Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Orphan City!

“The speed of decision making is the essence of good governance”…. Piyush Goyal.
Well most know this personality yet for those who are ignorant about Indian Politics for them, Piyush Vedprakash Goyal is an Indian politician. He is the current minister of Railways, Coal and Corporate Affairs in the Government of India; He was elevated to Cabinet Minister Position on 3 September 2017. Mr Piyush Goyal is one of most dynamic ministers of Team PM (Hon Narendra Modi’s elite squad, in good way) & his above words does make us know he is man of decision! Why I remembered his these words is as usual our beloved Pune city, which is Smart City No 1, Most Liveable City in country, Oxford of East etc etc! Indeed it is a very good city in compare to many other cities not just in country but other countries also & we have many great people working in many great organizations (even govt ones) to make this city a great place yet, this yet is the reason for making us remind Goyal saab’s words about decisions! Recently if you open any news paper then apart from financial scams or sports one thing about city section you notice & that is about conflicts between various departments (obviously govt’s) & every department claiming that they are correct & are committed to the development of the city! And keeping full faith in their claims, let’s look at the headlines of news papers in just last week…

1.    There is row between policy of TDR for the Metro work, there are two rather three rather four agencies which are responsible for Metro, i.e. PMC, PCMC, PMRDA & Metro Corporation itself! Well before going in depth lets understand PMC is responsible for development under Pune city, PCMC is responsible for Pimpri Chinchwad where as PMRDA is governing developments anything & everything out of these two corporation limits & Metro Corporation is the executing authority of the Metro rail! And each agency thinks they are boss of the work under their jurisdiction making the citizens confused with the policies they makes! For e.g. all concerned agrees that to make Metro viable (this again is in itself doubtful aspect of development) there has to be more FSI (read more homes or population along Metro track) along Metro track & as there are two seperat6e tracks of Metro so we have two separate polices for the same. PMC has come up with a policy (read idea) that 4 FSI will be given only in 500 meters radius of the Metro stations whereas PMRDA says it will be all along 500 meters distance on both sides of Metro track! Well there are chances that few areas will come under both Metro’s tracks, so some Punekar’s sarcastically asked whether there will be 8 FSI for such properties & shall they wait till then for the development of these properties! Metro was announced nearly four years back & work started one year back & yet there is no decision of what FSI will be given for Metro route obviously when we don’t know how much FSI will be given then nobody has bothered to check how this FSI will be consumed i.e. its utilization feasibility on fronts of side margins, parking & then many other things like water as well drainage lines to take care of this added residential load. Most importantly already the city electric power demand is very high & several times MSEDCL (well, MSEB) whose jurisdiction is supplying electric power to the city, has complained about poor infra for the same, how we will be managing this fourfold increase in load demand for the added FSI burden? When the above four agencies can’t even conclude on FSI policy I doubt whether they have even bothered to inform or consult MSEDCL for the future increase in electric load of the city centre! And not just that for last nearly one year entire PMC, PCMC’s real estate is at hold due to this TOD mess as with both the routes covering nearly half of the city & FSI policy itself not in place not even the God can work out the viability of the project here & we talk about ease of doing business!

2.  Then there was another news about PMRDA‘s TP (Town Planning Scheme) i.e. in a way development plan for controlled (read planned) growth of geographically very important suburb Mhalunge as its in a way gate-way to Hinjawadi IT park. Here lots of land was put under green zone (read, no development zone), which again was the joke in present RP i.e. regional plan!  This land was lying idle for so many years where as all its peripheral surrounding has developed, a wonder how the illegal developments were not mushroomed here till now! The most important issue was a 150 feet wide road has been planned towards Hinjawadi IT Park by MIDC (One more organization which governs Hinjawadi IT Park), PMC & PMRDA as by now traffic jams towards Hinjawadi IT Park has become social media’s laughing stock! There is a joke going on whats-ap circuit that, “A man driving his BMW offers lift to a pedestrian  for his destination to Hinjawadi IT Park, on this the pedestrian replies, no thanks, I will reach earlier walking”! I think this show the grave situation of so called IT Park which is home to hundreds of world class companies & look what message we are sending to the world about the way we govern our civic infrastructure! Now the said proposed road goes through the Mhalunge village’s no development zone as where PMRDA has announced TP Scheme. By virtue of the TP scheme major development projects can be undertaken in this area which is spread over 450hectors. This TP scheme will be a great boost for the infra as well job creations in Pune region is said but as usual, the said scheme’s future is in dark due to “who is the Boss?” game, between PMRDA & Town Planning Dept! As per the news in media PMRDA says no need to take any cognizance of Town Planning dept about the TP Scheme plans where as State govt has asked PMRDA to take suggestions from TP about the same. This again is a joke as if PMRDA is a planning authority itself then why to take suggestion from another planning authority & if yes then what is meaning of “suggestions”? As the term suggestion can mean anything i.e. right from changing entire concept of TP Scheme to minor changes, so what if TP asks PMRDA to change entire plan? And in such case what’s the future of Mhalunge TP Scheme as well entire development of said area?

