Monday, July 9, 2012

Expanding Bounderies of a City!




A plan is a list of actions arranged in whatever sequence is thought likely to achieve an objective… John Argenti


I wish this our city rulers understand & grasp is what come to my mind when I read the news making head lines about a subject as important as merging of adjoining villages in Municipal Corporation! First of all here one needs to understand the scenario on the horizon as a common man does get fooled up by controversial statements by all parties on the topic. Many will say what it has to take with real estate, what difference it makes whether any area lies in PMC or out of it?  As we keep on hearing that it will be advantageous to some political party & dissadventageous to other, have we thought what’s in benefit of the city as well the residents we are talking about? Well for that we need to understand the administrative structure of the system which controls development of the city & area adjoining to it. In 1995 the decision was taken to merge nearly 23 adjoining villages in PMC & then at end only 15 villages were taken making the present area of PMC as 243 sq km. And now the proposal has been put to acquire these villages again which has been demerged in 2001 with which the area of PMC will become more than 400 sq km, which will be at par with the cities of its size i.e. Ahmadabad or Bangalore, even Mumbai is 425 sq km. Its not just the area we are speaking about its the way we will be serving the area which we are acquiring. Here is where the administration controls come in the picture. Presently the area which we call PMC or Pune Municipal Corporation, here the governing body is PMC which has a structured system of administration & a budget to back up the basic infrastructure works which are essential to make the living of citizen comfortable. It includes basic things like water, drainage, roads, education etc. Here again many a will say is the PMC really giving it to the citizens? Well, there always will be some unsatisfied souls but those who want the answer they should visit adjoing areas of PMC & the visit will itself answer their question. Nothing wrong, it’s just the villages just don’t have a system to provide them the infrastructure. Grampanchayt’s who are supposed to take care of these basic infrastructure don’t have any such system. They are dependent on Zillah Parishads where funding is a constant problem & they too don’t have any engineering or planning department as in turn they are dependent on PWD i.e. Public Works Department, water supply & drainage is supposed to be done via Jeewan Pradhikarn & the overall control is with Collector for revenue matters & planning authority for these areas is Town Planning Department! Hussh, such is the maze of departments tangeled in each other workings in the system! Now you will understand the hurdles in development of the Villages in comparison to Municipal Corporation.

Since long the villages adjoining to the city were existing, not having any of such problems but in last decade the city lands started getting filled up with the buildings & slowly the boundaries between the main city & these villages started melting on site physically if not on record or on papers. For record purpose some land may be in village but on site it’s difficult to differentiate it away from the adjoining city. Gone are the days when you could identify the clear visual difference between city & village area. Now Baner & Balewadi & Sus have become look one single suburb, whereas record wise Baner & Balewadi are in PMC limit & Sus is in Collector limit & is a separate village ruled by Grampanchayat. Similar things have been happening on all the sides of Pune. And this phenomenon is common around all Municipal Corporations across the State. Basically the system of Grampanchayt has not been designed to take load of this urban growth. Things like Regional Plan are there covering basic road net work etc but like Development Plan in Municipal Corporations they are not done at micro level & there isn't any target to implement the same. So on one hand there are numbers of buildings coming up in village areas adjoining to the city limit yet there are not even very primary facilities like good widened roads or drainage lines or water storage tanks; leave apart recreational facilities or gardens! Nothing wrong in the Grampanchayat functioning, after all this system is there since British Raj & was running fine till 90’s & still running in areas away from Metro’s all over the country. It was fine till the villages were small settlements where land wasn’t a problem,  population was limited & most citizen were depending on farming for their live-hood this system was comfortable to take their daily need. But as the villages started getting merged physically with the cities & got development like a town even a Metro like in Pune the limitations of the system started getting exposed.

Here the conflicts started as there was basic social as well cultural difference in the setting of the two development. Many of the villagers feel that they will loose their identity if their village gets merged in Municipal Corporation. A Municipal Corporation on other hand has a much defined set up where all the infrastructural activities are being carried out under one roof & public body governs it which has got representation from all the classes of the society or at least that's what is supposed to be! Not only this but is one major aspect i.e. revenue generation as all these infrastructural activities needs huge amount of money. And in Municipal Corporation this revenue is being generated in form of Octroy, various Development Charges as well the Property Taxes which are being collected at one central place & utilized via annual budget. Again there is new avenue of funding in form of JNNURM i.e. Jawaharlal Neharu National Urban Rehabbitation Mission by virtue of which Municipal Corporations get huge funding for building up infrastructure in their jurisdiction from central Union Govt. Then there are sources like World Bank finance & even Private Public partnership projects.

All above things makes development possible in Municipal Corporation area much faster in comparison to Grampanchyat ruled villages. Now what difference this will make to real estate of the city is the question? Well in simple words there will be more land available where infrastructure will be in place making more options available on home front for the needy ones. This may lower down the demand in particular areas within existing Municipal limits & lowering the prices which are going sky high with each passing day. Day by day lands with infrastructure backing are getting scarce & yet the city is growing so instead of having thousands of homes where no proper social or physical infrastructure is available there can be at least hope for having more good quality homes. This is possible only if the Municipal Corporation boundary gets increased covering more area under its jurisdiction. I am not an expert or authority to comment whether merging of adjoining villages is right or wrong, all I can do is analyze the scenario & put forward the facts. Then again many will ask why in first place the villages were demerged from PMC? Well this column isn’t for political views as such decisions are being taken in our country not just keeping in mind city or citizens but for the sake of having control in ruling the system is an unfortunate fact.

Urbanization is world-wide a fact, especially in developing country like ours its happening more fast & in such times the rulers need to provide a system which will take proper care of this urbanization. And as the quote says for that we have to plan & put a system in place in the form of a ruling body, call it Grampanchyat or Corporation; tag isn’t important but the purpose for which the body has been formed definitely is!

--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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1 comment:

  1. Very well said, We need to put the system in place and it can not be done in traditional way, we need to put ICT and other emerging trends towards the solution like what Guru is trying: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/04/business/ibm-takes-smarter-cities-concept-to-rio-de-janeiro.html?pagewanted=all

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