Sunday, August 26, 2018

BDP, Too Many Cooks Spoiled the Recipe !

“In bad countries the government takes care of everyone. In the best ones that's not necessary!”… Celso Cukierkorn.

Rabbi Celso Cukierkorn the author of the bestseller
"Secrets of Jewish Wealth Revealed"! Rabbi Celso Cukierkorn is also known in the media as "The People's Rabbi". He helps people from all backgrounds to achieve fulfillment and prosperity by teaching them how to connect heaven and earth in an easy and exciting way. No wonder the person who guides people for meaning of life only can comment in so candid words about govt as what’s govt but people after all! And the reason I remembered his this quote is once again our govt which always is in news for something which usually  creates controversy & when the topic is as vibrant as BDP i.e. Bio Diversity Park in city like Pune then more it becomes talk of town (read media). Well, we may not be a bad country (no, I can’t dare to say that) yet going by Celso’s definition we indeed are so,  as our govt tries to take care of everybody & eventually as usual messed up everything & BDP is not exception to this rule! For those who are lucky enough or ignorant, not knowing what is BDP, for them its piece of land along the slopes which supposedly are hills in & around Pune (PMC) & by the DC rules has been marked for conservation of biodiversity in Pune. For marking this BDP, to my knowledge two criterions has been used, one is the lands which are having slope more than 1: 5 & then a particular datum level contour i.e. height from mean sea level. Though still most people are confused what criteria has been exactly used to decide which land comes under BDP & which doesn’t as in many cases all the lands have been developed by buildings & whatever remaining piece of open land has been shown in BDP! And then there are cases where you can by naked eyes see plain land yet it’s marked under BDP! 

Once a land gets marked as BDP which in simpler words in these lands you can’t build anything but plant trees yet it’s not reservation but a zone. Now again many will ask what’s the difference between a zone & reservation? That’s the joke our govt does in trying to take care of everyone & in the end the purpose of making policy itself get defeated! In a zone you define the purpose only for which the said land can be used but the ownership of land in the zone remains with the owner or land lord of the said land. Means PMC or local authority can’t ever forcefully acquire the said land but when a land is defined as reservation then PMC can acquire such land by paying compensation to the land owner or land lord & then develop the land for which it’s been reserved for e.g. play ground or school, water tank or even road & many such! Now still govt is confused whether to call BDP as zone or reservation as if its reservation then by my knowledge of land acquisition (correct me if I am wrong) PMC will have to give full compensation as per the land acquisition law to the land lords & then only can acquire such lands marked under BDP. But as govt is not sure how to make all people happy, it’s not yet declared BDP as reservation yet it wants to develop the all such lands for purpose of BDP, the question is how? Because PMC (read govt) can acquire any land by only two means, one is by paying market rate to the landlords that to double as by the law or giving TDR of that land which again by current law will be double. Means if PMC wants to acquire land of say 1000 sq ft then it has to pay in form of money for 2000 sq ft or give TDR i.e. potential of building 2000 sq ft, anywhere in city limits!

So as per the latest published policy of giving 8% TDR for BDP once again govt in zest of taking care of all segments associated with TDR as well BDP has messed up the issue as usual. With due respect to intentions & ability of our policy makers, please understand one thing; you won’t be ever able to make all people happy, especially while you are trying to save environment (well, whatever little bit of environment which is still alive)! As let’s see, who are the people whom govt wants to make happy, while it want to save (?) BDP lands too! Obviously the landlords who are voters also i.e. people who owns the land under BDP & there are two categories here, one who surely knows their land is in BDP & others who doesn’t know why their lands is in BDP. Then there are those who have bought these lands when the BDP reservation or zone was not in existence! Till recent no compensation in any form was given for BDP lands as one logic was if no construction is allowed here then why pay compensation for such lands? Well, we forget in a city like Pune where land is gold mine how we are going to protect such huge land bank & assuring no construction will be there on these lands? Govt has no answer to this & result is now nearly one third of the said BDP land has already been build with various types of structures, needless to say most are illegal! As once you call something as reservation means you change the use of the land & then the landlord of such land is entitled for whatever lawful compensation is there. Even for the green belt in existing city limits where similar scene is there i.e. it’s a zone with just 4% (now 8%) construction is allowed but once a road goes through such reservation as the use of the land gets changed i.e. green zone to road, the very same govt has given full compensation in form of TDR in past via many rulings! So how the very same govt will defend its own stance of giving just 8% TDR as compensation for BDP lands? 

