Sunday, January 15, 2017

Engineering, Environment & CSR!





“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today”… Malcolm X.

Malcolm X, born Malcolm Little and later also known as el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, was an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. To his admirers he was a courageous advocate for the rights of blacks, a man who indicted white America in the harshest terms for its crimes against black Americans; detractors accused him of preaching racism and violence. He has been called one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in history. And of-late it seems our educationists have grasped the wisdom from above quote of Malcom as this sharing is outcome of one such experience of mine. I have been closely associated with academics in recent times; especially anything related with environment or biodiversity conservation as well CSR. By now environment has been part of school education right from fifth standard yet it’s been restricted to few faculties such as civil or specialization courses in environment & CSR i.e. corporate social responsibility is never official part of any teaching at least I am not aware of it! Environment also comes as either environment engineering which is one branch of civil engineering or pure environment science bachelors & masters’ degree courses are there. Now it seems govt wants to make environment part of all the faculties especially the engineering ones along with CSR. 

Its in this context I have been invited to address the summit of Principals of all Govt Polytechnics of the State which is arranged so as these top bosses of diploma course can discuss various skills apart from the regular syllabus to induce amongst the students & Environment along with CSR is one of the main aspects. It was indeed important moment for me as most of them are not just engineers but has obtained Doctorate in concerned fields & to get an opportunity to address such crowd is one of the biggest honors which has came to my way.

Though it’s always more easier to speak in front of such professionals that too hard core teachers for two simple reasons, as normal students are most unpredictable lot & they can get bored very easily at the same time you have to always remind yourself that instead bringing them to your level you have to go down to their level to make them understand your views on the subject. Here the listeners’ are  already above me academically so it’s me rather who has to reach out to their level & then whatever I say they won’t hoot me out was certainty, on lighter note I mentioned this to them at start only!  Coming to the subject it’s great to know that Supreme Court has given directives to induce Environment & CSR as key subject to ever branch of engineering but that shows our attitude to these subjects as why Supreme Court needs to tell us so, are we so dumb? I asked to the forum. The summit was to identify challenges of future in front of engineers but the biggest challenge in front of engineers is to balance the damage of nature by any creation they will create! Check the headlines of any days news paper of our Pune city, right from Metro route being challenged under the name it’s from river bed & will damage the very river life to the Bal Bharti road which is supposed to connect Symbiosis hill to Paud road stating it will affect biodiversity of hills every project is being challenged by NGO’s & worst is most of their challenges has been upheld by NGT i.e. National Green Tribunal. And these are just two examples, all over the country it’s like a war may it be any industrial product or a road project or some new factory, everything is being hailed as anti environment or anti nature for some or other reason! This makes biggest challenge in front of the engineers is conservation of nature while we apply our engineering knowledge for any new creation, may it be civil or mechanical even computer & electronics branches are under scanner as E-Waste is considered as recent threat to nature! On all this background it’s highly important to in cultivate awareness as well knowledge of nature in the students’ right from primary stage & for that we first have to make them understand what is nature!

To start with I have objection to the name of the subject in itself as either we call it as Environment Engineering or Environment Science; both doesn’t gives the purpose why we are teaching them this particular subject! What I suggest is let the subject’s name itself should be Environment Conservation, so the very purpose will be defined right from the name. They are learning this subject to conserve the nature & then from that aspect they will look at it as at present any branch of engineering, I am from civil so will take example of that branch, students choose the branch for only one reason i.e. to become successful post-education with the degree or knowledge they have acquired & that means to earn more money! Unfortunate but truth is this genre measure success only on the scale of money being earned by the knowledge they have & we only are responsible for such thinking as we failed to make them understand true meaning of being successful as an engineer! And for that let’s start from the subject with introducing the subject with name itself as “Environment Conservation & CSR”! As while we teach them this particular subject, the very purpose is not to earn money or become successful in conventional ways but to make this world a better place!

Whenever we say we have to conserve the nature first we have to understand what nature is & you can’t teach nature just by introducing the subject in syllabus or text books. You learn nature by making yourself part of it & for that open up windows of your class rooms along with your mind & let the nature flows in! Nature has been made of mainly following aspects & once we identify them categorically & the impact of our creations on each of them then only we can conserve the nature in totality. I will try to put in words what we need to make the students learn & adopt about every aspect.

Water: In civil engineering we have entire topic dedicated to water but all it tells us is how to purify water or make effluent treatment plants or water management systems but no where it teaches us waters role as life for not just humans but every living species & their share on the water available to us! Let the student understand water is not just an engineering topic but an essential mean for life & every drop counts.