3.  Then another such joke is going about the so called hyped Ring Road as there are two ring roads, one by PMRDA & another by PWD (one more dept i.e. Public Works Dept, many call it as Public Wait Dept also). Now if PMRDA is formed for entire Pune region’s planning then how there can be another dept that too with same agenda as ring road? And then PWD is here from years before PMRDA came in existence, who has stopped them to plan the said ring road & mark it by now? This could have avoided PMRDA’s troubles of marking the road’s alignment & all it would have required to do is acquire the land for the road & develop it! Result is right now no one is sure about the alignment of ring road (rather which ring road is real) & who is going to do it & how? But that’s how the govt seems to work especially when its infrastructure as all it has to do is point the finger at each other & let common man wait for the road to come in reality!

4. And then comes the Transportation Hub by Smart City Corporation, oh yeah I forgot to mention this one more agency in the city as for those who might not be knowing our Pune city is Smart City also & there is separate company to see that it becomes smarter (off course if it’s already smart then it can only get smarter). Now don’t ask what this agency is doing & where is smartness as it’s a long term thing & in a city where public cycles are burnt or thrown in garbage the citizens either doesn’t need smart city or don’t deserve it. So from the dat5e of its birth i.e. formation of Smart City Company (or Corporation whatever it is) has locked its horns with its parental agency i.e. PMC. Every day there is news in media about the row over decisions taken by Smart City Company & PMC, may it be digital display board or road beautification! The latest tussle is an ambitious project declared by Smart City Co i.e. Transit Hub at Balewadi (a western suburb of Pune). On one side Smart City people have made great presentations & announcements about this project right from its utility for public transport to its employment generation & on other side PMC seems to be ignorant about the noble purpose of Transit Hub as it has refused to give the land where this so called Hub is going to come! And now the new twist is the said land doesn’t comes under the jurisdiction of PMC is what been told & the proposal to hand over this land to Smart City Co has been referred to State govt by PMC! Well, now you can imagine the future of the Transit Hub!

5. If all this confusion is about upcoming projects or infra structure then the existing tug of war is also on & most popular of them is water issue. For ages like in Marvel movies X men, all the time the good mutants & bad mutants are at war, here too PMC & irrigation dept of State is at war over the water consumption by Pune city (read citizens). Both sides have their own claims about use of water & needless to say both sides never agree on one figure! Can you imagine we are in 2018 & yet neither PMC nor Irrigation dept can conclude on one single figure of how much water Pune daily consumes! Obvious outcome is everyday Irrigation dept demands X amount from PMC for water & PMC declines & yet the so called smart city’s many parts always face water shortage! And on the top of it new twist is the water which is flowing through the city from the canals will now be run through pipe line & claims are nearly 3 TMC water which is currently wasted due to losses will be saved & this 3 TMC will be given to PMRDA! Great, wonderful, wow, I am at loss of words to praise the governance of this city & do mind we are No 1 or No 2 Smart City in the country, god save other cities, if it is so! When issue is water then that’s the most neglected aspect in urban planning & we don’t need Nostradamus to tell us about over what the next world war will be but water. I don’t know about world war but war between all above agencies has already started & in no time it will reach to citizens & will be fought on street if this negligent approach of all the planning authorities continues!

Above is just trailer or teasers of what’s going on the front of city planning. As there is one more authority now in game & that is Green Tribunal which intervenes on many planning decisions including even over ruling DC ire Development Control Rules made by PMC or PCMC or PMRDA! May it be hill top hill slope or natural water sources conservation; no two minds about importance of conserving nature in & around the city but sit together & make the rules or guide lines once for all is what a common man (read developer) will say! As every new day comes with new policy or change in planning making working near impossible & then we are supposed to provide homes for millions of the citizens who or else get succumbed to illegal constructions which are made without bothering for any of above mentioned authorities as eventually the God Father of all these agencies i.e. Mai Baap Sarkar regularizes every illegal construction is a fact!

What I wonder is exactly what State Govt is intend to do with real estate of this city rather with entire city, why just real estate! Because if decentralization is the target you are working then why PMC or PCMC or PMRDA or Smart City Co has to take approval from Sate Govt for every now & then( read UD i.e. Urban Development Dept)! And if State Govt wants to keep all the controls in its hands (read Mantralay), then why form so many agencies as planning authorities because all you have to do is make a central urban planning commission for entire Pune region, make a once for all master plan, take noc’s or approval from environment dept & give this master plan for execution to the local authorities. At the same time ensure that the local authorities have been given powers to execute this master plan & they are using these powers for delivering the outcome! And outcome is same whether you are PMC or PCMC or PMRDA i.e. the citizen needs a simple liveable life where if nor ample but adequate water will be available through taps, the roads will be in good condition, public transport of all sorts & not just Metro, electricity on demand will be available, drainage lines network in place, lots of open spaces & greenery. Just give this & rest will follow i.e. education, public health, entertainment & jobs! Unfortunately right now the city has nothing of above but only too many parents, making citizens confused whose baby it is & if things continued on the same track then no wonder soon we will be called as Orphan City if not Smart City!

Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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