Friday, July 14, 2017

PMC, PMRDA & 34 Villages; Dobara!

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
 …R. Buckminster Fuller.

Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor. Considered as one of the greatest minds of his times, Fuller published more than 30 books related to science, innovation & planning. It’s people like Fuller & many others who are real asset of United States & more than that the country rulers listened to what these minds said that’s why today USA is one of the most advanced country on the front of infrastructure as well innovations. It’s unfortunate that we have minds at par with Fuller but their words goes to deaf ears, blind eyes & dead brains of the system named govt.  If you are wondering what I am referring to then its latest (actually age old issue but still latest as its not solved) of merging the villages around Pune city. This city I just love for the mess or chaos it creates & loves to keep them alive, may it be Metro or Balbharati Road or 24x 7 water supply scheme or PMT i.e. public transport improvement, years come & went but we just keep on discussing & considers our self as smartest citizen around if not city! The merging of villages around PMC i.e. Pune Municipal Corporation is one such dear subject for all segments; right from media to political parties & now it has one more contender in form of planning authority i.e. PMRDA. For those who are yet ignorant (fortunately) then let me give background; PMRDA  i.e. Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority is planning body which is formed to look after uncontrolled growth around two municipal corporations, Pune & Pimpri Chinchwad which popularly are known as PMC & PCMC. Now don’t ask where the development has been getting controlled even now, as in our urban dictionary we have yet to understand what is growth, what is development & we end up calling swelling as growth & development of the city!

Coming back to the subject, few years back there was a movie named “Once up on a time in Mumbai” which did good business on box office, so its sequence was bound to come & it did come with the name “Once up on a time in Mumbai, dobara” (dobara means again or repeat). Well on similar lines there are many sequels of above popular issues regarding the city, though the star cast keeps changing. Like, few months back when PMRDA got in function (many will ask, has it?) then the very same issue of merging 34 villages (don’t ask why 34 & why not 24 or 54?)  was in lime light, then also I have wrote about it & now nearly after one year again the same issue is there in news, so I kept the heading same just added “Dobara” in-front of it! Now many will ask so what has happened in one year, well nothing is simple answer but somebody has filed a case about merging the villages in PMC & development in these areas, in Hon High Court. On this Hon HC gave directions to the Mai Baap State govt to file its say with some man date about what is Govt’s stand on this issue. The Govt has already enough troubles at hand so as usual series of meetings of senior officers in Urban Development, Revenue, PMC started & 34 villages ball kept rolling from one dept to another. In this year one more thing happened the rulers in PMC got changed (not that it has made any effect to citizens) but it definitely matters to the decision of merging of these 34 villages as in our country it’s not right or wrong which decides any course of action but mood or convenience of some bunch of people (read party) is the deciding factor! It seems that the present rulers of the city has different plans for these 34 villages, so one point has been raised that to make basic civic infrastructure (again don’t ask means what) available in just these 34 villages which has been spread over nearly some 300 sq kms, approximately Rs 5500 crores will be required & how PMC will be raising this amount? From where this figure of development cost has come I don’t know as I read it in news papers & it seems to be worked out by PMC officials only.

Now one very basic question comes to mine as well common man’s mind is, if this much amount is being required to develop civic infrastructure in these 34 villages then if PMC don’t have those funds then who has it? Does it means that not merging these villages in PMC will be solving the problem of infrastructure & if yes how? As this is just facing-off from the responsibilities by PMC, agreed which has already its own  enough problems but is PMRDA capable of giving infrastructure to not just 34 villages but its entire jurisdiction which spreads over 300 sq kms? And if yes then who is analyzing the PMRDA for its outcome since the formation? The PMRDA which has been formed to take care of development outside of PMC/PCMC area, it will have to raise this money ( just 34 villages I am referring to), so how & when this is going to happen & till that time what residents of these villages are supposed to do? As now more than one year PMRDA is in place & in this time span city hasn’t stopped swelling (sorry as can’t use the term growing) but scene earlier & later is same. Still in entire these 34 villages there are no well maintained or even basic roads, no drainage lines, no public transport, no schools or hospitals (govt I mean), no gardens or play grounds where the kids can play , people throws garbage where ever they wish; frankly there is nothing  we can consider as essential for a residence. Developments are there but in bits & pieces & mostly done by private establishments right from school to hospitals even roads! Such developments are not enough at the same time it adds burden on the pockets of the developers as well the residents & we except affordable housing! 