Power: Here power isn’t just electric energy & wiring but its form of energy which is required to get our mechanical & electronic world going. It’s not just about efficient use of electricity but knowing when ever one unit is consumed somewhere a piece of coal is burnt  & we are poorer by some grams on our natural reserves which one day is going to end. We have to teach them while using wind mills for power some where a species of beautiful bird named “Great Indian Bustards or Maldhok” which is already endangered might lose their last pair as they can’t see the big rotor blades of the windmills during their flight. And while we will be happy as an engineer for using power generated from clean energy source, one of the specie has been wiped out from the earth just because we overlooked that we erected windmills right in the Maldhok’s last existing habitats! On other hand while we make our buildings look-wise great, we should not forget the importance of natural light as many buildings which have been praised from outside are actually nightmares for the persons living within them.

Earth: Let’s remember we are not the only specie on the earth rather we are just one out of millions & every specie has equal right on every piece of earth. We dig roads from midst of forests making lives of thousands of animals under grave threat. We build dams which submerge homes of many species in its backwater & the list of our encroachment on other is unending. Just mind this whatever you are doing for making human life better might end up some other’s life forever, so plan our needs accordingly.

Greens: Whenever any engineer takes charge of any site, he looks at every tree standing on the site as enemy is what my experience is. And I don’t blame him as he has been taught trees because of their roots, are worst enemies of the foundation of any structure! Well, what we can expect from our engineers if such is their education foundation about nature conservation & this is what we need to teach them. Teach them that trees are your best friends & do we chop our best friends just to make our project work easy? Teach them that the way your building is going to provide homes for human beings, in same way a tree is home to hundreds of birds & insects which are like our neighbors & deserve better living. I think the entire approach towards the nature needs to be changed then only they can balance both things.

Sky: Ask them when they have last looked at sky & felt the blueness of it, especially students who have come from rural; & what difference they found in the sky of Pune & sky, back in their town or village?  Like water, the sky is inherent part of nature & a clear blue sky indicates pollution free environment. Whatever we create here is not natural & that creation is bound to create some pollution & as an engineer if we are responsible for pollution then it’s our responsibility only to counter balance the damage we have made to the sky, lets teach them this aspect of engineering.

After nature another important aspect is CSR i.e. Corporate Social Responsibility; I will cut the word corporate out & say just Social Responsibility. It means ability or attitude to share your success, a quality which is vanishing fast from the society. Henry Ford has once said, “Any business which generates just money is a bad business” & I believe him. Times are changing, no more the bosses are supposed to be with harsh words & stern face & keeping all the profits with them. One makes progress only if entire team progresses & right from your collogues to your vendors & yes many more less fortunate segments of the society, we should make party to our success all these. And being an engineer we are best to find out logical solutions to reduce the hardship of living which many have to face. And goodness is something we need to teach as badness comes to most of us naturally!

After sharing this you all might be thinking what are we going to produce, engineers or environmentalists? Well, let me put it clear, we want environmentalist engineers as that’s the key to our safe & healthy future. And that is easily doable as every youngster has got flair for nature much more than what our grown up mind has, all you have to do is make him identify own self a bit better. Right from starting nature club to making them write diary of goodness where they can write every days one good work they think they have done, many simple things can achieve our goal.

To conclude I will ask you all, as a teacher to engineering students, how you rate your success? Is it that maximum students passes out with distinction or goes to higher studies at best of institutes or gets fat salary packages in campus interviews? I think even if one single student pass out with average marks but with a understanding that why he or she has acquired the engineering knowledge & uses it for the society where everyone is able to live at peace & happiness by his or her creations, then I have succeeded as a teacher of that engineer!

As remember none other species except human beings has facility of having engineering colleges & that makes us most responsible to create engineers which will make the world a better place for every living object; if we succeed to do that, then I think we have right to call us as makers of engineers or else like the movie Terminator, we will end up as creator of machines making the world worst than what it was!


-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU


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



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below) 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

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

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Real Estate, City & New Year 2017!






 “It’s not the first step but the direction in which you take it is what decides your fate” … Lao Tzu.

What wonderful words from the great Zen Master, to describe the scene on the horizon of real estate to start another year! And indeed the passing year i.e. 2016 was one that many from real estate will definitely like to forget it as early as possible; such was the scene in the industry. Every possible bad thing has happened in 2016 right from controversies over TDR policy making projects delay to PMC’s inability to get the new DP sanctioned in time to poor infrastructure making flats non-salable to ready reckoner rates hike & then demonetization came as last nail in to the coffin! With due respect to Hon PM’s intentions yet it’s the rumors which was outcome of demonetization, that property prices will fall further even to extent of 30 %, which has hit the industry worst. Because most buyers, even those genuine ones too preferring to wait for the price fall of homes; making sale of flats come to standstill! 

