Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hon PM Sir, You Too!

“My own recipe for world peace is a bit of land for everyone.”…Gladys Taber

Gladys Bagg Taber, author of 59 books, including the Still-meadow books, and columnist for Ladies' Home Journal and Family Circle. She used to teach creative writing at Columbia Varsity! While reading her quote I felt like I am listening words of our great PM as he too has put forward vision a step ahead than Gladys i.e. home for everyone! Indeed a noble thought as out of one twenty crore Indians I guess nearly eighty percent are homeless or don’t have a decent home to live! This is my guess from my exposure to real estate as to my knowledge no exact such figure exists & as the real estate lacks on data that too on Country level, it’s just a guess work of the figures for most of the fronts related to real estate! So on 25th June was in a way historic for urban India; as though there were plans & schemes for cities of the country yet probably for the first time our country’s top bosses have accepted importance of proper well planned cities & announced a focused plan backed up by funding for the urban India. What exactly the schemes are will be published soon like "Amrit" which is for mid level cities with population above one lac & the hyped smart cities concept which has a provision of Rs 100 crores per year for the cities which will be selected under this scheme! So one can say “achee din” are on cards for the cities now!    

But in doing so, Hon PM lashed out on builders saying, ”For years the builders have lynched the millions of home seekers of this country & in the process all planning of the cities has been controlled by the builders & this won’t be allowed here after! The public (read as aam janata) only will control the development & housing related policies of the cities!” Well, there seems to be a fashion with politicians to lash out on builders on public dais & I thought our PM at least would be an exception as he comes from a region where every business is respected but he too didn’t spared builders! Though I was surprised to know the power of my own community that we control every housing related policy in this country, wow sweet surprise it was indeed! Before going in to details of what our PM meant or what he wants to make the change let’s have a look at the scene in Urban India; as why such sudden need of housing the rulers started realizing, then we can come back to the policies regarding housing & who controls it! Our country really amazes me many times, especially about our attitude towards certain industries; look at this, the govt advertises against all sort of tobacco as well alcohol consumption & yet it enjoys huge revenues from the taxes on these products instead banning such products production! Same way every govt officer & ruler criticizes builders & real estate, yet the govt gets benefitted maximum from all sorts of taxes on real estate & the very govt neither takes any action against any such builder who they call is building illegally & not giving good service to the customers nor against any such illegal buildings! Who has stopped govt from taking action against such builders & still all  the rulers & media claims builders are the main reason of making every crime related to the real estate & deterioration of urban India; well well, who we are fooling here but our own selves!

Announcement of schemes like Amrit & Smart Cities is very important step in many ways though as I am not in favor or in oppose of any political party yet somehow the past rulers have never acknowledges leave apart meeting the needs of urban India. In nearly seventy years after independence most of the population has shifted in cities mainly in Metros like Mumbai or Delhi. The govt neither gave any thought why this shifting is happening nor did anything to stop the migration. Here two fold solution was requires in actual; one is create a cause or conditions for the people who were living in villages or towns so that they didn’t need to leave their home towns & second brace i.e. prepare the Metros or bigger cities for this migration!  Effect was the bigger cities just swelled under the pressure of the migrants & now are on the verge of collapse due to lack of infrastructure & on other hand the smaller villages & towns local public bodies like gram panchayts & nagar parishads are on the verge of bank corrupsy because of no source of income to make them sustain the demands of the residents! Let’s take example of this State of ours which we proudly call as one of the progressive States of the country; today if you visit any small town or a village & look at the infrastructure then what we see? No drinking water supply, no public drainage system, no public transport, no electricity (I meant load shading, as electric poles are there but no power), medical facilities as well education facilities are ill maintained mostly understaffed & roads are main target of whats app jokes! This is about physical infrastructure & as its missing or poor so no Industries comes here so no jobs are here & as most of the agriculture is rain fall or nature dependant so the changed weather pattern has ruined farmers of agro based professions! Result is millions have to leave their home land & migrate to adjoin or nearby bigger cities like Pune, Nasik or Mumbai where at least they feel they will get a job which will take care of their basic survival need which is food!

