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Monday, October 22, 2012

Burning issue: Merging of adjoining new villages in PMC: Expert blog

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell...Edward Abbey.

Well this quote from the great author perfectly fits for our subject i.e. merging of adjoining new villages in Municipal Corporation. We should remember the basic objective of expanding the city limits or else it will be just on paper & not towards what we want to achieve out of it. What we should be looking for is a monolithic growth covering all features of development of this very city but in actual look what we are doing? More than ten years have been passed by de-merging 8 villages & merging 15 villages in PMC & we are yet unable to approve final Development plan of the city & major issues like TDR these area which are very important for acquiring the lands for various reservations haven’t yet decided up on. Why TDR even we have not taken any firm stand of burning issue of Hill Top Hill Slope under which more than 10% of the newly acquired villages area is coming!

Being an engineer by myself as well having a little bit exposure for urban planning I haven’t yet understood why we made two development plans for one city? I.e. for old limits separate DP & for newly acquired villages separate DP! Has such thing been done any where i.e. wit any other city, have we checked it with senior urban planners? Why one city couldn’t have one DP? Will it not be more easier to plan a city in whole than in pieces & then to link them? And why it’s taking so long for us to get our DP sanctioned & come in working? All these things shows our rulers attitude towards the issue of city development. And these things do come to even common man's mind also but seems to get skipped by our rulers!

And on this back ground we are going ahead for expanding our city further by acquiring nearly 10 more villages. Going with the present logic of planning, shall we expect a third DP for these villages? Which sure will be a gunnies book record i.e. making three development plan for one city! And if we are taking ten years for just getting one DP sanctioned of newly merged villages which are with us & even elections being conducted for the same & they have representives from them on PMC, yet no one demands the DP for their area, what all this indicates? Look at the areas which are there now with PMC since ten years, even the most accessible & sought after suburbs like Baner & Balewadi, basic facilities like drainage, water & road network isn’t been there yet to even 50% of the area! And when some proposal is made to get the road net work done there is a shout that it’s for developers benefit! Well, where ever a building is being build & sold there is developers benefit but then where should the citizens of this city will live if not in buildings? The infrastructure in whatever form it comes should be welcomed as every citizen of this city deserves good roads , water supply, drainage & electricity as his basic right. And even a single building has been build in any of the suburb, we have to give them proper infrastructure like other citizen in main city are having as they too are paying property tax like all other people does. And in fact acquiring land for roads is first & foremost important thing in any urban planning as along the roads only other services can be planned as well we can go to the lands which have been reserved for different purposes. Simple thing like proper tree plantation along the roads should be done as early as possible as then only the trees we have planted now will be in position to absorb the polluted gases when the traffic on these roads will increase in future! Actually we should learn from countries like USA where roads are build first & then the buildings follows. Leave apart the cultural infrastructure like play ground & hospitals which are always neglected here in our urban planning which comes last. All this because we have taken the villages in PMC just for the sake of growth & not for development is what one can conclude if going by our actions.

Recently there was a news about a court case by the residents of a complex against the developer for supplying the water for a project which is in PMC limits. The court gave a verdict against the developer saying it’s his responsibility as at the time of plan sanctioning he has submitted an undertaking in PMC that it will be his responsibility to provide the water at his cost to the residents if PMC fails to do so! Well it’s good to save their own skin but when PMC accepts all the money paid in form of various premiums which is supposed for the development of infrastructure & approves the plans then is not their primary responsibility to provide water & drainage like facilities! Taking such undertaking & passing the plans is a sign of sheer monopoly ruling system & just as they are the only governing authority they are making rules on one way & getting benefitted both ways without any responsibility. If the residents are living their & using the water why shall not they only pay for the same, was PMC supposed to supply them water at free of cost? Why PMC has to take undertaking saying developer will bear the expenses of water supply? And as I have already said this is just tip of the iceberg because there will be many more issues about the road condition, drainage discharge in adjoining natural water bodies , because we have expanded ourselves but not grown! It’s like a child who simply increase in size with age but totally dependent on the parents for daily basic activities. Unfortunately in our case the parents have refused to take responsibility of the child yet have given birth to it is the fact!

No one denies the need of merging the adjoining villages as the city is growing & will keep on in future to is a writing on the wall. But then we were never known to read the writings on the wall! This merging should have done ten years back only but any ways now also the time has yet run out fullely. And why just ten villages? Like the core area of forest has a buffer zone , whatever is our buffer area lets define it first & then merge that all will be a proper way to do it. As planning of city is not a thing one keeps on doing on yearly basis. Such types of decisions have long lasting impact on the main city & its people so we need to think down the line for at least 50-60 years & then decide our capacity to expand for once on final time only. As it’s a shame that just after ten years even before we have finalized the DP for the same we realize that whatever merging has been done ten years back was inadequate & so put forward proposal for new merging of surrounding villages! The same story should not be repeated every ten years like Jana Ganana is what good planning is.

And the journey has just started by making a resolution that to by just one of the ruling party. It has to be yet tabled in front of General Body i.e. main house of all elected members then the comprehensive plan has to be made for the exact area to be acquired. Again the said villages Gram Panchayts has to accept this merging & then proposal will be send to State Govt's Urban Development Dept & suggestion objects will be called up on then green signal will be shown to the proposal. We can imagine when just DP passing of existing acquired area can take ten years then how much time will be required to complete the whole journey of new acquisition & planning for the same! Unfortunate is the city won’t stop growing in all these years which will be wasted in just deciding whether to acquire the villages or not & if yes how? We are neglecting this fact & not prepared to deal with it. There is provision of applying rules for the areas within ten kilometer radius from the existing PMC boundary, which are for class A municipal corporation but the current governing bodies for this area has got no man power or system to keep proper check on the implementation of these rules. The plans of the new developments in these to be acquired villages may get passed by applying the rules but there is no assurance that it will be followed in actual at site. And what about acquisition of reservation lands & their safety, who will be taking that responsibility, just few more undertakings! Nobody is taking in to consideration what has happened all around us; for e.g. Parvati Hills slum! What guarantee is there that when all the procedure for acquiring villages get completes these reservation lands will be vacant & in proper form to get developed the same for the purpose they have been kept? And another issue is what about the infrastructure to the residents of these areas till all this process gets completed? Till then are these people supposed to survive on undertakings taken by the developers! Are we interested in just collecting revenues & let the city grow in whatever way its growing or are we interested in giving good life to its citizens? Some day someone is going to ask these questions of which we don’t have any answers.

We are forgetting that first duty of any governing urban body is to provide a proper shelter to its citizens & that won’t happen automatically. One has to plan & see that the plan gets in existence by the actions. Here not only the PMC or Urban Development Dept but even the role of Developers & Media is equally important. As common man isn’t aware of any of these things so we need to make them realize the truth about the city they are living in. In any planning time is the essence as even if we don’t acquire the villages they will be & are going to be part of the city is a fact, issue is whether we are going learn from the mistakes in past or continuing the same story from the last page! That is what going to decide the faith of our beloved city & real estate in it. After all what is a Real Estate Industry? It’s one of the basic need fulfilling aspect of the society & this has to be understand by all those who are related to it. As then only we can make the life of common man in this city a bit easier & what better can he ask for?


Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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

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