Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year & fate of the City!







First sign of an idiot is he accepts the fate.. Dostoevsky.

I read this quote in a column by Preetish Nandi in Times on the eve of year ending. For me when you define an idiot there has to be definition of the wise also & it will be something like "A wise is the one who acknowledges the fate but never succumb to it!"  On the ending of a year & start of yet another New Year, let’s see on this scale where our city rulers stand on the front of this city's fate especially from the view of real estate? Because it’s the city which keeps gathering more & more people here for education, for work & it’s the city's rulers as well people related to real estate only who has the responsibility to ensure that these people gets a proper accommodation here as then only the city will grow & not just swell! Well no need to take any time for reaching the outcome here; even a small kid who read few lines of any news paper & can move around the city can tell it! We are idiots & shameless enough not to accept it, rather pretend to be wise!

As I have repeatedly said the city is growing like an orphan, its growing because that is fact & no one to look after it is its fate! See the issues right from the start of the passing year, the new elected body has come in place so first few months went in settling them but what about administration? It’s same for years long now & yet we are unable to locate the problematic zones leave apart acting on them. The DP i.e. infamous Development Plan of extended villages (Now even that term is old) haven’t yet through despite even when the honorable Chief Minister himself has promised about it. The "hill top hill slope" issue is still haunting the entire development plan & we are not wise enough to conclude on any concrete solution even after eight years of DP making. And our rulers have announced rather taken already steps also by issuing GR about acquiring new 28 villages in PMC! What we should call this?

The city traffic is in chaos & we rank number one in road accidents in the country with over 300 deaths & uncountable injured due to same per year. We have more than 20 lacs of private vehicles on road which includes two wheelers & four wheelers. What we should do? Boost our self as rich & developed economy for this or a failure on giving proper solution for our own traffic problems? We required to follow a Bus Day where A to Z dignitaries from the city social circle participated & made statements about strengthening the public transport, what next? The so called Metro was all along the year in news but just like a heroine who is always in news on pg 3 without any of her picture releasing ever! Each day we keep on reading something new about Metro & each day the dream seems going more far off from reality. Well when ever Metro will come we will welcome it but what about present public transport system & the PMPML or BRTS? Nobody is ready to speak or comment what to do till the Metro comes in existence & no one is coming forward to take responsibility of present traffic as well public transport system. The elected members curse civic administration, the administration don't make any statement, the police keep crying about less man force, the NGO's keeps naming everybody & the builders as well people who are making money through the city are busy in their balance sheet! It’s high time that while planning new development in the fringe areas of the city at least the developers should come together from same locality & think of developing their private public transport system for their projects. The city was few years back cycle's city; look at the scene, show me a single cycle track which is in place & usable. There are signages on many footpaths oops cycle tracks saying that they are dedicated cycle tracks but one has to search for actual space for riding a cycle is the fact. What fate we should acknowledge from this? Keep apart the traffic congestion for a while, courtesy over 20 lacs vehicles & public vehicles but what about the pollution they are creating on road & surroundings? We need bigger & wider roads for that & fly over’s too which are challenged by NGO"s as more fly over’s means more vehicles; true in a séance but till the public transport isn't in place we need roads to drive these vehicles to reach at our various destinations within the city. It’s like a fraze in Marathi "Aai jeu deina an bap bhik magu deina" means "mother isn't feeding the child & father isn't allowing him to beg" type situation! Who has stopped administration to make the roads at war level in the acquired villages is a big question to me & why they have to wait till the land lord hands over the land under road widening? Why we are always reactive on such vital front of the city development & not become proactive? Well it’s this attitude which is the fate of this city!

When the issue is of pollution from the exhausts of millions of vehicles, if we can’t control the vehicles at least we can take measures against curtailing this pollution & for that increasing tree cover is the most important factor. Unfortunately we are far behind on that front. Agreed we have progressed a lot on developing gardens in various parts of the city but they are not enough Have a look at present JM road or Ferguson College road, in 90's there were large trees making canopy on either sides of these roads & today its malls & shops & restaurants aligned with parking's on both sides. Same is situation at MG road, Karve road or any major road of the city. We have cut down the trees in the name of infrastructure development but we forgot the importance of trees in the same. Growing big tress & making the lungs of the city stronger is the most important infrastructure of any city which we have ignored totally. And result is city temperature has raised a lot in last few years as well every rainfall brings flash flood as water absorbing capacity of the city is dying because of absence of trees. There are norms for tree cutting as well plantation for new buildings sanctions but where is the check on the entire process? It’s a shame that High Court has intervened the tree cutting permission process & since last two years every single tree cutting permission however legitimate it may be has to be obtained from Honorable High Court! Why? Because our civic body has repeatedly failed to satisfy the High Court's demands for tree census outcome & monitoring the same! Apart from pollution control another important job of these trees was they were home to so many species of birds which are nearly instinct from the city now. Now we saw only pigeons or crows not even sparrows! Here the role of developers is very important as not only they should ensure plantation of biodiversity balancing trees in the new construction as well urge their customer to plant trees in the existing societies also. And the responsibility should not end in just urging the residents but a financial hand also should be given for this cause. As if the city survives the real estate is going to survive is a fact or else we all can see the fate on this front also!

