Monday, October 31, 2011

FSI & City Grwoth!

Pune is famous for the cutouts & uncalled birthday hoardings yet few of the cut outs are there for public awareness too & one such caught my attention on FC road. It’s a questioner by an association related to developers/engineers & few questions were asked to the passer by about whether it’s right to increase FSI of the buildings in city & is it wise to let the city grow further more when already the infrastructure is weak & insufficient for the existing population. And is it practical to allow the population grows further & to entertain the new industries as well development which meant the new buildings!

Being an engineer as well developer by profession, the hoarding caught my attention & so as the thought process! After all why & how a city grows? And if yes then can we control growth of any city by just not giving additional FSI? More to add then do we really want our city to stop growing? I think the third question can be the key to earlier two questions! Why we want this city to stop growing? Is it the infamous Train effect? Like in train which is running full, at each station the new comers are not welcomed by the insiders type! Have we got the right to stop the new comers when at some stage we too were new comers in this train? Agreed after a certain capacity it wont be possible for any bogie to accommodate the new comers & the result is disaster for all the occupants but in train there are other bogies or even next train in case. Have we got that kind of alternative for this very Pune city? The migration towards the cities is not new now as it’s not the cities which are lacking in infrastructure it’s the towns & villages which are not even having basics of them. As to lack you need to have something in basic to be existed which isn’t & that’s why more & more people are opting to shift to the cities making them metros! Nobody leaves his native place in will or by choice, it’s the forced decision in most cases as in present times considering the inflation rate, a city life is much costlier than the village life is a fact. Then why a person opts for moving out of his town or village & comes to city is a question to be studied.

Now after accepting that people are migrating to the cities lets come to the issue that how we are going to check this up at city end? Think about the kind of system we have developed here & what it takes to keep this system in operation?
We have development plans for the city & it’s said to be accommodative for coming 20 years. If this is true then why we are worried about city getting over populated! As that must have been considered while making the plan which includes infrastructure for this population too! Thing is we are too slow on making the development plan & then slower ate executing the same. For e.g. take the DP of extended PMC limit, still it’s in process of approval since last 7-8 years & with every segment crying over it! Yet as a city we are failure to get something sanctioned which we only have planned & we are talking about curtailing the new growth by not giving additional FSI.

Here it’s important to understand the concept of FSI, its Floor Space Index which means a factor which decided how much constructed area you can have on a particular piece of land. Usually in Pune city its 1, means we can built as much area of the plot only. In gaothan i.e. old city it’s 2 & in some case where number of existing residents are more its 2.375. Yet it’s less for redeveloping such old tenements which we call wadas. Also above this TDR is allowed which is 0.60 times the FSI permitted on the plot. But presently due to procedural delays TDR is getting one of the scarcest commodities in real estate. Some where this does lead to increase in costing of the homes.

The city has already grown up as a metro of future & so as our demands of life style from the same. And to fulfill these demands we need man power which in end needs residences. Any city which makes new job opportunities available becomes hot destination for real estate is a fact. And Pune has got IT industry, Production/Auto industry, Education Industry & fast growing service industry. All these industries are need of the city as they provide jobs to thousands in this city & in turn these thousands need homes is a fact. And that too in a reasonable costing along with basic infrastructure like water, drainage, power & transportation. Here we are not even thinking about cultural as well social infra like entertainment, education & medical! It’s this front we are neglecting & that’s why people have reached to the conclusion of curtailing the growth of the city itself! As what’s point in expanding if we are not able to cope up with existing demands. Though it will be suicidal attempt is what my personal opinion. Because for development works we need money & its going to come from the revenue coming from various forms because of new development only. We are not doing anything about increasing taxation of old establishments then from where we are going to raise the money if we ban or curtail new industries, it parks or constructions? Today the development charges as well octroy on various items makes the most of PMC inflow in budget. What will happen to that, have we worked out any alternate source of income? Sadly the answer to my knowledge is a big no!

Let the city prosper & for that we can take examples of similar cities around, how they have coped up with the growing population. Problem is there are enough examples around right from Nagpur to Ahemadabad but are we ready to really adopt such things? FSI may seem to be the issue behind population growth but it’s not the real culprit. For e.g. Hyderabad don’t have the concept like FSI, you can build as much as you can by paying premiums to the local body & following the norms like side margins & parking & yet they don’t have infrastructural problems. Rather as the home prices are in control so more & more companies are choosing that city as option. Similar liberal policies about the FSI have been adopted by many cities & they are not having any problems which we are having even with FSI controls are here.

I think need of the time is to plan properly & plan fast and then execute what you have planned. As the quote says we needs to understand the planning concept before we decide on rules/policies which will stop or curtail our growth or else we will be ending up like the infamous “Shekhchily, who cut down the very branch on which he was sitting”!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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