On this back ground while I started writing this sharing, thankfully the 2017 seems to have some real good news ahead for e.g. the Pune’s Metro has been finally seen the day light as bjoomipoojan has been done by the hands of none other than PM himself, so at least to protect his credibility, the State Govt will peruse the project on priority is we can hope! Then with demonetization, banks have been flooded with funds & SBI which is biggest player in home finance as well project finance to real estate has cut down the interest rates by whooping 0.9% & so are following the other financial institutes, making home loans cheaper. This will surely help mid segment where every single rupee counts when EMI is concerned. At the same time DP i.e. development plan of PMC also has been signed by CM at last, as it was become more awaited that Janhavi’s baby, (a popular TV serials character’s delivery news, which has become laughing stock of social media, such was the way the story has been dragged of that serial). Also projects like ring road & air-port, which will be having a long term impact on Pune regions development especially real estate development also has been cleared & PMRDA’s also moving fast of their DP. Another major aspect of 2017 is it will be deciding Pune & Pimpmpri Chinchwad’s rulers fate i.e. elections of PMC & PCMC are due in first quarter of this year so for next five years where the city development will head, is also equally important for the city’s real estate. As if BJP wins then Galli to Delhi there will be same ruler, not that it makes any big difference as it was like that for nearly fifteen years barring last two but it hardly has made any difference to city’s real estate & need of homes!

I really wonder what our rulers thinks of Pune as they want all the advantages they get from the city i.e. right from revenue by IT industries, numbers of skilled hands which passes out every years from thousands of education institutes in Pune, millions of jobs which this city provides through its auto & service industries yet when it comes to provide simple basic infrastructure, the city is getting poorer by every passing year on that front! The city needs homes but so many things right from simple things like getting approval for development plan like basics keeps on getting delayed for reasons known only to the rulers. Then there are pending decisions like merging of fringe villages’ as well giving authority & funding to bodies like PMRDA for essential infrastructure because of which entire development has got stuck in fringe areas which is only hope for providing affordable homes. Even the Zillah Parishad which is oldest public body which is supposedly takes care of civic infrastructure out of PMC & PCMC limit has been failed repeatedly for doing the same. This has made lives of millions of citizens living in & around Pune miserable as they have a home but which don’t have any proper roads, public transport, water supply, drainage, garbage disposal & the list goes on & on!

Though the DP of PMC has been cleared by the CM yet again politically sensitive issues like BDP along with few reservations has been kept on hold, such jokes can happen only in this State & Country! Means it’s like your total body’s city scan has been done but the technician will not give you report of few parts of your body & yet the patient has to be examined by the doctor for diagnosis! How can such jokes the govt system allows, as just it will affect some election you keep on hold entire policy like bio diversity park i.e. BDP which is most important for city’s future as well environment! Same is story with issue of Metro Depot or terminal as earlier on the same location reservation for making Memorial of Shivaji Maharaj was proposed. Now the govt is in fix whether to cancel that reservation as that land is important for Metros aspect but this decision will disturb the caste equations! Actually one has to have guts when you have power in hand & it’s not some caste of person but entire city’s future has to be thought! No one says don’t build memorials but even the Shivaji Maharaj himself while building his forts has thought of citizen’s convenience on the top of everything, let’s not forget this! Though the Metro also has been announced by none other than the PM himself but looking at our past, time lag between the  announcement of any project & coming that project in actual use of the citizens is too much  is a fact! Even the TDR policy along the Metro corridor is in dilemma as there is no clear stand about whether to give 4.0 times FSI along the Metro corridor or use some other means to promote the Metro. AT the same time Metro alignment matter is in Green Tribunal as nearly 1.7 km route is through river bed. I have seen many cities across the world but nowhere Metro or any such development has been done through the river bed; yes under the river there are rails & roads in tunnel form as that doesn’t harm the river bed & biodiversity it has. It will be interesting that even after PM himself has announced Metro, what if NGT doesn’t allow the Metro through river bed? Has PMC or Metro Rail Company kept plan B in hand is the question. Along with Metro the local bus service also is equally important as Metro completing may take at least six years even if its completed in specified time & till that time the number of vehicles will go over six millions & people need to get used to public transport by then. So PMPML has said to get nearly 1200 new busses at their service, thing is they need to carve new routes as well & supporting infrastructure like bus stops, well equipped depot & terminals to park these busses safely.