Another topic which has become now a joke in my view is water! We are unable to decide how much quantity of water we need for the city & no one claims that these are the figures & facts & takes its responsibility & we are talking of converting the city in to a major Metro of the country! We are lucky to have nearby 5 dams surrounding Pune & Pimpri-Chinchwad yet we are unable to provide a system which will ensure proper water supply to all parts of the city. We have best technical brains available with budget then what’s the problem? This must be the question in mind of every citizen. We are unable to implement a basic thing like metered water supply despite every wise man has been opted for it. Why just new projects even we don't have a complete factual map of existing grid of the water lines laid years back & that is leading to major water leakages is a known truth which has been accepted by even authorities. What next? Is this accepting the fate of water supply of the city?

Unfortunately when it comes to infrastructure our list starts at traffic & water & ends at traffic & water! We boost to have best sports facility in country in the form of Balewadi Stadium but what's its utility to common citizen of the city? We don't have proper sports facilities in radius of many kilometers in many parts of the city. The administration has acquired many reserved spaces in the form of amenity spaces in newly sanctioned projects, why can’t on war level their uses been defined & these spaces being taken for the development? Many of them are large enough to have good sports facilities & can be helpful for the locality in surrounding of them. A healthy society needs fit youngster's & for that we need to provide them that infrastructure. Here also the role of developers is very important as only giving gym & club house as amenity for selling the project if they pressurize the civic administration for developing the amenity place as sports facility & get the FSI for the same the problem will be solved much faster. Here the developer will say what we can do the PMC makes compulsory acquisition of the reserved amenity space? Well no rule in this country, save those made by British, has been made automatically, not even laws about punishing rape victims! But it took life of the poor girl from Delhi for Govt to rethink the law about crime like Rape, till so many years it’s there but the Govt never thought of improvising it! And we are expecting laws about amenity space to come automatically! Well if it’s our attitude then fate is clear on front of sports culture of the city!

On the same line is the condition of medical & educational facilities in the city. Public health issues like public toilets, garbage, drainage, power supply keeps coming in news turn by turn like a comet & vanishes. Rising slums is another area of concern keeping in mind city's condition, remember no one willingly goes & live in a slum! The problem is this city offers a job for living for all classes of the society but not the home! Affordable housing for every segment of the city now seems to be a mirage( mrugajal). And this is the main reason of rising slums or illegal construction mushrooming all around the city & problems like site accidents & workers safety are the byproduct of it. We are forgetting that just IT Parks or Shopping Malls doesn't mean the city but any city's true face is the basic facilities mentioned above which are more essential in the eyes of a common man. It’s very much important how the city serves to all of its citizen than just few upper calls for whom money isn’t the issue, not all are fortunate like that. Then comes facilities like library's, theaters, museums or art galleries which are getting vanished  from the city. Actually our city's back bone is our culture & what we are doing to conserve the same? Since when you have last heard of a new drama theater or art gallery getting opened in the city? When I came in this city in late 80's in every chowk I could see a library however small it may be but no one has to search for it. This is not a sign of healthy city which boosts itself as cultural capitol of the State! Well if we are fool enough not to see all these writings on the wall then our fate is decided!

All is not lost yet, as I mentioned to change the fate we have to first acknowledge the fate! The city does have many people who are capable of changing the fate, need is to unite & make a strong effort to change that fate. And here role of every individual is equally important as this city has given each of us too many good moments & it’s our time to give the city back something in lieu of them! I think if at all we can acknowledge this responsibility of ours then it will be best New Year gift the city can have & that much the poor thing definitely deserves! So let’s welcome the New Year on this note is all I can say!

--
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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