Sunday, November 3, 2013

HighCourt, Illegal Constructions & Real Estate!

When the President does it, that means that it's not illegal….Richard M. Nixon

Words by the infamous Richard M. Nixon, who was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974, when he became the only president to resign the office for the “Watergate” scandal. And on one side if the above word by him speaks about the arrogance of the rulers for their powers to rule the Country or State, at the same time let’s not ignore the irony of the fate which Mr. Nixon met as a President!

Though most of our Indian Rulers seems to take the verbal part of the infamous US President or else if you have been reading the recent newspapers’ you wouldn’t have missed headlines about illegal construction & the battle going against them. Joke is the battle is by our Judicial System with the ruling Govt, such the condition of our so called number of  construction or real estate governing bodies all over the State! In our previous many meets in this column I have named the numbers of Govt Depts/ Bodies who are supposed to control the construction of various types of buildings. In the Pune city as well surrounding itself there are two Municipal corporations, three Cantonments, one Development Authority & then Collector itself with assistance of Town Planning! Off course then there is in queue the famous most awaited planning brain child of all i.e. Pune Regional Development Control Authority, which even God won’t know when will come in existence!

The scene regarding illegal constructions is same all around the State but let’s focus to our beloved city i.e. Pune. With so many governing bodies yet what we see, over one lac numbers of illegal structures only in PCMC & that’s the figure as per filed by the officers only. No such record has yet been published by Collector or PMC yet approximately 4 years back I have been part of the committee which has been invited by the collector then, for a presentation about reformation in working at collector office as well challenges in front of the system. Then only in few survey numbers of Ambegoan, a southern city part, was having more that hundred illegal structures is what collector himself has admitted! Imagine what must have been figure all around the collector’s jurisdiction! Cantonments were never famous for their town or city planning scheme so lesser we speak about them is better.

And then there was news very recently in media about High Court asking Govt to provide separate courts as well police stations to control illegal constructions! Sometimes I really pity Indian Courts & Judges, how frustrated they must be feeling against shameless officials & rulers, as first these people allow the illegal construction to prosper & then they don't give any machinery or support to remove the same but use all their power to regularize any such construction! Because with repeated warnings by various courts yet hardly few illegal structures have been demolished is a fact & more over now we are hearing the news that State Govt is going to regularize all illegal constructions till March 13! A common man like me is bound to think, why to make such phrase of regularizing illegal constructions till this or that date, let’s remove all rules & regulations & make this State a free port, no rules & regulations will be there for housing industry! Why to bother all the system to make rules & then change them to accommodate the illegal structures, waste time of judicially & so many man hours! It will sort out all such problems of law & enforcement, let everybody build as per his wish & will instead making mockery of the rules & laws. Why waste time in organizing seminars & discussions about urbanization & city planning & issues like that when at the end all structures are coming on same platform! In one such seminar about urbanization & its problems, recently one of the senior minister of State warned the ruling Govt itself of which he also is a part, about threat from illegal structures! I really appreciate the courage of our politicians to make public statements about encroachment, illegality, wrong policies & thrash their own Govt! And people are also fool enough to accept them & clap over such statements, issue is who has stopped these rulers to put the foot down & stop all illegality! Why can’t such leaders order their respective department to take strong action on any encroachments instead making such statements in some seminar! And take same stand in cabinet meetings where the policies are laid! Rather on one side rulers are making such false statement on public forum for gaining popularity & on other side every ruling party is busy in proving how demolishing of illegal structures will be harming the interest of so called innocent common man & at the same time every Municipal Corporation is crying over no support by police force for taking action on illegal constructions, is a fact. What one should conclude from such behavior pattern of the rulers?

Years after years are passing & the simplest thing like publishing & sanctioning of city development plan & issues like BDP i.e. bio diversity parks reservations over hills we can’t finalize & we speak about curbing encroachments & illegal construction! We are unable to provide very basic infrastructure like water, power, hygiene & education in villages or small towns & then there are no jobs. So millions are moving to bigger cities or Metros making them buckle by this migration & we are not doing anything either to improve or control this growth or we are not doing anything to stop this migration towards Metros. Agreed we are one country & the constitutional right allows every citizen of this country to choose his place to work & live. But isn’t it important that why millions choose to migrate at some particular place only & what will be condition of such places after few years if the migration continues with this pace? It’s this migration which is the main cause of the illegal construction & encroachments over public lands, is the Govt so fool to understand which even a ten year boy can tell!  

There is  a set channel for systematic encroachments now i.e. first install hutments on public reservation lands or private places which are hill top hill slopes or no development type zones. Provide them all basic infrastructural things like water, power, roads, public toilets (however bad shape they may be in) & then regularize them as declared slum & then under slum development start SRA i.e. slum rehabilitation authority project over there. Or else build regular projects in non development  areas without any permission & then when they get occupied & the third party interest has been created by flat holders living in such buildings, again regularize them under the name of innocent citizens interest! No doubt they are innocent as they don’t have enough money to buy a home at a builder who builds with all due permissions on a legal title clear land, whose project rates are obliviously costly than illegal one. But then again two questions, first why legal structures are costlier than illegal constructions & how the illegal constructions get build in first place when there are so many controlling authorities around? Well second question is for media & reporters to dig for, what we need to work out is on first question i.e. making the system which will make available cheaper legal homes to real needy ones. As infrastructure is the key for any human settlement & naturally where things like water, roads, power are available easily in comparison to other places, lands in such cities are bound to get scarce, making those most sought after commodity. Obviously rates of such lands goes sky rocketing & this has been happening in all Metros, Cities & even Towns of the State as well Country.

All that Govt has to do is work on improving basic infrastructure & that will balance the migration automatically but who cares, that’s the problem! And for that we need to plan every inch of available land in proper way & plan it fast. So that ample land will be available for development reducing land cost which is the biggest factor in present costing of a ready home. And then lay a system which will reduce time of obtaining hundreds of permissions for a legal construction so more & more good people can come in real estate & innocent citizen of this city would not have require to go & buy their home with some illegal entity.

In way illegal structures is a black spot i.e. “kala daag” in Hindi, on the face of entire real estate. As its some builder only who in hest of making money plays with the life of thousands with help of the system & builds illegal structures, selling it in cheaper rate & fooling few people. But the entire industry gets held responsible & result is the current image of builders. Anywhere anything goes wrong about city or issue of illegal construction, everybody from media screams foul game by the builders! Actually there are two types of builders, one who honestly tries to build their product following every legal norm possible & another who puts every law tied down at hanger along with buying the system & build his illegal homes. Obviously it’s up to the customer whom they should buy from; agreed it’s easy to say but for a real needy family where budgets are very tight they surrender to the limitations of finance & go to the illegal guy for their home dream. Here role of rulers come in picture which includes every political parties as it’s their vote bank indirectly & then here the point of innocent citizen comes forward & the limit of regularizing illegal constructions keep on getting increased! Unfortunate that in all this its the common man who is victim of all the conspiracy of every segment related to the topic & its his future which hung at stake where as all concerned make money & fly off! This somewhere the common man also should think while buying his home & be a bit more aware though as I have mentioned above, limited budget & the need of owning a home makes  mans common sense blind!

It’s high time the genuine people in real estate also raise the voice about this cancer of illegal. And for that we also need to analyze & act about our own working ways including curbing profit margins & instead building for just the greedy ones, with so called luxuries’ of life, try to build for needy ones! Or else one day this cancer will eat up entire real estate industry & somewhere we, our self will be responsible for ending our own future!
.Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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