crores to buy the green spaces earmarked for the BDP. He had also said that there could not be two rules for green spaces in the same city. The hill slope-hill top (HSHT) rule in the city, allowing 0.04 % floor space index (FSI), and the BDP reservation for the merged villages, offering no such incentive.

According to green activist, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) city president and member of Legislative Council, Vandana Chavan, “PMC had passed a 'green development plan' based on the strength of 90,000 signatures contributed by Puneites. If the state government has a change of heart on the matter, they would end up dishonouring the mandate of the PMC and close to one lakh citizens of Pune."

According to Chavan, section 22A of the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning (MRTP) Act stated that even a 10% modification in the proposed BDP could not be carried out by the state government without the consent of the people. This would mean that the matter would have to come back to the people of Pune for their objections and suggestions. This time around, there could be 2,00,000 signatures supporting the proposal.

She said that the PMC had failed miserably in suggesting a financial model for the BDP. "This is not difficult. The PMC can always offer transfer of development rights (TDR) to the owners of the green spaces, where specific FSI could be offered in specific villages - Hinjewadi for instance," Chavan said.

Town planner Aneeta Benninger said, "Benjamin has made an absolutely irresponsible statement. Basic town planning theory recommends that one-third of every geographical area must be earmarked for forests and green spaces. By this token, Pune needs close to 37,000 acres of green space. However, only about 12,000 acres is presently available. This is why the green spaces in the 23 merged villages of Pune hold significance."

According to Benninger, the reservation of the BDP area in the 23 merged villages would act as an antidote to the high levels of pollution being generated in the city. Benninger recommended that the PMC generate funds for the proposed BDP by charging citizens a one-time levy of Rs 365 per annum (Re 1 per day) and issue 'clean air shares' in return. "The PMC could also sell carbon credits generated from the protection of 4,069 acres of green spaces available in the BDP zone," Benninger added.

The PMC passed the 'Green DP' proposal and decided to reserve nearly 18,000 acres of land for BDPs. It had resolved not to give TDR (transfer of development rights) and instead acquire the land by paying compensation to land-owners. It would have meant that the PMC make a provision of Rs 3,000 Crores to acquire the land.


  1. I am now 62 and purchasd this plot in 1982 by taking loan to build my dream Gharkul for retired life. Majority plot holders were from Mumbai and we checked zonel cerificate of as partly residential, partly agricultural and highway reservation in some part as expected. There was no mention of Hill top Hill slope remark on any of our 105 free hold plots' 7/12 records. All this started after 1992 & when we were merged in Pune city limits we were more than happy without least idea that we are thrown into fire and going to be punished for growing trees on our barrn plots by spending sweat, blood and money for next 20 yrs. Now I am enjoying peaceful life in my cottagge and will fight this unjust illogical resrvation of BDP unto death.

  2. Before the BDP i buy the land with house which is granted by 'Gunthewari' and plan was sanctioned by PMC. Since the building was very old and dangerous I reconstructed. Since now the reservation of BDP is there and can not develop further on my land. We strongly oppose the BDP and government should check onsite and take a decision soon.


  3. Dear Sunil I don't know your area. But same thing has happened in case of Capt. Gorakshakar of Bavdhan . PMC is very adamant. So we have to collectively fight this unjust reservation. In 99 Kothrud we have many cases that that inspite of knowing the truth, lawers & agents have collected rs. 5000plus for doing Gunthewari & PMC also collected deposites rs.1000 plus for more than 10 yrs.& now PMC tells them that as per rule 7 Gunthewari is not possible for HTHS area. This rule was there from the begining.But still PMC collected deposite to help lawers & agents to earn money. If you are having sanctioned plan then your coming under COMMITED DEVELOPEMENT.Same is the case of Nataraj society Hingane or Parvati, where the society is partly in NON BDP area. There are plenty of cases like this and we are collecting the details. Please send same. We have to fightout this issue collectively. Pls be in touch. Thanks.

    1. Hello Mr. Vartak.

      I found your article while surfing, actually i am also a victim of this so called Proposed BDP, i have also been following up for this but no results yet, You can refer the Pune Mirror dated 7-April-209. Below is the link for same.

      Kindly let me know if you all having a common group to fight against this common problem