Saturday, September 30, 2017

City of Cycles, Once Up On A Time!





 “In great cities, spaces as well as places are designed and built: walking, witnessing, being in public, are as much part of the design and purpose as is being inside to eat, sleep, make shoes or love or music. The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship, around participation in public life.” … Rebecca Solnit.

Rebecca Solnit, another respected name along with Jane Jacobs when subject is city planning, is an American writer. She has written on a variety of subjects, including the environment, politics, place, and art. Solnit is a contributing editor at Harper's Magazine; no wonder she can describe city & its relation with the citizen is such perfect way. Actually when I read such quotes as well write-ups about the city from the personalities like Jacobs or Solnit, it makes me think about our Pune city always & then I read the news created by our “Mai Baap PMC” & it brings me back to the reality we live in. For e.g. there were three news which came on same day in the news papers, first news was about efforts of govt boosting entrepreneurship i.e. startups (popular buzz word) in the city, by virtue of which PMC has made a policy so the residential spaces (read flats) can be used for commercial purposes i.e. tuition classes, clinics, professional offices, call centers etc. Second news was about publishing the much talked (hyped) cycle plan for the city by PMC & third news was about formation of central special anti encroachment squad by the encroachment dept of PMC for keeping some 45 numbers of main roads along with their footpaths, of the city & prominent chowks on these roads, encroachment free. Well, on prima-fascia one won’t find any correlation between these three news & may feel good that finally some action is being taken for three aspects of the city i.e. un-employment, making citizens environment loving by making them urge to use cycle or walk & taking efforts for decongestion of traffic by freeing roads as well footpaths from ever encroaching street vendors!

But the above three news are very much co-related with each other & let me tell you keeping all due respect for the intentions of PMC, as usual its going out to be another blunder. As do mind policies which are made just to please the masses, often fails miserably is bitter truth of urban planning. To start with let’s take first news about allowing commercial activities in residential units (read flats). As the intention is making more commercial place available to entrepreneurs but what about the side effects & practicability of this decision? As I too live a perfectly residential society where we have only residential users, obviously we love our peace as that’s why we have taken our flat in this society & if now few flats are being used for classes as well clinic or say IT startups who will have any control on number of people visiting our complex & nuisance their movement will cause to other residents. Then there comes issues like security as under the name of visitor or student to such establishments any ill element can enter in the premise of our society. Then what about the burden on services like lifts which are designed for residential use as right from maintenance charges many factors will get affected, one more such aspect is added use of water required for more number of users. Then there is issue of toilet facilities as well in general cleanliness aspect of the complex which will arise due to increased numbers of visitors from all segments of the society. If the flat is being used for Poly Clinic or IT Company, then what about E-Waste or Bio Medical Waste, such units will generate?  And lastly what about parking facilities for such change of use units, as the parking norms for residential & commercial use are different & that’s natural. Apart from that when it’s a use like tuition classes then at particular time many vehicles especially two wheelers will be there & if it’s not possible in the complex premise then the adjoining footpaths are the safest parking lot is what we are already witnessing even with official commercial buildings. So now with this policy we are opening a flood gate for footpath parking is I can assure. Mainly as our traffic police doesn’t even bother nor has enough man power to control suburban area’s footpaths free from parking, is a fact. And then footpaths in our city are like orphans, neither PMC nor the traffic police think they are responsible for the parked vehicles on footpaths. And if its IT company then it will bring along four wheeler parking issue also, for that the adjoining roads of such society’s will become parking lots as we don’t charge a dime for parking our vehicles on public’s property! Here we can give permissions only if adequate parking is available in such buildings as well take an undertaking from the concerned owner for accepting additional maintenance charges he will have to bare to the society, whatever logically decided by the society. Agreed the term logical is bit difficult to define here but when you make such policies then you need to develop a system also which will deliver it!

