Thursday, April 18, 2013

DP, deciding fate of the city!

All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work...Calvin Coolidge

How important these lines are especially when we are defining or forecasting development of a city like Pune which has a long standing history & culture which very few cities in the country has. Obvious the essence of the statement is the DP i.e. Development Plan of the city which has been published & open for suggestion/objection of the stake holders. Many will say whats they have to do with it? Isn't it like a cricket or football match which has been already fixed by builders, politicians or civic body officials? And apart from it what difference it makes if whatever DP gets finalised? I don't blame these remarks as I have seen them coming even from educated ones also. Rather most are not even aware that any such procedures are followed where any citizen of this city can suggest his ideas about provisions made in DP or object whatever has been published! Even those who have been going to be affected are ignorant about the DP & its making, such is the scene of this so called education capitol of the east & its people about the thing which is going to define the future of their coming generations!

For this we have to understand what is a DP? DP ie development plan & is a process carried out after every 20 years  which defines the course of the growth of the city for coming 20 years. It covers basic infrastructure like public transport & roads, drainage, water & along with many other things which are a must for a good city life. Such as recreation which includes theaters, parks, gardens & public health, eduction & the list goes on. It is a plan as well agenda in actual to execute the plan & the span expands over the coming 20 years ie a generation to pass by during its tenure. And that's why whatever we will freeze today will be faith of the city for coming 20 years. These 20 years are very important as in last two DP's ie in approximately 40 years the city has sen many changes; from the identity of pensioner's city & bicycle's city, it has become IT hub & now the travel will be towards becoming Metro. But in the process a lot has been sacrificed & we all have witnessed it. The needs of the city have changed & bicycles have been replaced by two wheelers & four wheelers. Gone are the days of calm & quite mornings & equally calm evening, now its all chaos & rush to reach work place, schools right from early morning hours. The streets are never empty except very late hours & night & hardly for 2-3 hours that too. The population has been increased in multi folds & still growing. We need to accommodate all this & coming new migrants. Despite all such problems the city still draws thousand each year as they feel there is prospect here & its true. The city offer probably best education in the country & jobs are there. From IT to automobile to education & service industry , they all need good technical man power which is the backbone of growth of real estate of the city.

This all is very much dependent on DP as that's what is going to make city better. The city as I have always said, its the life which the city offers decides the city is good or bad, so its very important to plan the city for coming challenges & that work can be done through properly drafted DP only. However technically competent people may have engaged in making of DP yet they are not God neither they claim so. Obviously there can be many dimensions the DP can be improved in & these dimensions are expected to come from all segments of the society, that's why suggestion objection are being called from citizens. Unfortunate part is most of the people are ignorant just like they are about the voting & even the affected ones are not bothered to study the contents of the DP. Its been put on web site pf PMC as well large size printouts are being displayed in the PMC main building for viewing of the people.

Now again many will ask what difference its going to be? Well, my answer is why you vote for? This is your only chance to participate in your own city development & its worth giving a try. Many things are there which we can do. Those whose property or existing buildings have been affected by some reservation can suggest alternate or if you observe any reservation for public use which was there in earlier DP & now been omitted or changed the purpose then you can object. Similarly what has been observed in this DP is mostly all existing roads have been widened  & agreed that will make more space for ever increasing traffic but at the same time it means destruction of large number of trees which are presently along the existing boundaries of the roads. And we all know once a tree is cut its rarely replaced by new tree & apart from it a new tree takes years to give the shade & greenery which the existing tree is giving now. A threat is this will make the city baron! And if we don't cut the tree then whats the use of widening the road. Basically is it required to increase all road widths, I feel only the main & major roads should be increased as its not true that just increasing road width the traffic scene will improve. We need to strengthen the public transport which will be the proper solution. Instead at many places the PMPML ie public transport's reservation have been converted in residential zones is the information. Similar things have been happened about educational as well garden & play area reservations which are equally essential for the city.

As a common citizen one thing I couldn't understand is there should be increase in numbers & purposes of the reservations instead omitting the existing reservations as then whats the use of existing DP if we are not going to follow it. As it also means that after 20 years reservations shown in this DP will also be omitted if not executed accordingly! So whats important is whatever we are proposing in this DP should be made rational so it can be executed with our resources. It has been now a fact that the existing DP has been executed only 35% , mean in last 20 years we could hardly utilize the reserved places which has been proposed in the DP just 35%. Imagine the city is living on hardly 35% of what is essential & coming years will be more difficult with increase in population & same space for this population as we cant increase the land. The DP should be backed by proper land acquisition laws & at times forceful acquisition powers should be utilized for reservations. As no person will like to surrender his/her land for any reservation but then if he is getting enough compensation for the same why he will object? But if that's not going to happen the the land acquisition for the reservations will be a big problem defeating the purpose of DP. For example in Patwardhan baug area current plat rates are nearly 7000/- per sft & if we say are giving TDR i.e. transfer of devlopment rights, to the land-lord whose land is coming under some reservation, he wont agree as TDR rate is 3000/- per sft, so why he will accept the TDR? I think the administration should think of such cases. 
Similarly in Green belts which are lungs of the city there only 4% build-able is allowed that too if the plat is more than 40000sft, making it non viable to maintain the land for the people who have smaller size plots. in such cases they are going to start miss use of the land like illegal structures or godowns or parking type uses which will be defeating again the cause of making the land green.

There are so many such cases & you need not have to be an engineer or town planner for understanding such things, as these are common sense. One more thing you also need not have to be actually affected party for suggestions or objections as you are very much party to the DP by being citizen of this city & its high time that we all should understand our responsibility in this process of city planning. Or else in coming years we will not have any moral right to criticize for the down fall of the city. Just the way the Superstar Rajnikant says, " Mind It !"

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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