I think focus of DP hereafter must be around the pollution threat which looms over the city as in long term that will be beneficial for the city real estate. Many won’t agree with my statement but I have repeatedly stated backbone of the real estate in this city is its cultural, social & natural resources rich status which it provides to the citizens! From all over the country people want to come to Pune & make this city their home because there is something in this city which makes them feel comfortable & fall in love with her! And it’s this emotion or feeling we have around which we have to plan the DP or develop the city. Now with DP at least most of it sanctioned second step is more important i.e. to execute it in time bound way. Imagine if it took 10 years to plan the DP & get it sanctioned, then how much time we will need to execute it?

New Year as I mentioned above will decide new rulers also as on all radio FM channels Pune’s Hon Mayor is telling people about various schemes by PMC, most of them we have been listening for more than ten years by now & few we came to know only via these advertises! In one of the advertise Hon Mayor tells us about “Project Light House”, under which PMC will be giving skills training to teen age kids! Which kids? What criterions for selection? What skills & how many of kids by now has been trained under this scheme as well what they are doing after they got training? Many such question which you can get answer only via election polls is what I feel! This city can’t even have clean public toilets & we talk about training younger lot of the city, I really get amazed how blind folded we can be! And suddenly just before election how come Hon Mayor realized that the citizens should be informed about PMC’s proactivenss regarding the citizens! Same is announcement of giving two time water supply, but no one speaks about why it was one time for entire year? I think like the real estate guys, our rulers also should realize that no more fooling to the common man.

On all these back grounds real estate industry must have learnt its own lessons by now. As without literally any infrastructure support whatever growth the industry has seen it has come from the genuine demand the city has generated. Till now there was a phase where every day saw new high in property rates but the scene won’t be same ever. As with demonetization as well sentiments are at lowest level in auto as well white goods. At the same time buying capacity has been reduced for the common man due to day to day expenses. No more people are looking for just high end specifications & plush locations as well the investors are out of market for a while, though by me that is a good thing! The New Year also saw RERA implementation intimation by Central & State govts which is like a sword i.e. it depends how you use it. Clients have become aware about their rights & law is on their side, so better the real estate also follows fair practices. Don’t run behind speculation, may you be a builder or a flat purchaser & look for need than greed! Real estate is hoping that with lower interest rates & banks swelling with deposited funds, there will be up mood in buying which I doubt, because just for cheaper loan no fool will buy the home but there should be right deal in first place! 

I listened to one more commercial on the FM channel, it’s a teaser welcoming New Year & it’s says, “Saal badalnese kuch nahi hoga, khudko badlo”; means our fate doesn’t change by change of some year on calendar but it changes only if we change our-self! The real estate should take a lesson from this commercial as that is what the buyer also expects & I think if it happens then that’s true Happy New Year for the real estate of the city!


-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 




Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU


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



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below) 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

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

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

PMRDA's Mission Home for One Crore !!



“You can spend the money on new housing for needy people and the homeless, or you can spend it on a football stadium or a golf course”… Jello Biafra


Jello Biafra is the former lead singer and songwriter for San Francisco punk rock band Dead Kennedys, and is currently a musician and spoken word artist. Politically, Biafra is a member of the Green Party of the United States and actively supports various political causes. He is a staunch believer in a free society, who utilizes shock value and advocates direct action and pranksterism in the name of political causes. I remembered his above quote when my veteran reporter friend Sunil Mali asked me to share my views for Sakal News Paper's Wardhapn Din edition about Pune Region’s housing need for its proposed population which soon will be touching to 10 million i.e. one core in our Desi language! Somehow the term million doesn't excite we Indians, yes its figures in lacs & crores which makes us interested! Though there is one more terminology about lac & crore which I will revel at end of my sharing! With Pune & Pimpri Chinchwad, more commonly known as PMC & PCMC together we are already approximately fifty plus lacs & what we are speaking about one crore is Pune region barring these two Municipal limits, which it will reach by 2025. And that means we are talking about nearly twenty five lac homes which this one crore population will need!

As Jello has said it’s the needy people’s housing which should be focus of urban planning & not just mega projects like Metro or Ring Roads! I personally feel a city should make people at peace & be energetic with their positive vibes & that may be a bit vague target to achieve but all we need is little bit understanding of people’s needs & their life style. One can be at peace in a city by cohesive effect of physical as well social infrastructure i.e. things which I mentioned above like roads, water supply & then right from gardens to play grounds to cultural platforms as they too count most if you want to make citizens at peace. And social outings are the best outlets for citizens’ positive energy, look at Paris, Mother of Arts & not just a tourist place! Most importantly the city should offer its infrastructure to every citizen in equality & not just by his or her paying capacity or status!