Now about much hyped Cycle Plan in the city, few decades back this city didn’t need any cycle plan as that was the trademark of Pune, a city of cycles, just the way today Amsterdam is of Europe. But after 90’s things started changing fast, the city started expanding (swelling is proper word though) & people were required to travel distances for the daily chores. At the same time Auto Industries as well IT Industry brought wealth along in the city & outcome was nearly four millions of two & four wheelers which we witness every day are choking our roads. Poor public transport was another aspect of the need or use of these automobiles but the result was not just it chocked the roads but it ended the era of cycles too! Now, even super poor class people also don’t use cycles rather I can bait the number of people on roads cycling for their health cause is more than the number of people who really use cycle for their day to day works! Obviously our entire city planning is being made for keeping in mind the automobiles & not cycles & outcome is today practically there is no band width left for the bicyclers on the road. And in the process to accommodate these four million vehicles we have to expand the roads (easiest solution) killing along all the tree cover adjoining these roads & then parking spaces required for these vehicles did rest of the tree cutting! It’s not just risk to ride a cycle amongst zip zap zoom traffic of Pune but the carbon emission from the exhausts of these four million vehicles makes cycling on Pune roads extremely hazardous for the health also. There are cycle track boards but that’s all we have for the cyclists as what lies below those boards is joke on the name of cycle track, rather how a cycle track should not be is what being displayed under the name of cycle track is the fact! Right from planning of cycle tracks to its surface to its width nothing is right. In many cases these cycle tracks ends as abruptly as they starts, leaving the cyclists clueless as where to go next! Then there is no protection to these cycle tracks from both sides as on one side the commercial establishments along use this place as their birth right & from road side as many cycle tracks are in level with adjoining road surface the commuters driving or visiting these road side establishments parks their vehicles on the cycle tracks, forcing cyclists to get on the road & risk his life to the traffic. There is no plantation or any barrier along the cycle track which will shield the cyclists from the pollution of exhausts of the traffic is one more issue, which I even can’t dream that will be taken care ever! On all this background PMC is asking citizen’s suggestions of cycle plan, great, welcome, but why can’t you make one already designated cycle track in proper shape & then improve from that model is the question I want to ask? And then the issue is of destination or route of these cycle tracks because is the city really in position to make people cycle for their daily needs, ask this first to ourselves! Here I mean planning of the city as we don’t have clearly defined work district like down town & residential areas. We allow any type use anywhere in the city so how we are going to define the destination & the start of bunch of cyclist citizens, if we want to make a dedicated track for them?
 Leave cycling for a while; let’s have a look at the scene of footpaths as third news was about formation of special anti-encroachment squad which will keep footpaths free for walkers. 

Indeed a welcome move but what is accountability of this squad & what about the pathetic conditions of the footpaths which makes a pedestrian impossible to walk on it? Who has stopped concerned departments to repair these footpaths & makes them at least user friendly for pdestrians? Is the said squad will be responsible for that too? Rather I feel deliberately the footpath surfaces are made un-walkable, so that space can be used by every other commercial entity from hawkers to beggars! And it’s not just about private vendors encroaching footpaths, what about flex & hoardings of the so called our leaders many of them are the elected members only, will this special squad dare not just to remove such flex/hoardings blocking footpaths but punish the concerned faces on the hoardings also? At the same time this squad should have authority to fine or confiscate parked vehicles on footpath as that is one major menace city pedestrians are suffering from & it’s in all part of city! Like Pune police has done “Buddy Cop” as well “Police Kaka” help line whats-app groups, we can think of forming ward wise whats-app groups for this special squad by virtue of it, the local residents can upload foot path encroachment snaps on it. Here I will share a noble initiative started by Sandip Khardekar & Manjusha Khardekar, who is elected members of PMC from ward 13. They have formed a group on whats-app & added many citizens of their ward in it along with PMC ward officers from all departments. Any complaint regarding any service citizen can upload & it’s followed by the elected member. The other two elected members i.e. Mrs. Madhuri Sahastrabudhhe & Deepak Pote are also in this group.

Let’s remember, just technology doesn’t make difference it’s the way we use it is what changes our lives! The city do believe in efforts being taken by the system named PMC but just announcing policies of formation of some task force or squad won’t work. Because if the citizens will feel that their life has become a shade better by all such things in reality, then only their belief will converted in to trust on the system we call government & that’s what we call “Achhe Din”! By the way, one more small news item got unnoticed as many thought its good joke; the news was about applying fine of Rs. 25,000 for spitting/ making streets or public places dirty! No one believed it anyways but what I feel is, unfortunately a society where such fine for spitting on road, needs to be applied, such society don’t deserve clean surrounding because can someone fine a stray dog or a pig for being dirty! We as a society, displays worst attitude towards our very own city than even these poor species is a bitter fact, but seems PMC authorities doesn’t understands this fact so keep trying, is all I can say to conclude!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U Tube link below..