Reason is simple, as govt wants to make happy all other factors associated with the BDP too & they are TDR Lobby (sorry for the term but that’s what these entities are called as) & yes how we can forget Environmentalists & NGO’s! No, I am not at all sarcastic about the later part, indeed NGO’s has played major role in keeping Pune in better shape by raising their voice on various civic issues so their concerns also required to be taken care. Since long Environmentalists were demanding BDP may be declared as reservation or not but no construction should be allowed here & all hills (BDP) to be made green by plantation! Though govt don’t have answer how to assure that by not allowing any construction on the BDP lands how they will be green; neither the NGO’s seems very keen about this aspect. Because already the govt (read PMC) itself accepts that there is illegal construction going on BDP lands but what’s action being taken about it, well we don’t ask such questions here! So, for the time being NGO’s are happy for their victory as policy is no constructions on BDP land finely at least by law! And the earlier part too must be kept happy i.e. TDR Lobby, because as per one leading town planner area of land in BDP under private ownership is nearly 950 hectors which makes it ten crore sq ft approx ( 1 hec = 1,07,639 sq ft) & with current land acquisition norms TDR as compensation for this will be double so twenty two crore sq ft of TDR will be generated in PMC limits! What will happen to existing TDR rates which has been given or being given for reservation lands! And this will not make only TDR lobby unhappy but even PMC will suffer because if the TDR rates fall down no land owner who owns land under reservation will agree to give his or her land in lieu of TDR & PMC doesn’t have money to acquire lands by paying in terms of money & State govt is already in debt so it won’t help to acquire such lands by funding PMC means PMC can’t afford to let TDR rates slump!

By the way very same town planner as well many NGO’s are suggesting PMC to raise just Rs 300 crores to buy the lands in BDP from the private land owners. With this logic average rate for land under BDP comes to be Rs 30 per sq ft, i.e. 10 crores sq ft BDP land at Rs 300 crores; do I need to explain future of land handing over for BDP purpose! Here the biggest joke is nobody is sure about the figures, may it be area under total BDP land, may it private land or its ready reckoner rate or actual marker rate, status of legal structures in such land, nothing is clear & this is the reason govt is confused whether to call BDP as reservation or zone? As once declared as reservation then entire responsibility of BDP comes on PMC to acquire & develop it but by declaring it as a zone govt has played safe as govt can always say people are not handing over their lands under BDP, so what we can do? And PMC doesn’t have man-power (some say will power actually) to stop developments in BDP or any govt lands, yet all are happy as such is the policy! But how can we keep blind eye towards what has been happened right under our nose in city center, yes I am referring to Parvati hills! One look at these once green covered & serene hills which runs along the Sinhagad road are now gray covered (read all sorts of structures in it & all are illegal). Same is scene in Katraj & many more suburbs where hill top hill slope policy was in existence by which a person can build 4% as it was zone & not reservation! Neither could we protect the existing hills in the city from illegal constructions nor we could make them green & now we are thinking of applying same i.e. 8% TDR policy to existing city limits BDP lands too! Great, go ahead, as anyways there hardly makes any difference because you can’t kill a corpse so what difference that’s going to make with already gray hills!

Actually the only way State govt (and PMC) has, to ensure to make the hills green is declare it as a reservation & make provision for funds to buy /acquire the BDP lands at market rate, as that’s the legal way. As if you can make fund provisions for Metro & River Development why can’t you make provisions for BDP, is the question I want to ask! But when its issue of funding then the govt has to take care of not only Pune but Farmers, Draught hit people, Illegal Constructions Regularization, Electricity bills waving, Bank Loans wavers & yes seventh pay commission implementations the list is unending, best way is through some policy which will make everybody either happy or confused & till then elections will come & everybody will forget BDP. Those landlords who care for environment (there still are few such fools) or those who are afraid of law (there still are such fools also) will take 8% TDR & surrender their lands. Lesser fools will go in court against this policy & keep fighting over years & someday will get some new policy as outcome. The smart ones will sale their lands to the smarter people with money & muscle & these people will build whatever they want on the BDP lands & one day eventually the our people caring govt will regularize all these constructions! Now the only factor remained is common man (read common citizen) in the city & he hardly bothers about BDP as he has got enough worries on his head like traffic congestions, road pot holes, home loan EMI, children’s school fees, medical bills & many such; BDP is something he won’t bother himself with!

Actually the entire BDP issue makes me remind a story in Akbar Birbal tales. It’s about a parrot which was very dear to Akbar Badshah. “Every morning Akbar used to see this parrot first before starting his daily rituals. One day servants found the parrot dead in its cage & they got very scared as who will inform this news to the Badshah as he will chop the head of such news barer! So they went to Birbal & explained him about the parrot. Birbal then went to Badshah who was waiting for servants to take the parrot to him. Birbal said Jahanpanha, one strange thing has happened with the parrot! Your parrot is doing meditation, he is not speaking, eyes are closed & he is sitting very still! Hearing this Badshah got curious & said let me have a look by myself. So, Birbal took Badshah to the parrot’s cage, one look at parrot & Badshah knew the parrot is dead. He said to Birbal, what’s this joke of meditation, can’t you see the parrot is dead? Hearing this, smilingly Birbal said yes Jahanpanah, he is dead but you said it, I didn’t!” Well, we all know who is parrot in our story, indeed its BDP but problem is all are either servants or Birbal, there is no Badshah in this story who will acknowledge first that the parrot is dead! Till then let’s be happy with a meditating parrot i.e. proposed BDP with all hills green & with chirping sounds of birds in it!
Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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