And one more thing, have any of us ever thought kids of our maid or driver goes to which school & who is their doctor? Well, they all goes to PMC schools mostly or aided schools & public medical facilities, so what about such necessities in these 34 villages, so who is going to provide it & operate them?  I don’t blame PMRDA administration for this scene as they do have wish & will but unfortunately that isn’t enough for infrastructure building; the boost has to come from top level i.e. the Govt sitting in Mumbai HQ named Mantralay. For e.g. water is becoming grave factor for entire real estate industry & Pune has as many four dams which are being used to last drop so from where PMRDA region development is going to get water including  these 34 villages? This question itself nobody asks leave apart trying to find solution for water supply. So where the money which has been collected under the name of development charges or premiums while sanctioning these building has gone, is what people are asking! And especially on the background of Baner water supply court matter where Hon High Court has given interim stop work to sanction of all the new projects in Baner Balewadi area; no wonder these 34 villages will follow the same fate if we don’t act fast, is writing on wall! In some part developers have come together & doing roads in their areas where they are having projects & PMRDA is supporting the concept but then cities don’t get built up by this concept, some parts yes. The need of the time is one strong force or authority backed up with financial decision making & a realistic development plan in place.

Then there is issue of controlling encroachments in all these villages, as we have experienced what happens to all the encroachments few years down the line. One classic case is present issue of ring road in PCMC of which acquisition is now virtually become impossible because of years of encroachment on lands reserved for the ring road. In these 34 villages also we may make rosy development plans but if we don’t execute them fast then at present with no infrastructure for the governing body no one can guaranty that all the so called reserved spaces/ lands will remain available when the time comes for development of the same. For decades we have witnessed that first buildings gets constructed then people come in to live in these buildings & then roads get built & the street lights come & then the very same roads get dug & water as well drainage line gets laid & then things like gardens, hospitals, public schools comes in picture & public transport ropes in last if at all it comes! With all these 34 villages around PMC we still have a fairly clean slate to write a new chapter in city planning by working reverse way of what we have been used to do under the name of so called urban development; let’s not waste the opportunity or else our future generation will never forgive us for this urban sin!

There is another thought process of forming a separate Municipal Corporation for these 34 villages which I feel is not a practical solution because these are on periphery of Pune all around. To form a municipal corporation you need a cohesive piece of land where as these villages are scattered all around & it will be difficult to manage their development as well day to day administration if they are gathered as separate entity as Municipal Corporation. Imagine one suburb or one ward of PMC is situated beyond PCMC, how difficult it will be to lay the services like water & drainage to this part of PMC or even to accommodate such suburb in DP of PMC; same will be the scene if we make separate body for the 34 villages as they are not interconnected.

The joke is yet the buildings are mushrooming in & around of these 34 villages (urban concentration camps) & people are living in these buildings without any such facility; just because people have no choice when it comes to getting a home in their budget! And these people are not fools who are living in the buildings in the 34 villages as these are sanctioned projects we are talking, built by paying every known govt charges. So, keeping due respect for the cause when the govt can make lives of farmers bearable by forfeiting their loans why the very govt is turning blind eye & deaf ears for the basic living needs of the citizens who are honest tax payers of the same govt? Whether PMC merges the 34 villages or PMRDA controls them, that time will decide but let’s remind our-self that right now we are making modern days concentration camps with no living conditions for the residents & for which we the system is playing role of Hitler, accept it. But do mind this generation won’t keep silent as they will show their revolt in voting which is unfortunately only weapon they have to show their anguish against the system.  Though the biggest defeat of the democracy is when new elected govt (call rulers) making same or worst mistakes than the earlier one, that’s the curse we have!
Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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