So let’s see where we stand on all these aspects & expectations, as I remember my first exposure to dear Pune way back in 86, as a young boy from rural of Vidarbha I got down by Maharashtra Express on a rainy morning at Pune station. For me then also everything was like from story of Gulliver’s voyages i.e. journey to an island where every scale is ten times bigger. Have never seen so big railway stations as my home town has just one platform & a single rail with three coaches connects us to main line. What was more amazing that I haven’t sat in an auto rickshaw as then still in most towns of Vidarbha its man driven rickshaws which were common. But then there were tangaus too i.e. horse cart as well double bus which is called as “Joad Bus”. Since then I became a Punkear as major part of my life has spent here only.And why me every young boy graduated from rest of Maharashtra want to get education in Pune & settle down here; even youngsters from other States also aspire same thing! Its fine as we consider this as development or progress but with sudden rise on education facilities as well jobs in Pune region the next question is whether Pune region has enough homes to accommodate all these new migrants? When I say homes it’s not just buildings but homes with basic needs & affordable also to all those who wants to set foot in this city! Since 2000, the city saw rise to new specie i.e. IT’ans, & all thinks money is in ample to IT industry jobs which isn’t true anymore. Ample may be a right term in compare to other industries but the so called progress has also raised expense bar on every front for the resident in Pune region. Right from fuel costs which are huge, thanks to poor public transport to education, health care, entertainment, everything costs here. Gone are the morning show Rs 5 tickets’ of movies, now a family going to movie has to shell out minimum thousand rupees for a movie outing is a fact. And balancing this life style you have to match EMI’s of home loans & that takes out peace of mind for most of the youngsters!

On this background the biggest challenge in front of PMRDA authorities is & will be to take care of this housing need of the citizens of Pune while the city keeps growing. I said deliberately PMRDA as PMC & most part of PCMC has been saturated now with hardly any space for new development & again thanks to ever changing policies of Urban Development, redevelopment is crippled under the rules like TDR use, Height & Parking restrictions as well double staircases etc. So with nearly 7000sq km area under the belt out of which approx 3200 sq km is devlopable, PMRDA is the only hope now for home aspiring migrants in Pune region & it’s this region which is supposed to reach mark of one crore population by 2025 i.e. hardly 8-9 years from now! And why PMRDA, because it has every potential to accommodate this population as out of developble 3200sq km land, even if we consider utilizing by urban planning norms even 40% for residential development then we are talking of nearly 1200 sq km area which is three times that of PMC’s spread & we can expect nearly 1500crore sq ft build-able FSI, which makes nearly 2 crore homes of 800sft area! Though it’s not that easy as it looks so let’s look at the approach of PMRDA to handle this volume or say the steps they need to take. One more reason is land prices in Pune region are nearly one third of land prices in PMC or PCMC suburbs so that makes Pune region most sought after for real estate or housing!

First & foremost is making a detailed Development Plan of Pune region which will define not just residential area but everything related to development of Pune region i.e. right from road network to essential services like water supply, garbage depots to recreation facilities, education, public health & work zones. The very same region has many existing industries scattered all around for e.g. Chakan, Kurkumbh, Ranjangon & many such, so keeping their status in mind PMRDA will have to plan residences around the same. Most important factor about planning homes in Pune region is maximum number of migrants are in this region because of their jobs so connectivity to respective work places may it be IT industry or Auto industry is the major aspect of planning.
The road network is going to play a major factor in fulfilling need of these 25 lac homes. As right now the only reason of unavailability of homes is thousands of hectors of land is laying unutilized due to non accessibility even the zone as per town planning was residential. Till now the planning authority for Pune region was town planning but they haven’t done micro planning of the same. Town planning has made regional plan i.e. RP but it features only major roads which are planned on the existing Shiv roads (long existing roads on the boundary of two villages). Another limitation was RP doesn’t have any provision for cluster development supported by essential services, means it can just sanction projects as residential or industrial. There wasn’t even provision or capacity with the town planning to develop even the amenity spaces which were mandatory for any plan on area more than 4000sq m. Outcome was all we could have is just buildings with literally no infrastructure or amenities other than internal i.e. whatever the developer provides within the project.  Then one major problem with RP was it doesn’t have any acquisition policy like giving TDR if the landlord surrenders his land reserved for any purpose other than residential or commercial development & that’s the reason till now no road network or any essential facility hasn’t been developed in Pune region for last decade! With PMRDA DP all these lands will be connected not only to nearby work places but even with PMC & PCMC via the proposed ring road which covers entire Pune Region. This road also has provision of Metro along with it & together this project can help solving housing problem for millions of aspirants. First thing it joins literally every major development existing & proposed in Pune region & connects all the major National as well State highways approaching to Pune.

