Sunday, November 19, 2017

No Development Zone or Illegal Homes Farming Zone!

“By far the greatest and most admirable form of wisdom is that needed to plan and beautify cities and human communities.”... Socrates.

Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers who were his students & just one name is enough i.e. Plato! And his above quotes shows his concern as well importance of applying minds in planning cities as it’s here the societies are supposed to live & grow! But unfortunately keeping due respect for everyone’s wisdom, who is associated with our city’s planning (and intentions too) what’s ever steps we are taking for making our city a better place to live is working out to be a nightmare or a bad joke! Not convinced, take the latest salvo fired by our urban planning authorities & again they are going to miss the target which they have aimed & as usual besides doubtful implementation of such policy thousands of innocents only are going to get hurt in the process, I am referring to new GR about No Development up to 100’ distance from the base of any hills in the city. Though the policy is applicable to entire State but the effect is more devastating in city like Pune which has huge real estate development going all around & the city has numbers of hills rather Pune has been developed around the hills only! In such situation, first banning no development on hills or hills slopes & now even on plains but at the foot hills also no development till 100’ distance, I wonder have we left with any brains around or not!

No, I am not saying destroy hills, neither I am saying allow buildings on hills as if I say so then I will be hanged on the top of the hills for sure, but when we say no development on the hills or hills slopes or now at the bottom of hills also then it means stop legal development; as in this country permission is required only to those who asks for it; rest all whatever & wherever has been built without permission get regularized eventually & this is what my main reason of anger, frustration whatever you call it! As if we are so very keen about conservation of hills & bio-diversity around then in first place we would not have become like Gandhiji’s three famous monkeys regarding, every possible destruction that is happening right under our nose to our very hills as well streams & rivers, which are only possible spaces to retain biodiversity. And where we can’t stop (read we don’t want to stop) encroachment of these spaces which are ownership of every citizen of this city then we concertize whatever remaining is left or make road from rivers & hills as that’s allowed because we are planning authority & we can do anything as right or wrong is applicable for the builders or citizens who obeys or respects law, which isn’t applicable for so called authorities! And that’s why we allow slums to mushroom on every hill or hill slopes or around the hills, we allow these illegal slum dwellers to build roads to reach every single hutment of such slums, we lay water lines, we provide electricity as well we build Samaj Mandir also from our elected corporator’s funds in such slums, we build public toilets & what not, after all these slum residents are also respectable citizens of this city & more than that they are vote bank, so what if their slum is illegal & build without any permission on a hill but we didn’t sanctioned that slum, mind it! But yes we the sanctioning authorities are very strict when some poor fellow who has his piece of land near foot of any hill now & who has bought that land confirming it’s a residential zone as per our Mai Baap PMC’s development plans, now with this new GR we won’t allow a single sq inch of construction on such land, only if he has come to seek sanction! Rather why the fool has come for asking permission, doesn’t he know that nobody needs any permission to build anything on such reservations or no development zones in our city (just calling some land bio diversity park doesn’t make it so). All he has to do is get help of some Mananiya or local Bhai & start making layout of plots here or simply allot the land to hutments & take nice monthly rent from the occupants. He need not have to even spend for architects fees, pay PMC for sanctioning charges, not even required to make budegt for roads, water lines, drainage lines or electric cables as all this will eventually follow with the kindness of our Mai Baap Sarkar which takes special care of illegal homes as they are Special Citizens of this city after all!

I am not against illegal homes, as I know the problems to have a legal home under your ownership for a common man & then I can’t afford to do oppose illegal homes when the govt itself supports them; I am just asking whether we really want to save our hills & rivers? As all we do is apply some insane logic & form a policy & print a GR that, from tomorrow no development in 100’ distance from bottom of hills! And we say it’s as per the instruction of NGT i.e. National Green Tribunal, it’s indeed doing great job for nature conservation but it is not a planning authority, we must accept this fact! All NGT says is save your hills & for that make some policy which will work & take action to save the hills & all we do is issue a GR which is applicable to only those who cares for it or respects the law! Or else the very same NGT in one matter has given instruction to mark flood line along the river & remove every structure under the flood line, well till date neither the flood line has marked nor the structures has been demolished by PMC! On the contrary the society which has fought for illegality in green belts along the river has to spend again for implementing Execution Order by NGT! but is some genuine person will go & ask for permission along the river bed then immediately his file will be rejected; I am against this attitude of the system named govt which has many faces with names such as PMC, PMRDA, Town Planning etc etc. And which mostly makes only the law obedient citizen suffer under the name of policy to protect environment & such thing than taking proper action which will actually save the environment around us. 

Joke is like we don’t have flood lines marked along the river, in first place we don’t have even exact hill lines marked on the ground so how we will be defining 100’ distance from the bottom of hills? Rather we don’t have even hills properly marked on map or ground in this city is a bitter fact! Another news said (all such important policies related to city, even the developers who are part of the development comes to know through the media only) that no FSI or compensation will be given for any such affected land in this 100’ distance from foot of the hills! Just great, first I will grab your land & then I won’t give you any compensation because it’s now No Development Zone, so how can be FSI or TDR will be given for the same! More great news is, whatever sanctioned structures till now are there they will be as it is but no further TDR or additional permissible FSI till yesterday was allowed here won’t be sanctioned! What about the feasibility of such projects & the people who has booked flats here, who will compensate for their losses? Are we running a developed urban govt or we have become infamous Badshah Tughlak, who to rule by his insane whims, is the question I will ask? And most importantly who says that making something as No Development Zone serves the purpose for what it has been made so; check out history of urban planning & you will understand nature is conserved only by allowing proper controlled development around it & not by banning entire developments! Look at cities like, San-Francisco or Singapore or Hong Kong, all these cities are on or around the hills & all these cities have conserved wonderful biodiversity right around & on the hills with permissible development along! Why can we copy such existing successful models around than doing something illogical that will not only kill the real estate industry but not going to serve the purpose? And when we have list of failures & we know that we won’t be able to protect such no development zones with the kind of existing bunch of people we have in the system! And then why the no development zone for just 100’ from foots of hills, why not 500’ or 50’? What study has been made to drive this distance as well why not such polices has been published in media before implementing as well not been discussed with professionals in the field of urban planning? Rather I feel someone up high wants such no development zones created all along the city so more illegal homes will get created on these no development zones & so there will be more vote banks assured!

Every day govt comes with some new policy may it be sand digging from rivers or development on hill tops hill slopes (this is still pending in DP of city) or height of buildings or development TDR on Metro Corridor; so many issues are directly killing development of this city (and citizens, including developers). And shame is with all so called brains in the system, we are unable to frame a comprehensive & final policy for our city, leading to chaos & confusion amongst the citizens & architects & developers is the scene! Today its 100’ No Development Zone policy around hills, tomorrow there will be something different; so many questions pops up in the mind, every time when I get to come across such absurd urban policies by our govt, not just as a developer or engineer but as a common citizen of this very city which I love & wants to see it as a beautiful place where nature will grow along with people. And I think govt has to answer these questions as that’s price of my vote; if every citizen stood strong & demands his compensation to the govt then only there is some chance for better future of our city!
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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