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Creating a Disaster Free City!






“Bad things do happen in the world, like war, natural disasters, and disease. But out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things”… Daryn Kagan.
Daryn A. Kagan is an American broadcast journalist, formerly a news anchor for CNN. From 1994 to 2006, Kagan served as a CNN main anchor and correspondent based in CNN's world headquarters of Atlanta, Georgia. Though nearly four years back while writing my views about Uttaranchal floods, I have used above words yet some words of wisdom are such that one always gets benefitted whenever you recite them & Kagan’s above words are one such!  This time thankfully I am not writing about any disaster but it’s in reference with a workshop organized BNCA (prominent architectural college in Pune) when I have been invited to speak from a developers perspective about disasters! Well, I was thrilled as whatever disaster happens in this city most of the time it’s blamed on builder fraternity only! May it be by media or even masses as most are convinced that any bad thing happening to the city, it’s due to nexus of builders along with politicians & corrupt govt officers (its media’s term, pardon me if anybody offended). So on such background I am being invited as a builder to speak about disaster & its rescue operation as well pre-care is something unique & I grabbed this opportunity. Though it’s always difficult to narrate what you have spoke though with writing medium I will try to share my views as it reaches to larger spectrum & awareness about the disasters is the first step & a vital one which mostly we ignore. As it’s rightly said the best way to face the disaster is to avoid it; but how you can avoid something which you are not known about, is the question I will ask.

Here I will share a wonderful story from our age old “Jatak Katha” , actually if we read & adopt, stories from Panchatantra, Esap Niti & Jatak Katha then we will be able to avoid most of the disasters is what I personally feel. Well in a village set in deep forest there was a ferryman who used to earn his living by ferrying villagers to other shore of the river which divides the village from outrĂ© world. One day a Pandit (learned man) was visiting the village & sat in the boat, the ferryman started rowing the boat. After some distance the Pandit asked the poor ferryman has he read Vedas (Books wrote by ancient wise men about Hindu Mythology). Obviously the ferryman replied sheepishly, no he hasn’t; on this the Pandit said oh what a loss, and your quarter of life has been wasted! Near midway the Pandit asked ferryman again had he read Upanishadas (books about Hindu Philosophy), again the ferryman said no he hasn’t. Hearing this, the Pandit exclaimed dear lord; your half life has been wasted.  Suddenly in the meantime a storm breaks up & the boat got in water current & started swaying violently. Sensing the boat might topple; the ferryman asked the Pandit can he swim. On this the frightened Pandit said, no he can’t swim; hearing this, the ferryman said, Panditji, what a shame, your entire life is a waste now!

The story ends here & on the same line whenever we discuss or speak about disaster, we have all theory in place along with the so called disaster management committee which includes govt officials from every dept & many so called experts yet disasters keeps happening & every time the system fails to avoid it as well even in post action, is a fact! Like the Pandit in the story, we have all book knowledge but rarely all that theory comes useful in disaster time. For avoiding or facing any disaster we need to understand what disaster means & the ways it will hit us. Broadly you can categorize 1. Natural disasters i.e. flood, earth quake, hurricane even draught (no rains). 2. Manmade disasters i.e. fire, accidents like building collapse. 3. Public health disasters i.e. epidemic diseases like swine-flu or dengue as cholera & plague are gone now. 4. Environmental disasters like the entire Shanghai city came to stand still due to air pollution & there were chaos all around in China few years back; same thing happened in Delhi also; then there are landslides causing heavy life as well wealth damage. Or jungle fires which are common in Australia or even USA, a recent one in California covered entire west part of State. 5. And lastly terrorist attacks are also new age disasters only! As an engineer as well developer I am fairly well versed with our city & except hurricane or earthquake, mostly every other disaster is manmade or having human factor responsible for creating it, is what I feel. Even with number of dams on the Mula/ Mutha rivers, its only bad management of water discharge from the dams, encroachments on water ways (read, river bed & nallahs/stream across the city) as well loss of tree cover, are the main causes of flooding disasters & not just heavy rain fall!