Challenge is considering the huge spread of Pune region, PMRDA will require equally big set up which includes staff as well machinery for their own effective functioning to fulfill target of so many homes. Here one strong point of PMRDA in comparison to town planning is it has funds which are being collected against the premiums & development charges for sanctioning of these very housing projects. Planning is this money can be utilized for setup of PMRDA as well execution of projects like ring road. Also PMRDA can use paid FSI type money generating policies for their set up along with allowing developing reservation lands to private developers in lieu of premiums. At the same time it can join hands with local developers or private players for internal road development or water supply scheme projects. Already one such non-profit making company has been formed for water supply & road developments in Mulshi zone; it covers Sus, Bhugaon, Pirangut, Man villages. Because as I have said earlier you can expect just to give sanctions to residential projects without having back up of essential services like road, water & drainage. One important aspect while making DP of Pune region is to balance residential area with agriculture area; as at present Pune’s need of vegetables’ is being fulfilled by the farming in lands spread in & around Pune, so we need to conserve them along with biodiversity in form of forest lands.

So the stage for accommodating one crore population has been set by PMRDA, now all depends on how fast they make their DP & more importantly our Mai Baap State Gov the Urban development Dept clears the same! And then come implementing the said DP as looking at history of PMC & PCMC, I hope PMRDA must have learnt their lesson already! Or else whatever today we are calling as growth won’t take time to get called as swelling!

-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=1415&v=blgni8HSfDU

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



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)
 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

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

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Forest, Tiger & Me!







“The book of forest has no beginning, as it has no end. Open this book where you will, and at any period of your life, and if you have the desire to acquire knowledge you will find it of intense interest, and no matter how long or how intently you study the pages, your interest will not flag, for in nature there is no finality.”  Jim Corbett.

These are the words I read when I have never ever been in a forest but its these & many such words from the greatest wild-life lover, conservator, writer whatever you call him, (I never liked calling Jim as hunter, not even man eater hunter) which made me to visit the forests &  there is no end to this passion! Every time I visit forests something new I get to see & when I get out of the forest I am a better man is what I feel by myself. Though of late I avoid forests in winters as the age is catching up & hecticness of forest routine makes the body takes toll, especially the winter mornings of Central India! Yet the addiction of those greens is such that rarely I can restrain myself that too when there is a cause like helping to the people who are real guardians of the forests. One such occasion came for touring Tadoba which by now has become tiger hub for all wild lifers, where we keep supporting in our little way to the guides as well guards by various means. This time its donating nearly 250 pairs of shoes to all the guides of TATR as well gate staff at Moaharli which is main entry gate to the park. I was accompanied by wife Ashwini & her collogue yogesh, who works on their own under RASA foundation for forest conservation.  In a cozy function we handed over the shoes to the guides at hands of Director Mr. Ganpati Garad who is a wonderful orator also & in his crisp sharing underlined the importance of role of guides in wild life tourism. That part will come later; also present were officers as well Dy Director Core Mr. Goeakr. What was more heartening, all the guards as well guides gathered for a group snap with us & thanked us for our support to them. It’s not that forest dept doesn’t care or support guides or the guards but then each of us in whatsoever way we can contribute is always welcome. Because forest conservation is not just job of some department or so called govt, as we too are equal part of that very govt! To my surprise there were nearly ten numbers of lady guides also present, which is important aspect as its sign that women are also joining wild life sector which was supposedly a male dominated one!
Though it was late November yet the infamous central Indian winter wasn’t at its best & I was glad for that, for two things, one as I mentioned earlier I myself doesn’t like cold much & second is sighting of not just tiger but other animals too is bit less in very cold weather! Obvious that with less water bodies, summers are always at its best for tiger sighting at Tadoba yet winter has  its own charm on forests, covering the entire terrain with every shade of green & even the animals wear darker & more colorful coats with the season! 

