Sunday, July 23, 2017

PMC, PMRDA & 34 Villages; Reloaded!

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”  Jane Jacobs.

So many times the wise lady has helped me with her fathomless treasure of quotes, especially when the subject is about the city; I am referring to Jane Jacobs, writer of ,” Life & Death of Great American Cities”. Unfortunate is most of the time my subject is related to our beloved great Pune city & which every day is inching towards the death, courtesy our Mai Baap Sarkar! Well, may be the Sarkar i.e. Govt & which comes under the names of Urban Development or PMC or our elected members, itself wants the city that way is what now I am starting to believe. Those who may not agrees with me they can check the news paper headlines about the city (I mean Pune & Pimpri Chinchwad) or why take effort to even read, just have a round of our city at any hour of the time & tell me what you saw? Roads chocked by traffic at any hour of the time & footpaths encroached leaving no space for pedestrians (if there are footpaths), don’t look at road surface condition by the way & then every corner garbage bins over flowing, people jumping signals as no one fears cops & CC TV cameras are non functional mostly, road signage covered by faces of local so called leaders banners &  if you happen to visit any public hospital of school on way then have a look you will get idea of the services the city offers to its taxpaying citizens. One more thing try using public toilets if you got nature’s call on your city ride, that’s some experience you will remember for long, I can assure! And though the city is surrounded by serene hills (in past, I meant) yet don’t look at the hills as now they are mostly covered by slums, outcome of our biodiversity park policy (will cover that later)! Yes a solace is the city has some real good parks/gardens, thanks to some good people in garden department of PMC. Well this is scene in main city, now go to fringe areas i.e. the suburbs & beyond, let me inform you if you are wondering whether you have come to some village then yes you are but now these villages are part of city! Though few of the suburbs are part of the city now for more than ten years yet they do give you a feel of village by the roads, open drainage & no basic civic facilities around. If you can, then do speak with the residents in the multi storied buildings here & they will give you more clear picture of our city, right form no water in many of the societies to no play grounds for the kids to no street lights in place on the roads, the will tell you many stories about their battle with the system named govt, to have even basic things like proper motorable road to their society. And all these residents are law abiding tax paying honest citizens, mind it!

Now you will know why I said the city inching towards death, though still this city is attraction of millions from not only this State but from all over the country. You will wonder why, then reason is simple as still people  believes this is one of the best city for settling down & making career as this city offers jobs as has good weather & environment! And still by our super boss govt in Delhi this city is in top five cities in the country so it has been given as Second Smartest City in the entire country (now you must be wondering about the conditions of other cities in the country as if this city can be tagged as 2nd smartest in the country)! Well, reason of this sharing is just few days back I wrote about the villages around the city to be merged in PMC i.e. Pune Municipal Corporation, a civic body which is like guardian of the city. And in week’s time I am writing again like a sequel to the write up so I am calling it as PMC, PMRDA & 34 Villages; Reloaded! As finally the govt agreed to merge the villages in PMC but as usual in its weird or bizarre way; because the news says in first stage it will merge only 11 villages out of 34 marked villages. Joke is even out of these 11 villages 9 were already merged in PMC some fourteen years back, so practically only 2 villages have been decided to merge in stage one! Now don’t ask who makes such jokes in deciding policy as important as deciding life or death of a city, rather I will ask why someone makes such policy? As the question “why?” has many dimensions here & they are out of imagination for any wise man leave apart common men like you & me! Well, one main dimension (hidden) is illegal constructions & our ruler’s attitude towards this aspect of real estate. Immediately when the news of 34 villages part merging came on very next day State Govt published its agenda to regularize illegal constructions. And behold even the illegal constructions which has been made on reservations like play grounds, gardens, roads, even Metro route can be regularized, provided the reservation is shifted legally to other land! After reading all such news, I wonder if the word “legally” has any sanctity left in this State because whatever is illegal today eventually it becomes legal after some time is what we have been witnessing in real estate! As with such news & govt itself allowing building you anywhere as per your wish, then not taking remaining 23 villages makes sense as in a way our rulers have given illegal entities a green signal to go ahead & build wherever they want to build in these remaining villages. Another joke in the draft for regularizing illegal buildings is whatever development charges etc are due for such buildings will be recovered from the concerns before making these buildings legal! Well to whom we are convincing about possibility of such recoveries as the builders of such buildings are long gone & the flat holders can barely pay their home loan installments, will they be paying these building charges to PMC or PCMC?

As with this latest joke of today just getting 11 villages & remaining 23 in span of three years, question is who will be responsible for illegal constructions in these 23 villages for the next three years? This is like, I have chosen a smart, cute & healthy child which is an orphan & want to adopt it, is what I declare today. But I will adopt it by taking its full responsibility after three years & that too only if the child remains smart, cute & healthy, in those three years is the condition I will put! I wonder who will allow you to adopt child at such terms, but our Govt is Boss here so if it can make legal constructions illegal then adopting norms is very minor formality for it to mend them as per convenience of the govt! Worst part is nobody in entire system raised the question that when every concerned person has sent report in favor of merging all 34 villages & when even govt says yes for the merging then, what is the point in merging these villages, in stages. So now the PMC will have third DP i.e. development plan for 11 villages & then after 3 years we will have fourth DP for the remaining 23 villages, wow just wow!  As with the track record which we have to make DP’s & gets them in execution I am sure next thirty years we will be busy in making DP’s of PMC with this way of merging & then Mai Baap Govt is there to keep improving their definition of legal constructions! Now at least some sensible person (there are few alive around yet) in the system should guide all the concerned persons to make a full & final DP of entire PMC old limit along with these 34 villages. Let it take one or two years but whatever we will plan it will be covering aspect of entire & during this time span apply the present DC rules for extended villages as per new DP. At the same time set up separate cell in PMC to keep watch on the construction as well developments in these new villages because right now neither PMRDA nor PMC is having any set up to keep control on any illegal or even legal constructions here. And even if we demolish later on so called illegal structures then the main culprits are gone & only the residents become victim though they must book their home only in legal structure is also a fact.

The people who are residing in these villages expects nothing great but just basic infrastructure necessary for living in place & they need it fast. As each of them gives this city some service by the job or profession he or she is in & in return what this city gives them back; is the question I will ask to every person who is part of the so called govt & who is involved in the merging decision of the villages! It’s said that experience is what we learn from our past mistakes but it seems our rulers are not ready to gain any experience as we are repeating the same mistakes again & again. As out of these 11 villages 9 were already merged partially in PMC some fourteen years back & now we are merging whatever has left. By deciding to merge the remaining 23 villages in stages we are proving that what kind of fools we are. As if we can take so important decision which will hamper entire future of this city keeping in mind interests of just a bunch of people then sure we are hell bend on killing this city. Because as the Jen Jacobs has said, city’s fate is decided by the peoples who live in it & not by some PMC or PMRDA. High time for our rulers to understand this basic fact in urban planning or else by the time we complete our planning then it will be too late is all I can say!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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