So when we know nearly 80% of disasters are man driven then question is what we are doing to avoid them? Well answer is we just are happy to perform mock drills & writing reports & publishing advertises on radio/TV about our efforts but we are not doing anything for long term solutions to avoid the disasters! For e.g. see the traffic congestion on our city’s roads, causing air pollution, with Delhi or Shanghai pollution disasters in-front of our eyes, still Pune roads are getting chocked up by the thousands of new vehicles every day; what are we doing to stop that flow of vehicles which are emitting tons of CO2 every day & polluting the air we breathe? Or take the examples of hundreds of Old Wadas on the verge of collapse, in the city or even many buildings which need structural audit, all PMC or civic body does is issue notices or declares in media that structural audit is mandatory but who is doing it & what is outcome if some building is found unsafe? Well, our rulers loves to make popular announcements like regularizing illegal constructions but nobody likes to announce unpopular policies directly related to public safety, which are actually like dosage of medicines which tastes bad but unless you swallow it you won’t get cured is simple fact! Another such location awaiting a disaster is slum around Parvati hills along the Sinhagd road; one heavy rain & stage is perfectly set for a massive land slide which will be taking thousands of lives considering the illegal development saturated all along those slopes. As the entire vegetation above the slum lines has been destroyed eroding soil cover as well there is no safety/ barrier wall to guide the water flow coming from the hill top safely away from those hutments. At the same time buildings are mushrooming from other side of the Paravti hills as well at base & I am not a geologist yet digging of hill with all heavy machinery for those building’s foundation must be causing enough vibrations in the hill’s rock pattern to speed up land slide is what I can guess! Or even a fire in the numerous slums spread around the city also can be a major disaster, with no roads for fire engines at such locations, or no proper fire hydrants in place, what more we can expect! In all such cases post disaster the civic administration often issue a public statement whenever a wada or a building collapses that they have been informed about danger & a notice has been given to residents but is that all? Can’t we come up with a scheme where if you don’t get structural audit of your building then your property tax will be made ten times than normal? Or cut the water supply or electric supply of such building as well slums unless they shift to a safer place? Well, we can’t, because we want to take only sweet decision is one thing & we are not prepared for pre or post disaster infrastructure is another fact.

When I say we lack disaster infrastructure then main thing is proper (read accurate) data about various statistics like locating probable locations where disasters can occur as well number of people who can be affected in disaster along with information about access ways & all rescue means. Remember data is the key whenever we are fighting with a faceless problem like disaster. Also making available all such data on public domain & make people aware about the threat they are living in; sad part is nobody knows whose responsibility is this. And all what govt does in the name of awareness from disasters is release pathetic advertises on radio which are very general & basic like, “go to higher places in case of flood”, types! And then temporary shelters is one more aspect which is most “Kamjor Kadi” in entire disaster management as need is permanent structures which can be used temporarily & spread all within as well around the city & in well maintained condition. Show me one disaster rescue settlement in the city which has clean & enough toilets, is equipped kitchens with enough food, has a trauma center with proper medical supplies & livable rooms for the victims of disasters; in cases like epidemic diseases we will even need isolation facilities for the patients & their relatives at such shelters. But fact is presently all we have is, make shift PMC schools as shelters or some tin shelters that too in remote places where no person will shift as mostly the flood prone people are class four workers & if they don’t have means of access to their daily work places they won’t ever shift from their existing residences, even risking their lives is a fact! We can think of utilizing amenity places (at least some of them) as disaster shelters which will be regular service apartment types & maintained by some professional agency. For this first prepare a prototype model of permanent shelters with all basic facilities as mentioned above, this can be done with the help of architecture college students. And then we can work out a policy by which in lieu of TDR the developer can build such facility in the amenity spaces of his project & hands over to PMC. We can even think of giving the developer responsibility of maintaining it against TDR or discount in premiums in such developer’s other projects, in proportion to maintenance cost for say 30 years period. We can also think of utilizing spaces around existing PMC schools premise or adding floors above them for building permanent rescue shelters. At the same time we can make use of existing open spaces in the layouts & as well keep some open spaces in the new DP i.e. development plan, where people can gather in case of earth quake type situation. One more thing is making all such disaster rescue shelters/centers locations & status available on mobile-app, so in case of emergency people on their own can reach here instead bothering administration or just running around.