So here are some of my sightings i.e. "ankho dekha haal”…

We reached very late at tadoba after day long drive nearly 1100 km from Pune in one single day, thanks to Toyota Fortuner & with just 3 hours sleep were up for morning ride & still we reached to gate when most of the gypsy’s had been left & probably entered last in forest. There is always a debate about what is good position to enter in forest, while many veteran wild lifers are keen to enter first, logic is as all the night park is closed for tourists & tiger hunts mostly at night so it’s been on move & every chance to get some roaming tiger on road first to the first entrant. And once the vehicles start moving it might go inside from main track, though after visiting so many forests I have come to conclusion that most tigers are used to vehicles & unless it’s a new tiger or young we can say which are bit shy; the tiger cares a hang about vehicles! I witnessed many incidences even in this trip also to prove my logic which I will share eventually. And about entry in park many a times the late you enter there are equal chance of sighting a tiger which just by instinct has moved off-track from the road because of approaching sound of a gypsy & can come out when it feels the road is secure to move. As by now we all know tiger likes to walk on jungle roads than from the foliage or grass as it has soft pads in feet & to walk on road track is easy to walk without making any sound of crunching of dry leafs, which is essential while hunting as well lesser chances of injury to the paws in that way!
So first safari we entered late & best part of the forest is as you inhale the fragrance of greens in your lungs there goes your all tiredness, so did mine on that morning. Yet the sleep deprived eyes were not ready to give-up the sleep & I was trying to take in the fresh cool November air & sun was yet to come, entire surrounding was in misty mode. As our gypsy was taking turns through the bamboos thickset suddenly we saw two of the gypsy’s waiting ahead & people in that waving frantically towards us as they saw us approaching & the sleep has vanished from our eyes as I knew by the waving of those people that there has to be tiger somewhere around! And just when we stopped, there comes a tigress with collar around her neck, Choti Tara, & started walking towards us. By now over the years in forest I have started believing in luck as its hardly fifteen minutes we have entered in forest & a tigress is walking to me, a scene for which people longs days & days & many a times they have to return without even a glimpse of the tiger. Agreed I have seen enough tigers yet every time thrill & excitement is different, especially when such unexpectedly you encounter the animal, then its more! For a moment I felt sad for the waiting gypsy’s as its our vehicle which has got head on shots of the tigers but in forests luck keeps shifting gears, so part of game. And seems that day our luck was over flowing as our guide a veteran Tadoba man, Bandu Mankar, kept a finger on his lips & said “Sir bacchepan aahet” (sir, cubs are also around). In forest most important thing is silence as then only your hearing senses can help you & there you know how useless we are to use our natural senses like hearing or seeing or smelling! First I couldn’t hear anything but then when Bandu pointed figure to a direction in shrubs, I could hear a faint “miyaw”, yes its cubs & they do make sound like a domestic cat! The tigress also responded with similar whistle type sound & those who thinks tigers can only roar, for them, tigress makes a peculiar sound to call her cubs or to instruct them which is not at all a roar! And then responding to her calling, come jumping like toddlers two small cubs of just 2/3 months old, from the foliage on road. Again forest has surprised me as I was longing for such sight for years & let me admit frankly, the more you go to forest the more it makes you greedy for such longings! As however times you go to forest you know something you haven’t seen yet & forest never send you with empty hands especially if you are die hard wild lifer! Here I was witnessing one of the best sight in forest, a young tigress guiding her toddler cubs for outing & making them expose to the forest around, unaware of all the humans around & cameras shutters which were clicking like machine guns!

Real drama followed later, once the cubs vanished in grass land along with mother, we waited for half an hour & suddenly when we thought sighting is over then one of the cubs crossed the road behind our gypsy & again the tigress came on open road from the grass. It was wonderful winter morning, clear blue sky & bright morning sun lighting the forest, a light breeze flowing over the forest & those majestic yellow black stripes walking on red road from the dancing yellow grass with those piercing green eyes looking at you!  I reminded my-self how lucky I am to witness such sight & such scenes which pulls us towards the forest again & again at the same time tells us it’s my duty too, to save such environment! By now entire sleep from the eyes has vanished & it’s like a fresh start of the day.
While we were waiting for the tigress to come out, which is best time in forest as your all senses are alert, a slightest moment or sound you start noticing! And it’s this time when you see many things which makes you realize patience pays, as a tiny colorful butterfly silently landed on a small teak tree leaf near our vehicle & for a moment I forgot all about the tigress watching its wings flutter! The green leaf’s background was like a canvas for the multicolored butterfly & it was enjoying sun bath, unfazed by all the vehicles moments around which are focusing on tigress. In forest it’s not all about tiger but every second something is happening & its here you learn to take notice of smallest details around, a habit which has helped a lot back in my work & in home too!

Later three days thereon we explore tadoba forest & to my surprise even in winter the tigers kept us busy, Here I will share some inputs for those who complaints they didn’t have any sighting even in four or five safaris (which eventually happened for next three days after we left at Tadoba). Well, the reason is before summer to avoid forest fires, forest dept clears the dry leafs & branches fallen all along the forest trails. And numbers of workers are busy in doing the clearing work all day long, so there is lot of human moment in the forest which drives the animals deeper in forest i.e. away from vehicle routes! So while visiting the forests it’s important to get such information about park details. One more aspect is weather forecast as if its cloudy then that’s not good weather for sighting as well for photography. Though forest is best by me in any weather & situation yet for those who are first timers, I can understand their eagerness for tiger sighting & to avoid disappointment of lesser chances of sightings such information is important before you visit any forest!

