Monday, May 2, 2011

River & Real Estate of the City…

To make an error is human, to repeat it is stupid… Aristotle

When I read news papers every day I can’t stop remembering this quote by the great thinker! Especially about encroachments on rivers flowing through the city & may it be Mithi River for Mumbai or am nadi for Pune, scenario is same. Right from the ancient times river has major impact on real estate development, agreed there may not be the term real estate then nor the specie named as Builders yet from the beginning of civilization man has been comfortable to reside in the vicinity of a river. There are hundreds of example all over the world right from Harappa-Monhanjaro in the basin of Indus to Egyptians who chose Nile for their settlement. You take any big city it’s been set around some big & perennial river.
Since then till now man has always been comfortable besides river  & its very natural as a river assures water supply which is a basic need of any society also its a source for agriculture & transportation too. Same way for hygiene also its must as then we have to yet found drainage treatment plants, so drainage also taken care by a flowing river.

Coming to present times when land is a scarce commodity & we are trying to utilize every piece of it at its most & at such time a river or any water body flowing right through the city & not perinea i.e. flowing only in rainy season, is bound to get the target of men around it! Here lies the big difference between all our forefathers residing adjoining rivers & us. They had realized the importance of the rivers & were keen on protecting them too & not just exploiting the advantages from the river. They controlled their pollution levels, restricted the use of water & never has encroached river rather made her sacred giving her statues of God, river god! It helped in maintaining proper relation with river, here this relation term is very important as no relation can be maintained only by just taking, and we need to give also. This is what exactly we have forgotten! We are convinenantly neglecting the later part of the relation i.e. giving something back to the river from which we keep on taking continuously.

What river expects from us? Nothing, a little care about her banks as well not to pollute her by our acts, that’s it. At the same time we are not the sole beneficiary of the river, many other species from fishes to birds to so many of plants all of which helps in keeping the river clean. They all also survive on the same river & have equal right on her is what we need to remind our own self. Rather we are the one who pollute & all other species try their best to clean up our mess. We call our self most intelligent specie but where our intelligence run away when its time of showing responsibility towards the river, is what I always think?

Recently all the news papers are full about rivers in our beloved Pune city getting encroached, mostly by the developers (as the news says). Well, have we ever thought what’s the reason & why it’s happening so? For most the answer is simple, it’s for greed! True in some way but then what we are doing against it & is it really just the developers who are responsible? Again no partial view because I myself in the same profession, but have we really been serious in protecting our Rivers? Ask this o our own self & we will know that we haven’t even marked the river boundary lines on the banks leave apart guarding the same. When ever we speak about encroachment then first thing is we should be clear about the boundaries of the same & then whose job it is?
The most spoken river of the city i.e. Ram nadi, the joke is we haven’t yet cleared whether its river or Nallah! And again it’s not about is a Nallah or River as any natural water body is equally important for us & needs to be protected in its natural way. Truth is we don’t want to take responsibility & that’s why the encroachments go on by all the concerned as the poor river cant speak out by herself. But it’s not true, why river, each of natural water way speaks out in its own way; we have experienced it all over & around the city in last rains! Its like hell broke loose with every nallah, stream, river whatever we call it started overflowing & hitting whatever comes in its way & we name it flash flood! Is it really? We knew what’s coming & this year also the picture hasn’t changed. This reminds me a story from Panchatantra of a monkey who used to say in every rain I will build a home next year & never did so & at end dies because of the winter which followed rains! Well agreed we are predecessors of a monkey but surely we are much wiser at least considers our self so!
First of all we need to demarcate every natural water source not just on plans but on field. It’s same like marking roads on the surface. This will make all the land holders adjoining such sources about the exact line of the channel which is the main reason why presently we are talking about encroachments. Mark it in permanent way like concrete poles or something which will remain in position. Then we can decide about the way we will be protecting the channel. In many forward countries where river is flowing right through the city the banks have been well build for e.g. Sean in Paris or the river of Singapore. This may not be appalled by the nature lovers but urbanization is a fact & most of the slums come up adjoining to river also the garbage & drainage finds its path to the same & walling the channel surely will curtail this damage. We can have a green belt or zone inside this wall & then the river bed. We should also have the access to the main river/ nallah bed at fix intervals for maintenance as I have seen at many places where the retaining walls have been built on both the banks it becomes impossible for the maintenance equipments like JCB to go in the channel bed for even cleaning!
Another important factor is increasing urbanization around the natural water channels have reduced the absorbing capacity of soil & more rainfall in the form of water which we call runoff is coming to these channels in a short period of time causing sudden flood like situation. Here every society as well developer should carry their Rain water harvesting of the complex & try to percolate the rain water falling in their premise only. Try to plant as many large growing trees we can as their roots hold soil & the same soil holds the rain water. Letting of drainage in rivers is another matter of extreme concern as it directly affects survival of other species depending on the river water. So a need of adequate Drainage Treatment Plants to treat the drainage water & then only let in the rivers & making the policies accordingly is there.
Another important factor is growing population & our incapability to homes to all the classes & that’s what makes them encroach not only river beds but what ever vacant lands available in the city. Somewhere we as a developers & the system are only responsible for this situation. And we should have our self governance while working out the projects from this aspect.

What I feel is, instead looking for whose responsibility it is, let’s think what’s my responsibility towards my river? There only lies hope for the poor river of our city!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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