Making people aware about the disasters is one important aspect & it’s not just about what to do during disaster but what to do to avoid the disasters is more important. And on this front we can think of roping in CREDAI like developer’s associations along with city planners & engineers to reach out to masses with solutions. At the same time do take professional people’s advise or suggestions in consideration on the subject because as the story of  the Ferryman & Pandit, it’s not just bookish knowledge but field experience also counts, especially while fighting disasters. Let’s remember the best thing one can have is a Disaster Free City & its every bodies job as when a hurricane or earthquake occurs it doesn’t categorize us by our caste, religion or position & that’s makes fighting with disasters, as every one of us responsibility!


-- 
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U Tube link below..

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Understanding UD !!






Cities have the capacity to provide something for everybody, only because & when they have been created by everybody”… Jane Jacobs.

 

When it’s planning of cities then the name Jane Jacobs is immortal as hundreds of such quotes are not mere words but have become back bone of city planning which unfortunately we have named as urban development, more popularly known as Urban Development in our State Govt, short formed as just UD! Well, the mere mention of the word UD makes the media enticed by the thought of gossip it holds, developers/ politicians/ beurocracy gets excited by the money it spins & common man gets nervous because of the outcome it generates! That way UD is always in lime light, (though mostly for wrong reasons) but when a powerful minister in Center of the ruling govt, makes accusations about its poor performance or working, then like “kahani me twist”, many eye brows got lifted up thinking what’s next? Before 90’s UD was never much in demand as whatever urban development this State has, it was restricted to Mumbai & Pune & this was the scene till late 80’s or early 90’s. Obviously then the UD ministry or the department was always considered as less important & its responsibility used to be given to some grade two or three level minister to look after. Ours was agriculture based State & most CM’s were from rural as well the policies & budget of the State used to move around departments like irrigation, agriculture, rural development & roads, that’s it. Very few even knew till late 80”s about existence of UD but come 90’s & first time the then CM i.e. Manhohar Joshi (needless to tell he himself was a builder) kept the charge of UD with him  as he very well understood the power of UD in reference to changing future of State & its towns as well larger cities. And since then UD has never looked back & has becomes such a star department that every CM has kept the charge of this dept with himself. Irony is most of them has to leave the CM’ship itself, because of not by poor management of the State but because of the scandals in UD!

 

Now let’s see what brings such glamour to UD that even the CM couldn’t resist to let it go to someone else; in one simple word the one who controls the life of the people he is God & with majority population (read voters) moving to the cities, it’s the UD which holds control over lives of these millions of people in cities. And then with conversion of villages to towns, towns to cities & cities to Metros, urbanization becomes the buzz word like famous “Gold Rush” in USA, as today the land itself has become gold. Naturally as its UD which controls every policy related to the land use, soon it became a big money churner in many ways, for the govt as well any of those who has been associated with this dept. For this we need to understand the structure of this entire land related matter in the cities as well towns of our State. The need of having urban development started way back as when we realized that no more we are a community living in villages which mostly depended on natural resources. Obviously the population was less so the resources like water, shelter (read homes), roads etc were sufficient for the then population. There was no question of industries or IT parks type developments & most of the transportation was on feet or by bullock carts, so parking wasn’t an issue at all, in short whatever we face our modern times infrastructure problems, all were unheard of.

 

But as the industrialization grew, that brought along large scale migration of people at one place & then there was dire need of managing infrastructural need of this population & for that there has to be an organization which would study the population, its needs & a plan of the land use for all such essential infrastructure. In a way every piece of land which comes under expand of any town, city or Metro (very large city like Mumbai) in this State, its use is decided by UD. Though these towns or cities are governed by local bodies, for e.g. there is PMC in Pune or we have Nagar Parishad in town like Baramati, depending up on the population of these towns/ cities. And all these local bodies have their own set of rules which are called as Development Control rules i.e. DC rules which they has to get clearance from UD. For this UD has town planning dept (call as arm of UD) which governs land use of the lands which doesn’t comes under in municipal corporation or civic body such as Nagar Parishad. The Director of Town Planning is like supreme authority or consultant to UD for any dispute regarding land use or DC rules for any civic body in State. The UD has two IAS officers as well a set up in Mantralay (Ministry), in Mumbai & head is Cabinet level minister which since last many years is Hon Cm himself. Now you can understand the importance of UD in today’s times as every sq inch of land’s use (read potential) is decided by the UD, which in a way means fate of every land along with its land owner is decided by UD! And at the same time every municipal corporation as well municipal council in the State comes under jurisdiction of UD, no wonder its huge vote bank for any political party & that’s tempting enough for every CM to keep hold of it. Thought nothing wrong as this very potential makes UD one of the most important ministry also as if you really want to develop the State then the UD holds the key for the development is a fact.

