Sunday, September 15, 2013

Amenity Space or Dumping Space!

“A city is not an accident but the result of coherent visions and aims.”….Leon Krier

Léon Krier is an architect, architectural theorist and urban planner. He is one of the first and most prominent critics of the architectural modernism, mainly of its functional zoning and the ensuring sub urbanism, campaigning for the reconstruction of the traditional European city model. These ideas had a great influence on the new urban development, both in the USA and Europe. And look at the simplest way he has described a complex term like City! Unfortunately our country especially the so called Metros in the country seems to turn a blind eye on such wise around the world about urban planning.

What I like of being an engineer as well developer is, despite all the negative comments about the profession I am in, is there are so many things happening around with real estate that if you keep your mind open then it’s never get bored with my routine! Recently I came across two headlines about urban development, one was about following Singapore pattern for city’s development & it was in reference to Hon Urban Development Minister of Country, who said they will try to follow what Singapore has done! Very good dream but there is a difference between dream & aim! We mostly end up just dreaming & not aiming is what I have observed about such statements!

Well what happens at central Ministry level is too far from our Pune city, so let’s focus on second news, which was about using of Amenity spaces for storage of materials confiscated during encroachment action by our PMC. In short words making them dumping yards!  Many will wonder what significance of this news is & how does it matters to city planning & things like that? For that we will have to understand the concept or the term Amenity Space & then we will realize its importance in city planning. An Amenity Space means an area composed of on-site, common or private, indoor or outdoor space, designed for active or passive recreational use. In simpler words it is a space i.e. piece of land which is restricted for use to build infrastructural buildings for large residential, commercial or public use projects. Its area which can be used for activities which can be of use to the society or surrounding locality, means Post office, Hospital, Market or Fire Brigade Office or a School & the list is long. Any city requires many establishments for its day to day needs & as the city keeps growing the needs to grows. Land is most scarce commodity in today’s urban life so it is very important to put every available piece of land for proper use. Keeping in this aspect in mind PMC has made it mandatory for any development on land ad-measuring more than 40,000sq ft in extended boundaries, to have 15% of such land reserved as Amenity Space. And this land developer has to hand over to PMC which eventually was or is supposed to use it for the above mentioned purposes. In a way a great thought but somehow on one side it unjust with the developer as he has to give part of his land & not getting TDR for that portion also the space for FSI utilization gets reduced, which eventually becomes loading on the remaining land. More over the developer has to build a compound wall around this space & has to make such entry on 7/12 on PMC's name for ownership of the said land! Joke is on old or existing PMC limit this wasn’t or isn’t the requirement unless the land is more than approximately 3,00,000 sq ft i.e. 3 hectors! Which is right in a way as when the development plan wasn’t ready this course of action was right, so as the new area will have enough spaces for amenity purpose but once development plan for this new area is in place I don’t understand what’s the need of taking Amenity Space from every piece of land? As Development plan does have all the necessary reservations for such infrastructure requirements of the city!

Any ways there is no argument in front of Govt so let’s stick to the fact of giving 15% of land for Amenity Space but then whose responsibility is It to see that these spaces gets used for the purposes they have been kept for? Joke is till now hundreds of such Amenity Spaces are already in possession of PMC & yet to my knowledge hardly any space has been actually put in use for any such building.

And now we read the news that some of such spaces will be used by PMC to dump the material from Encroachment action which PMC takes against illegal traders on roads! Well nothing wrong as its PMC’s owned space & they can use it but had the rulers thought that its  Public ownership & the use should be strictly done keeping that front in mind! We all know how the dumping of such material is done & how filthy & shabby such dump yards eventually becomes! Was this meant while acquiring Amenity Spaces? Who will be responsible for the disturbance which the surrounding residents around such dumping yards will face? And why no leaders in the PMC raise any voice for putting such spaces for the use they have been reserved for? On one hand Govt cries foul for not having enough money for infrastructural projects & on other hand they have millions of rupees worth land in possession which are being used for dumping material!

When our rulers can hurriedly decide to use the reserved land for such useless purposes then agreed, they have power & authority to do so but then why not use the same power & authority for utilizing the land for many good purposes? This is the question which comes to a common man like me. Right now the city is lacking on many basic infrastructural fronts, for e.g. right from parking of  PMPML busses which presently at night are parked all along the roads to good medical facilities across the city for the needy ones, many things this city needs & on urgent basis. Why can’t PMC publish the proposed plan for development of all the Amenity Spaces in its possession & start developing it with the concerned developer itself? They can pay him directly or pay in form of TDR for such construction. This will at least ensure the proper use of the Amenity Space as well the city will get much needed infrastructural facilities also!

And this issue is very closely related to prices of real estate also, because home prices where all the infrastructure is developed are very high & if we can utilize all the Amenity Spaces for proper purpose then a balanced well distributed social infrastructure will get developed all over the city; eventually helping the prices of homes in & around the city also getting affordable to common man. And for this there has to be strong awareness as well voice raising from all the segment of the society, so as our rulers will have to listen it & do something good about use of Amenity Spaces & do it fast! As Krier has said a good city isn’t accident but outcome of a planned effort & every one of us has a responsibility towards that effort to make it a good city or else we don’t deserve to be citizen of our beloved city! 

Remember today it’s Amenity Space, tomorrow the whole city will become just a dumping place & then it will be too late & we will have to blame ourselves only for that outcome!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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