But in the process the bigger cities or Metros got broke under the burden of these migrants. As no planning authority was smart enough to gauge the speed of migration which we consider as development or growth of these cities & then comes the failure of executing whatever little bit has planned. Let’s take example of Pune city, in last twenty years nearly twenty lac vehicles have come on the city roads, so however widening we do the roads won’t be able to sustain the load of vehicles & traffic issues will worsen! On same lines the present water supply agreement with the irrigation department is now nearly fifteen years old & the population has increased four times than what was then; outcome is water cuts & shortages & tanker lobby getting strong. As on one side we have fewer water supplies at source & then our existing water supply lines are inadequate & third are incapability in making new net work in the newly developed suburbs! Same thing is happening with every infrastructural fronts of the city & yet it’s growing! This is where the builders came in as increased populations other side was huge demand for the homes in cities & the result was increase in land prices!

So when Hon PM says no more policy fixing by the builders, I will like to ask that which city & which builders Hon PM was referring to? As speaking about Pune, to my knowledge no builder has got even power to get his own projects plans sanctioned in fortnight leave apart role in deciding policies for the city! And today whatever planning failures we are witnessing on every urban front i.e. right from public transport to absence of public toilets to beyond budget rates of land prices & even things like TDR, how any builder can be responsible for all this mess? Dear PM sir leave apart we the builders making policies but we haven’t been taken in confidence in making single policy like height of building or parking norms & rather that’s the reason of failure of all such city policies which we are facing today! Agreed the history of real estate & builders isn’t much glorious when it comes to giving service to the customers but yet millions of people are living in thousands of homes built by the builders only & its hundred times better than staying in slums & not having own home! And then we can’t ignore the role of builders as govt can make policies but it’s the builder who has to invest by paying high price for land, invest his money in building a project & then wait to sale the same building. Here when any auto industry related policy is being framed all the auto segment people are involved in it & same way the builders must be involved in making any real estate policy & then only if it won’t work, one can blame builders!  

Hon PM Sir, ask any builder of the Pune city that whether he has been called for basic things like making Development Plan or issues like Metro Rail or BRT? Also do ask what happened to hundreds of suggestions which our associations i.e. CREDAI or MBVA have given to local bodies like PMC or to the State Urban Development department on various issues related to real estate & then you will know who decides the policies here!
After all it’s the builders & not the govt who builds the homes & unless we take builders experiences in consideration no housing policy is going to work, that’s what has happened over the years! First of foremost is controlling land prices as well the material prices related to housing industry then only we can speak of controlling finished products price i.e. of home! Then comes the sanctioning process & various rules & regulations which has to be practical enough to execute what we want to build & then comes the service give by the developers to the customers. Hon PM, irony is in this very city an illegal building got built with poor quality, the very same buildings got sold to the citizens of the city & when such building collapse damaging human life as well life time investments of common men; now ask how many developers got punished for this crime & then do ask was the builder alone responsible for construction of illegal buildings & its sale & the mishap of the same? Sad part is nobody is afraid of the system governing the real estate, if at all its there & few people claiming themselves as builders take advantage of this system & entire industry has to suffer! Need of the time is strengthen the system & make every person associated with it to fear & respect it, even including the clients who buys flat in the illegal buildings or from so called such builders!

Hon PM sir, what hurts most to the person like myself, who is an engineer as well a builder by profession, is the top boss of my country making allegation on my entire community just because some men from my profession has misbehaved & whose fault it is that they have misbehaved & yet free & building more buildings still? That way right from bureaucrats to politicians, also has some bad names associated with them in the past but yet whatever we plan the very same system we are expecting to deliver the results!

Hon PM Sir, we have very high hopes from you for making this country a better place to live & trust me no sane builder wants to earn extraordinary profits by making homes but what vision you have we also share the same i.e. home for each everybody! But that will be only possible by working together & not by keeping any of the entity away & trusting each other the way a team trusts its team mates! Like you are selecting smart cities I request to select builders from each such city whose character is spotless & do involve them in the entire process of achieving this vision as then only it will be our vision & each of us will take responsibility to achieve it!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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