 

Now let’s see what was expected from UD regarding the land use or cities; as the name suggests UD was meant to control growth of the towns or cities in proper way. Here proper way has many dimensions which includes giving basic infrastructure like water, roads, electricity, drainage like physical infrastructure along with social developments of these cities, let’s call them as settlements. Social developments includes not just education & public health but employment generation too & on top of it to make the homes with all such facilities available to the needy ones in & around these settlements at affordable cost, is the prime job of UD. But with due respect to all the persons working in UD under we have been developing cities without understanding the development essence itself. For e.g. millions has to migrate from smaller towns to big cities like Mumbai & Pune as there is no jobs in smaller towns & neither basic above mentioned infrastructure as mentioned above. And even does those who have been migrated to the big cities are happy with what life style they are getting in these cities? Well, let’s see the scene in our Pune region itself; the execution of the controlling activities of development here has been divided in numbers of civic bodies & each having separate sets of their DC rules. And these DC rules differs even periphery of some 50 km also, take example of PMC, PCMC & PMRDA, the fire premium types charges differs here in multiple folds in all three civic bodies & so is the case for many policies related to urban development in these areas. Then there is no control on monitoring the infrastructure development as for us UD is just sanctioning new buildings & collecting premiums under various heads. The development plans of the cities/regions takes years just to get finalized & then its implementation happens at snail’s pace & then what about the development of the city during this period, this question nobody has answer. The city is growing hap-hazard with some people getting rich & millions getting poor due to land policies, such is the planning scene. We sanction buildings, built them & then with individual whims or say convenience rest of things like roads & water follows, is the common scene all around the State. Lastly there is issue of illegal constructions which is strait outcome of unavailability of affordable legal homes, defeating the very purpose of UD!

 

High time there has to be serious thinking about UD’s functioning itself, right from having same DC rules to all cities as well policies like premiums. And more importantly need is having a system in place which will ensure timely implementation of these DC rules as well policies from the local civic bodies which are acting like parallel UD in itself individually! At the same time we can think of appointing professionals in the field of Urban Planning in UD at key positions instead going through routine govt job appointment process, as this is something job of skill & not just seniority. As an IAS or administrative officer can be good in administration of the system but to understand the concept of planning & making proper policies suiting to need of not just present problems but for future too, you need a person who knows what urban planning is! And then give these professionals deadlines to achieve what has been planned, as sorry to say but right now UD is like a ship in the ocean travelling without any destination to reach. Many of my friends won’t like my statement but look at the scene around us,in the Smart city like Pune neither can we finalize airport location in time nor we can find alternate dumping place for city’s garbage & on other side we dream for Metro Rail & river front development type projects, year after year, what all this suggests? And in the mean time city keeps expanding with hundreds of projects mushrooming all around as people need homes is a fact. Even for that the so called town planning dept, how many of them has even planned one town ship & executed it till the possession? And if not so, how we can expect them to understand issues of common developer or end flat holder while building single building or buying their own homes in this city? As most of the politicians as well govt servants gets nice govt accommodations (exception like police line are there) in best part of the city so they never know what it takes to live in homes where you have spent your life times earning to buy it & yet you don’t have got even decent road if not public transport, to reach your home from your work place, leave apart water & other facilities!

 

Lastly there is issue of balancing environment as with rampant urbanization we are actually killing natural habitats of millions of species & we even haven’t spared our rivers, hills, lakes or forests & we are encroaching on them for our homes. With majority population migrating to the cities the job of UD is vital & if in time we don’t take proper steps then like a balloon exploding with the pressure of gas in it, our cities will burst under the pressure of residents in them & that day is not far long! 

 

-- 

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

Connecting with Customers, a Sanjeevani Way!


