Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green Homes, dream of a loafer!

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing of those woods & making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious & enterprising citizen… Thoreau.

In my blog I have wrote about cities, developments, environment, nature but never about any personality & here is one such who is loafer at heart in Thoreau's definition & it will be unjust if I don't mention him as many of our society's green hopes relies on such loafers & he is Dr Shrikar Pardeshi, Commissioner of Pimpri Chinchvad Municipal Corporation. Many eye brows will be raised as a builder praising an administrator or a bureaucrat that too on environmental aspect! "Bat Kuch Hajam Nahi Hui!"

Well, because of my own loafergiri I do come across many of the officers i.e. bureaucrats working at various organizations but rarely with someone who want not just to change the system but make it work for the cause it has been designed. And I think that is very important because any Govt system has a basic purpose & that is to serve the society or common man in building a better, livable surrounding. We can name that organization in any way according to work jurisdiction for e.g. PMC, PCMC, PMPML, MSEB, Collector, Police etc, all these terms are meant to make life of aam admi more better. And this doesn't mean just to help him in terms of money or subsidies but making the surrounding around him better is the correct way.

And to achieve this purpose there are cadre of various posts who are supposed to see that the system works towards its goal. Without criticizing anybody in person what is the image of this cadre in eyes of common man? You don't have to be a celebrity to comment, any tom & harry will tell majority of the society is unhappy with the people who are occupying these post & reasons may be any but fact remains. On such scene when any individual like Dr.Pardeshi tries to give justice to his chair & that to by understanding the purpose of the chair I think we as society should not only acknowledge but appreciate it by joining his initiatives, that's real support such people need & not just applauds! To start with he has been to USA for studying Urban Living & unlike so many other officers who went abroad for studying various things about civic life & services & when back just forget about them without bothering to showcase to common man what they have even just seen over there! Here is where the difference strike not only this Comm himself tried to adopt so many good governance practices he experienced in country like USA but he himself made a detailed presentation with number of photographs & spend hours to display this presentation to stake holders of the society like developers, architects, ngo's & even his staff at PCMC! He organized a seminar on developing spaces within the city to make the city more beautiful & tried to get all segments of the society on one platform in doing so making them understand its every-bodies city & not just some organization like his!

Many will think I am going overboard in brightening image of our Commissioner but if you are thinking so you are wrong as main course is yet to come! We are day in & day out reading about Eco Housing or Environment Conservation or Green Homes; you call it anything but in the end its Nature Conservation & if nature survives then only we will is a bitter truth which we are conveniently considering as somebody else’s job! Our loafer commissioner not only realized this truth but started fighting for it once again a rare & lone start & what he did is he called in the most dejected segment on this front to join him i.e. the Developers of the city! I myself being a developer can vouch for many of my follows good work on Green Homes but unfortunately never appreciated by the Govt agencies leave apart by the society. One major reason is not many developers are aware on this front & for that I will blame the end user i.e. flat buyers! Many will say its passing the buck game I am playing like all others but I am making this statement with all responsibility & my experience in real estate as well environment! The end use ie the flat purchaser is interested in location of the project, costing, amenities the project is having & appreciation the project will get in terms of investment, that's all1 Green side of the project is last or not even on the agenda on home buying list! How can you blame just developers for not being interested on this front? No doubt one should be self responsible but like the famous sher (poetry) by Galib "Is jamaneme wafa ki ummid karte ho Galib, wo wakt aur tha jub loag pakke hote the aur makan kacche; ab makan pakke hote hai aur loag kachhe" ; In nut shell, who is following things like self discipline or social responsibility that we will expect the developers to do so?

Not that the predecessors of the Commissioner hasn't done anything on the front , there were some efforts but frankly insufficient if you go by the outcome of them. Realizing the scene Commissioner arranged a half day seminar about Green Housing & things related to that which involved NGO's like TERI, NRDC, Developers Organizations CREDAI & MBVP, Architects associations, nearly entire concerned departments of PCMC with town planning & even Media. On 22nd Jan the seminar went through at Auto cluster in PCMC where each of the stake holders represented their front. The Commissioner himself spoke at length explaining the subject & its importance to the entire stake holder & most importantly their respective roles on this front. He commented on the growth of the city & restrictions on resources like water & power at the same time mentioned limitations of PCMC alone to fight the byproduct of the city growth like traffic, deforestation, drainage & garbage. He elaborated the efforts PCMC taking about the same by roping in organizations like TERI & schemes like Griha & Swagriha by which most of the buildings will be rated under green norms. Not only this he told about the benefits the developers will have under the same & the residents of such projects also can avail them. He made a sincere appeal to all especially to the developer for making all future buildings as Green buildings as then only we can face our next generation is what he thinks. He also asked for the difficulties or suggestions the stake holders feel in implementing such norms.

Responding to which Credai an organization of developers made a presentation sharing developer’s side of the green buildings. Main factor is awareness & most developers think applying for green norms or certification is waste of time. Main reason is the time consumed in getting NOC's. The benefits for such projects should not be just subsidy in some premiums but is the project can be given a status like Green Channel in Customs & got all the necessary instant then  for any developer there no more incentive than time saving! Agreed that the present system will never accept that there is time delay in process & they may be true but truth is today not just PCMC but anywhere in our State to get a project sanctioned is most lengthy process causing mental as well financial stress is a truth. So if we want to promote green homes then why not treat the maker as special? This question was put forward by the developers. Then the norms should be practical as well clear for eg we want Drainage treatment plant but we don't allow them in margins or open spaces or amenity spaces & things like that. We don't know what is exactly rain water harvesting is & how to certify that it has been implemented successfully? The policies of different departments act against each other which in fact should work parallel & in only one direction i.e. Green Homes. The MSEB i.e. MSDCL gives free electricity to agriculture but charges at commercial rate to Water Recycling Plants making them non-viable, such are the examples of miss-communication between various Govt bodies involved on the front of Green Homes. A suggestion of forming a committee with representative from each stake holder & which will monitor such issues was made which the Commissioner accepted immediately. A list of such projects registered under the certification should be displayed on portal of PCMC as well list of the consultants needs to be shortlisted & informed to the developers so they can avail their services. Also suggestions were made for giving direct & immediate benefits to the residents of green buildings, as an incentive delayed is incentive denied in actual!

Then the presentation was made by NGO's covering details of such certification process & their assistance which can be availed by the developers interested in making their building green. The architect association also presented their views about making necessary changes in the bylaws so they can accommodate green initiatives in the new projects. It was a great effort in all & hopefully will be taken as first step for a long journey ahead by all stake holders towards the common goal; as the city is not just Builders or PCMC or NGO's or Media but we are just some supporting pillars of the city which is made by every living  soul in the city including the birds & animals & trees which are also very much part of the city & have equal right in space.

As the Thoreau said we need more & more loafers like this Commissioner here & not just the enterprises & industrialists; if only we want to face our future generation with pride & smile or else the writing is written on the wall very clearly & we will be the fools not to read it! And then surely the Green Home won't be just the dream of a loafer but a reality for all!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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