Friday, October 14, 2011

Our City, Our Devlopment Plan!





“In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built: walking, witnessing, being in public, are as much part of the design and purpose as is being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or love or music. The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship -- around participation in public life.”…Rebecca Solnit.

Well well that goes for the ideal city as by the great planner Rebecca Solnit but when we think about our beloved city has this multidimensional thought been put in planning? In news paper now the term DP i.e. development plan is so many times covered that even a 5 year old who has just started reading to an old man who has on the verge of stopping reading must know the term DP! But how many of them have really understood the term or the reason behind it? For any city the term DP is very much important as its going to decide the future of the very city. Now many a will say what's big deal, has not our Pune city prospered without any such thing & even if there isn't any DP, are the Industries like IT or automobile going to stop coming here? Well the answer is a big YES! They may not stop immediately but without a proper plan of the development of the city the city will refuse to take any additional load & will burst because of the load on the infrastructure like Drainage, Water & road! Many of the things we are already witnessing like numbers of vehicles on the roads. however big road you build if we cant plan a proper public transport system & arrange the city growth in planned manner, the road wont be ever enough for the private vehicles! This is result of not having proper DP or not implementing the same in time.
A Development plan is like a mirror showing future of the city & here you can not blame just one organization like PMC as a DP is multidimensional thing. It covers every segment of the society & it’s expected to contribute. Here I will give you a simple example, few years’ back PMC has announced Rain water harvesting policy to incorporate the same in DP & called for Public suggestions. Can you imagine just one has come & that to of Credai i.e. then PBAP, an association of Pune's builders! This speaks the ignorance of the common people about the subject which is so important of every citizen’s life & then we blame each other for poor life style the city offers! I don't blame for this ignorance to the common citizen as the subject has been never made aware about to them! Here is the failure of the system as its prime job is to make ascertain than the process of making DP goes more & more open & with participation of as many citizens as it can be. Sure on brighter side many NGO's are aware & we have seen the result on the subject of hills & BDP reservations & so is about the public transport but does the DP means just Hills, roads, drainage & water?

Here lies the crux; a city as mentioned in the quote has so many dimensions by virtue of which it’s decided as whether it’s a good city or bad & on its job of every citizen to understand where we are on those standards & not just few points. When we say Pune is growing & next IT hub or education capitol of the country then it has to be reflected on every front of the city then we can really be proud of ourselves.

Along with the greenery & safety the city offers there are very fine infrastructural thing which are a must to make a city a good one to live in. And all such things has to be thought of while planning DP & then to execute the same. Few such we will be discussing here & do mind its not just Pune, when ever any town, city, metro is being planned these are a must subjects. Let’s consider basic five thing apart from the main issues like road network or water or hills & they are  Private bus stops, Garbage bean, Public Toilets, Information centers, & seasonal centers like Phataka shops or even Ganpati or festive pendols!

The city has long back tradition of having private buses for industries carrying the workers to the work place from home. Telco, Bajaj were pioneers in the same & with number of call centers to IT industry to school buses now it’s a parallel public transport system operating private basis. But we don't have any fixed stops or pick up stations for the same. The result is these buses stops randomly anywhere in mid road causing traffic problems. Parking of the same is also an issue. The DP should take cognizance & their importance too & accommodate them.

Then comes the Garbage beans, we all are part of generating garbage in some form but no one wants a garbage bean in their premise. The reason is obvious, it’s the way they are maintained & result is most of the garbage beans are right on roads or blocking the footpaths. This scene we have been seeing now for many years & its a strong need to identify  proper locations for the garbage beans & install a system to see that they don't become a nuisance but serve the purpose for what they have been installed. We can design them in a proper way for this, learning from the mistakes in past.

Public toilets not only for women but even for men are in horrible situation. No sane man will use the facility in this category unless its extreme need & that's failure of the purpose. People don't want them in their vicinity because of the faulty design & the poor maintenance. We should try to think out of the box here. In Dubai the building rules makes it mandatory for every commercial establishment like restaurants or shops to have a toilet facility however small the establishment may be & its open for use to all. This saves the space as well maintenance of making public toilets. Agreed with the kind of population it’s impossible but for the population over 40 millions if we check the numbers of public toilets, it’s sickening & that’s an important aspect of good civic infrastructure the city should offer to its citizens.

When ever you go to places like Singapore you can’t miss the colorful, clean & warm information centers at regular intervals giving every information a tourist or even a citizen will need about the city & services it offers. Recently there have been kiosks of such centers installed on some of the main roads by local authority but it failed on two fronts, one is their very less numbers & other is the kind of service it offers to the visitors. Mostly its poor staffed or equipped & it don't have the information which an outsider or visitor will need. There has to be Internet & all information about important places in city along with a good display of road maps at sale also we can have toilet facility with drinking water fountain here. The DP should make provisions for such centers all around the city.

Pune is very much social & cultural city & that's the back bone of this very city! And its this front which keeps the city buzzing with public activities around the year may it be Ganesh festival or Ramzan or Durga puja, or Vari of Pandharpore in Shravan,all the festivals come along with many social & cultural activities. Come Ganpati & debate starts about the pendols & their nuisance to the road users. Similar is about fire crackers stalls in Diwali which starts occupying  foot paths & roads right from Dasara. Now with years of experience we know the type of such temporary structures & the timing of them so why can’t we try to accommodate them at a permanent location for ever so it will ease out the yearly routine & trouble of all for fixing their positions? Like each year fire crackers shops are installed right of 100' river side road near Mhatre bridge, its not only make the traveling along that road troublesome but its by safety norms also is not advisable to have such hazardous material to be sold in open place like a road!

So many small issues which when collectively placed become a disaster & here is where planning plays vital role i.e. to identify the smaller issues in advance & not allowing them to for a collective effect. As then only our future can be happy & healthy. As the city is growing so is population & so will the problems but that's why DP is so much important for not only the city but for ever citizen of the city & that's why we should try to stand up & express & share our views about the same. Then only we can be proud of being an ideal citizen & can have pride about our city.

--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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