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8U980VaR7c



Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)

 

http://visonoflife.blogspot.in/2017/06/conveyance-unique-get-together.html

 

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com

Friday, September 1, 2017

Pune & A Dream Named River Beautification!





“Cities get built out of poet's dreams.”… Marty Rubin.

Marty Rubin is the author of books such as The Boiled Frog Syndrome, the book is for love & politics obviously it revolves around the city & so we get to know such wonderful quote. Though when it comes to our beloved city Pune I do believe in poet’s dream but these dreams gets shattered when every day I wakeup is the fact! As each new days brings along new dreams to residents of this city & there is no scarcity of poets in Pune & they do come with many names, positions, parties (political) & faces (read masks). Apart from recent dreams of Smart City & Metro as BRTS is now forgotten, there are few other dreams also which keeps on entering in Puneakr citizen’s life periodically; one such is river front development! I am staying in this city now for more than thirty years & I vaguely remember flow of clean water in the river in my early days as well lots of greenery around the banks at least in the stretch of karvenagr around the place where at present rajaram bridge stands. I even remember quite a bird life along the river in winters, even migratory birds like painted storks has been regular visitors of the rivers flowing through Pune but of late there are only kites & crows, you can see hovering over the river bed. Speaking about greenery along the river banks, well it’s long gone & all you can see is now boundary walls of projects right in the banks of river or river side road chocked with vehicles or mounds of earth filling, encroaching the river bed by private land owners along the river banks. About water quality flowing through the rivers of Pune city, then lesser we say is better is all I can tell. As if you call it a big open drain then even these words are not enough to describe the water quality or situation of the rivers of this city.

And on all such background when I opened news paper & get to read the front page of mostly all news papers running the story of some political party has made a river front development plan & submitted to Hon PMC Commissioner then I wonder whether to laugh or cry on what I have read! No, I don’t want to get beaten up by the said party karyakartas as I am not criticizing their good intentions (though few Punekar may ask, what this party has done for the river development while they were in ruling?) but this is not political blog so I refrain saying who has done what & what not. Instead I will try to share who has tried what regarding our city’s rivers & what’s the fact about this dream which has been called as river front development. As to my knowledge I have read at least five or six such news items in last decade about various organizations which includes some reputed architectural colleges also, making this effort of telling PMC how they can make the river beautiful public place. And even PMC itself has made a plan & got budget from Central Govt over thousand crore rupees for developing the river front. That way there was another news of PMC appointing consultants for many such dream projects & spending millions of rupees for the same but outcome of such consultancy is never seen on site is also a fact, I mean largely such is the scene.

And then there was another news of PMC’s/PCMC’s ( as I never consider Pune & Pimpari Chinchwad as two different cities anymore) many administrative officers & elected members going abroad or other States (read Ahmadabad in Gujarat in river front context) for studying developments in these countries or States. But again what is outcome of such study tours on larger scale is unknown to most of the citizens. As, if even one person from PMC or PCMC has seen any other country with open eyes & mind & had tried to implement what he or she has seen in the study tour then we wouldn’t have been shouting for clean public toilets, which is very basic need of the city. And here we are dreaming for river front development like thing while we are unable to make even one public toilet usable for citizens! So following the tradition of study tours one more team of officers & elected members has been gone to Ahmadabad to study the river development from PCMC. And let me remind you it’s in PCMC only maximum encroachments have happened in the river bed & Hon High Court has been pushing PCMC to remove these encroachments. When its encroaching rivers then PMC isn’t far behind with her sister city; in a recent verdict by NGT (National Green Tribunal) it has ordered PMC to remove every structure (and there are many) in the blue line from stretch of some 1.8 km river bed of Mutha river. Though this order is at present regarding the stretch of only 1.8 km between mhatre bridge to rajaram bridge yet soon it will be applicable to entire river stretch in PMC limit. 

As usual both municipal corporations are doing their best to show that they are honoring courts verdict yet on site not an inch of encroachments has been removed is a fact, this is our attitude towards our river development. Now look at this joke, on one side our political parties’ has been busy in getting publicity by publishing the river development plans as well municipal administration is busy in sending their teams to study river front development in other cities but on other side they are not even doing their routine job to keep the river banks free from illegal encroachments!