After tadoba, though my plans were to return to Pune yet I got a call from a friend in Pench, MP & in spite my uncomfort for chilly winter of MP, I couldn’t resist temptation to visit there as pench forest is at its best in winter! Many people who have been to pench do like the forests but often comes empty hands on tiger sighting front. But my case is reverse, every single time I had been to pench I was gifted with some unique tiger sighting & this time also pench didn’t disappointed me! Here I will share a classic experience especially those who complains about not lucky about tiger sighting… We all long for just a glimpse of tiger when we go to forest but have we every thought what it takes to locate one single animal in the vast spread of the jungle? As per my experience, tiger sighting is mix of luck, patience & experience! I had just two safaris at pench & on evening safari when we were wandering on lesser known parts of forest, we came across a lone gypsy which has got a flat tire & we stopped for help. The guide of that gypsy said he thinks he heard tiger roaring in lantana bushes across. Our guide was a veteran named, hemraj said its territory of legendary collerwali tigress & she comes on road approx 5 pm, so we thought giving shot & wait. There were languor’s waiting & chitals herd grazing nearby & some fifty feet stretch of grass after which thickset of lantanas starts. Nearly 45 minutes waiting during which even the earlier gypsy left, suddenly a languor gave its typical scratchy alarm & the chital herd sprang away, means both of them have noticed the tiger & seen it also! From the lantanas the legendary collerwali tigress stepped out in the grass & with most stylish strides gave us a classy look, crossed the road & went to water hole across the road, drank water & vanished in the woods! The tigress has recently given birth to three small cubs & in total nearly 26 tigers she has gifted to Pench MP, till now; what a contribution, she was radio collared for safety of her cubs’ earlier, so she got nicknamed as collarwali tigress!! This is where experience & patience can make the difference in tiger sighting as well even knowing the forest better, as hemraj the guide has used his knowledge of memorizing the moment area as well time of the tigress & used it. This is what is expected from the guides especially with the tourists who are not regulars to the forest. At the same time the guides should use their expertise to make tourists understand finest details of the forest like behavior of other animals when they notice presence of tiger as all these things creates interest about forest in the minds of the tourists. Also the tourists should keep patience & trust in the guide allotted to them as many thinks guides & drivers are making time pass to save petrol, when they stop at one place after hearing alarm calls!

After I come back in Pune & posted few snaps on FB groups & there are real good groups like Sanctuary or CLAW or Tadoba Wild Images by Atul Dhamankar; this is very good platform of sharing information, knowledge about Indian forests. On one of groups some person has posted snaps of vehicles traffic jam type situation & frenzy of tourists to sight a tiger. I won’t name the park but I feel this is outcome of restricting park tourism areas by Hon Supreme Court. As take example of Tadoba, with all good officers working hard for park management yet the routes open for tourism are less, making whatever vehicles are in park coming at same spot again & again & especially if tiger moment is observed then more the reason. The route from Moharli to Kolasa range is closed so more vehicles moves in same zone. And you can’t blame tourists as they come all way round just for tiger, so whenever one sees a tiger everyone wants to have his piece of cake. Here the role of guides as well gypsy driver is very crucial as they have to satisfy the tourists’ demand of showing them the tiger yet it should not breech peace of the animals movement is to be observed. With due respect towards sentiments of all wild lifers & every species in forest, I personally feel every first timer to the forest should get to see the tiger! As that is what makes him come again & again to the forests & then he starts understanding how wonderful place forest is! And then only we can cultivate the seed of responsibility towards conservation of forest in him, so first step is tiger sighting! This aspect of wild life tourism should be bought to the notice of Hon Supreme Court to open every single piece of forest land to the tourists as its these people who will later help for conservation of the forests, only thing is the tourism should be controlled in such way that enjoyment doesn’t becomes botheration & that is possible by more forest staff & awareness. Closing down major part of forests or restricting tourism by stringent rules isn’t the solution as it’s these tourists which are eyes, nose & ear of forests. Many a time a wounded animal has been reported by the tourists before forest department comes to know about it, such is advantage. As well it’s in a way continues vigilance, so poacher’s movements also gets curbed; rather we can think of night safaris to avoid poaching which happens mostly at nights. And we can think of giving special license to regular tourists with entrance test like we conduct for driving license & then only allowing them for night safaris!

Remember each of us has a role to play in conserving the book named forest, at-least my forest trips have taught me that much & that’s what even legends like Jim Corbet also has been telling to us over the years! High time for all wild life lovers to get united on this conserving future of forests, forgetting about the status i.e. govt or private & act united. Because forests are habitats of millions of wild species of which tiger is at apex & if that gets vanished then with it will go charm or very purpose of our living, is all I know!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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