Wednesday, October 31, 2012

DP, Builders & the City!

A true test of civilization is, not the census nor the size of the city, but the kind of the man the city turns out... Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Well well we in Pune may be calling us proudly civilized or cultural capitol of the State; but when it comes to analyze a problem & reach to the solution we surely don’t deserve the honor which think is ours! Sometimes going through the statements or quotes of the personalities in the city I wonder is being a builder crime here? I build homes for the people in this city which are or going to be part of civilization of the very society, is it a offense? It seems so for many or else the current affair i.e. DP i.e. Development Plan of the old city would not have been tagged as hijacked by builders & things like that! After a long wait finally the DP has seen the day light & along journey is ahead; it’s just presented after clearance from City Improvement Committee of PMC. Whatever administration has taken efforts are all in vain as the suggestions are being said to be only in favor of the builders. A reader who is not knowing the back ground of the city development in past will think the DP of this city is being made by the Builders only! Such are the news headlines& quotation from NGO's or celebrities of the city. I am never against NGO's they are essential part of the society & have worked with many by myself. Yet the balance has to be there when the subject is as important as DP of cit; because in a way its future of our city we are talking about & not some individual entity!

To start with the criticism which is in general about the whole DP is it revolves around FSI is floor space index which is deciding factor of how much construction area can be build on a particular plot.
And it’s being blamed as the FSI has been increased liberally which will imbalance the city civic infrastructure such as drainage, water supply & traffic. Well last so many years the city is growing & on one side we are continuously criticizing about the scarcity of homes affordable to all classes. The prices of the homes are sky rocketing & main reason of that is non availability of land. We can’t create land is a fact all we can do is increase the potential of the land to create maximum home out of the same. I don’t say to increase the FSI is the only way but other is expanding the city limits & we all are witnessing the fiasco on that front. We haven’t been able to freeze the DP of the existing extended boundaries yet & provide them all the infrastructural facilities & we are in process of expanding further more! Isn’t it will be wise instead focus on what is in hand?

And for that let’s understand the process of DP making. The city administration involving engineers & planners under the head of City Engineer studies the earlier DP & its implementation during its life span which is more than 20 years in our case. Then they go through the lacuna's in the same & reasons. All the policies which has been there till today are analyzed & discussed over. Then only the new policies are decided about making residential areas as well FSI. And then the infrastructure required for this additional population is worked out & provisions are made to accommodate the same. This DP is made considering 20 years time span of future now let’s remember whatever FSI has been decided its keeping in mind the need of homes this city will have in coming 20 years & if not now when we will be making the needful policies? The logic isn’t restricted to just residential units but the city needs hotel accommodation, school premise, hospitals & many such buildings which are indirectly part of infrastructure serving the citizen of this very city only. And once agreed we can’t create the land from where we will be providing these services to the citizens?

Now after the administration is through with the DP it’s tabled in front of city improvement committee which is having elected members on the same. There also the members questions administration over each & every aspect of the DP & suggests their opinions about the same. After incorporating their suggestions whatever possible the DP goes to General Body i.e. main House of the PMC where it’s open to discussion for all elected members of the PMC. That’s the stage right now our DP is in. Here after clearing from GB suggestion objection from the people also are invited & hearings conducted on the same. Then only the DP goes to Urban Development Dept of State Govt for State Govt's clearance where Town planning Dept studies the DP & gives their suggestions objections & after going through all this process the Sate Govt clears the DP which is then published officially & comes in ruling for implementation & plans are sanctioned accordingly.

Had the builders been allowed to play any major role then the FSI would have been increased long back but unfortunately we think FSI is the only dimension of the DP where as in actual that is just one of the many dimensions of the DP! I am not writing this to project good image of the builders. There may be lacuna's in the DP but do remember that out of 145 elected members of PMC most are some way or other related to real estate industry & that’s no fault of a common builder! By any way if somebody is trying to compromise the essential reservations for increasing residential area that is wrong & can’t be justified but lets analyze the DP with open eyes. The city has seen tremendous growth in the tenure of past DP & defeating the very purpose of the same is a bitter truth. Here I will like to draw attention to planning attitude of VT i.e. Victoria Terminal which is now CST is Chatrapati Shivaji Terminal in Mumbai. It’s been planned & built nearly 100 years back when population of Mumbai was hardly touching 10 odd lacs yet its planned in such a way that it is serving even toady's population of Mumbai which is above 1 crore! Had the engineers & planners have been blamed at that time saying it’s just feel the pockets of the contractors for spending so much unnecessarily then today’s CST wouldn’t have been in existence & we can imagine the havoc Mumbai would have been having due to less space for CST!

Let’s understand FSI is just part of infrastructure & give that much importance only to this aspect of the DP. Right now all the hohalllah is being made in such a way that common man will think DP means FSI! Agreed there are many important issues which need to be looked in with liberal FSI policy such as capacity of today’s physical as well social infrastructure & how it has been tackled in the DP. Whether there is enough provision made to accommodate this burden & if yes how it will be implemented. Why it’s not being done in past is the question which will be raised by many, mostly NGO's & I won’t say they are wrong here. We have seen serious flaws in infrastructure planning & execution & we have suffered, are suffering for the same. The recent water cuts are the tip of iceberg as we have failed to understand the exact need of basic thing like water & unable to make provision for the same. Same is true for public transport & result is roads are flooded with private vehicles. Even the schools are not having adequate class rooms or infrastructure to serve more number of students & medical services scene is worst! We need more hospitals which will provide good service at affordable costs & for that they will need space available at affordable rate or else the overheads won’t allow them to provide such service.

Another major aspect is income of the city i.e. from where we are going to get the money which will fund all these infrastructural activities? It’s  going to be a major concern, especially now, when the Octroy which is the major source of income till today won’t be there. The money can be generated from development charges as well premiums & property taxes of these new coming buildings which will be more with the added FSI, is one of logic.

Here many will say what guaranty the civic administration gives that all this dream will come true with such provisions about FSI liberalization & at what cost is yes? A very valid question; here is where the policy is important & not just FSI ratio. There has to be conditions & a system which will govern this whole process till end means controlling the outcome for which the policy has been made. Here is where the role of Media , NGO's & every Common Man in the city comes in picture. Why we have to shout & get awake only at the time of making DP? What we have been doing when the past DP was there getting failed repeatedly for all these years? These are the questions I will like to ask instead just criticizing the DP as builders DP! And lastly it’s high time to decide what we want for the citizen of this city & how we are going achieve what we want? A common man wants very small & basic things for his living & they are a home of his own which he can afford & a peaceful living for his family. And it’s this common man who should be focus of the entire DP & that’s duty of each of us to ascertain the same! Then only I will say the DP has been at mark may it’s be a Builder’s DP or anybodies!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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