And then on top of everything our Hon Central Transport Minister during his recent visit to Pune assured that he will put all efforts to use Pune’s rivers as means of water transportation i.e. water ways, to reduce burden on Pune’s roads which are chocking down to death due to millions of vehicles! With due respect to Hon  Minister as I am diehard fan of his working style but sir please no more dreams about our river is all I will request as while we dream we shouldn’t forget that this city can’t afford to dream anymore! Sir, let me remind you that any river transport needs flow of water all year round in the river where as here we can’t even let our canals run full all year long so from where the water is going to be made available for the water ways transportation in Pune rivers? There is one remote solution like Suez canal, to build check dams all along the river bed to maintain a basic level of water in the river & then use it for river transport but then it’s going to be very very costly affair making this transportation non-viable & second you will have to remove encroachments on both banks to avoid submergence which will be generated due to these check dams. And speaking about removing encroachments the PMC can’t even remove its own built road in the river bed so how & when we will be able to clear both the banks of Mula & Mutha is the question I will ask?

Now coming to the study tours to cities like Ahmadabad for Sabarmati river development; I had been to that city some twenty years back & trust me the scene was same as we witness today with Mula/Mutha. The city is in this very country only with all the so called govt system in place yet they could revive the entire river front & today we visit to see that development. What I will suggest to our PMC/PCMC friends is why there is need to visit to see Ahmadabad river front development, when everything is available on Google in form of snaps as well live feed from Google Earth; instead ask how they have done it & why they were able to achieve it? Answer is simple, they made proper study of the result what they wanted to achieve & made policies according to that & they had will to execute those policies. For e.g. with due respect to everyone’s efforts to make river front development plans does we know that we are not allowed to do anything within Blue Line? For those who doesn’t know what’s blue line & red line, these are flood lines marked on ground along both the banks of the river representing highest flood time water levels in last thirty years (blue line) & hundred years (red line). 

Then another joke in policy making is  we have kept a green belt of 30 meters wide in new development plan i.e. new city & the very same green belt is nearly 100 meters wide in old city limit. This all green belt land is under private ownership & it’s a zone not reservation, so we can’t control any development here. And on sinhgad road side of Mutha river or in many places the residential zone directly touches to river banks leaving no place beyond the blue line for any provision of river front development! Now how & where we will be developing our beautiful planning which is going to buried dead in some presentations, wasting efforts of hundreds of architects & planners!
Need  of the time is make a uniform green belt in the form of reservation along the both banks of the rivers & it should be throughout as rivers doesn’t recognize old or new city limits types foolish terminologies. And most importantly make this belt along the river as reservation & make provision of enough funds or TDR (FSI in lieu of land to be acquired) as then only the concerned land lords will hand over the said land to the authorities. Or think of making some part commercial & allow the land lords to use it on basis of maintain & operate. As with due respect to planners who has made many options of river front developments, to plan is easy but what’s use if that plan is never ever going to be a reality? This is the very reason, in last many years number of wonderful dreams has been shown to the citizens about making river a pride of city but till today not even 100 meters of river has been beautified as planned!

Another aspect is allowing drainage of entire city to let in the rivers, its killing the very life cycle of the river which is essential to keep it alive. The pollution levels are so high of Mula/ Mutha river water that nothing can survive in these rivers so at least till we do our so called river front development, we can stop drainage water entering in to the rivers. All we have to do is keep a tight check on every nallah (which few years back was stream); sewer lines which is being let in the river & ensure that even a single drop of water entering in river is treated. And we don’t need any special permission or high level technology for this basic solution. Only issue is do we really want the solution as why blame PMC only but every single person of this city is happily throwing his or her garbage in the river at our convenience is a fact & even Ganpati immersion is not exception to making our rivers more polluted!

Let’s remind our self as the Marty has said, cities do get built by the poet’s dreams but just dreams are not enough, we need to open our eyes & make efforts to make those dreams realty. And yes along with all this, we need a will too, to execute what we have dreamt. And finally remember one thing, you can dream while you are asleep but you can’t dream when you are pretending to be asleep, which we so called Punekars are, especially when the dream is about making our rivers beautiful!
---
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune post RERA & GST at U Tube link below

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc8VnM7N90E&t=212s

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)



http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.in/

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/sets/72157627904681345/

For any of your complaints about city, log in at link below

www.punecorporation.org

Think Green, Think Life


www.sanjeevanideve.com