Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Golden Jubilee of Independence Day & Freedom to Own a Home !!

 













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“Freedom doesn’t mean that you are free to do whatever you want, part of it is true yet, freedom is understanding our responsibility towards society as without responsibility no freedom is worth” … Me. (Lol)

Sorry, I am not that great in putting my thoughts in minimum words, yet when it comes to celebrating Golden Jubilee i.e., 75 years of our country's freedom, I thought of using my own words (can't call it, a quote) to start. First of all, this sharing is not to boost or shame us as a country of as a society neither to congratulate our own selves for this day as indeed we (read as Me) are proud of our country & cherish our freedom & country’s achievements but so does every human being or supposed to of his or her respective country & that’s fine! Issue is not about celebrating freedom, issue is about understanding freedom as well analyzing what we have done with what we have understood, that’s the crux of my sharing! I don’t claim I have understood & I am ideal citizen of this country but I can always try to be one & its only by sharing what I have understood about being ideal citizen I can correct myself for becoming better, right? If you think this dosage of philosophy is too much then I can’t help as when the subject is as complex as freedom & responsibilities then philosophies are bound be bit complex especially for our fellow countrymen whose only way of celebrating (may it be Freedom Day or any Mahapuruh’s Birthday) is to make loudest noise with speaker walls & rallies on Bullet (it's nothing to do with a gun but a two-wheeler with eardrum bursting engine firing)! Rather the louder the noise generated by every possible means the more the love, affection (read as patriotism) for the cause of celebration & I am sure the 15th Aug 22 won't also be an exception to this!


This is where the concept of understanding freedom comes into the picture but before that lets take a look at the spectrum of what has happened till now in the last 75 years as a country, let’s have a look at it. Well, I am 50 plus by age so I have witnessed 2/3 part of the journey of 75 years of this country & let me tell you, it’s amazing as I remember (those who are 45 plus by age) standing in the queue in front of a ration shop with cloth bags in hand for 1 kg of sugar, 3 kg of wheat & a ration card. I remember wearing a slipper (rubber chappal) all day long i.e., for school & for playing cricket & for attending family functions too, in the same set of chappals. I remember taking my dad’s Luna to fill the petrol in it which was Rs 3 / liter. I remember getting a set of clothes that too stitched from a local tailor only once in a year & on occasion of Diwali. I remember waiting for 3 hours at Karve Road telephone exchange just to convey my BE (i.e. final year engg.) result to my parents by STD from a public booth. I remember adjusting wire-mesh antenna of our Radio to listen Binaca Geet Mala, a program used to air on Ceylon Station once a week & which was only mean to have access to Bollywood trending music & there are such several stories which those who are say 40 plus genre by age can remember or connect with!

And it’s my genre only which today uses an iPhone 13 Pro worth    Rs. 1 lakhs (well, I don’t use an iPhone, just giving an example) & can feed a family for six months with that phone's price! Today you don’t have to wait for 3 hours to convey your result to your parents but in a minute it's open to the entire world. Today I don’t see many people standing in the queue for sugar or wheat but most get it delivered at their home via app or Amazon or Dunzo & why sugar or wheat now you get best of cooked food also delivered at your doorsteps within an hour from you order! Now, no boy has to fidget with the antenna of a radio or TV to listen or watch the latest movie’s songs but on one click you can get songs in the making also to watch & listen!  Neither one has to wait for hours on dirty railway platforms for their train to arrive & air travel is not a privilege of only a few super rich but a middle-class teacher family (just the way mine was) can afford to fly! So many such things which my generation remembers now look like from different life or some other planet, this is what has changed in the last 75 years! And yes, with all the limitations & challenges, our country has survived the worst enemy in the recent history of man-kind i.e., war with Covid Virus, & that itself is the biggest achievement which we must be proud of!

Above all changes in the life style are possible because the country has not only survived but prospered & people like me are not just the witness for the prosperity but are the beneficiaries as well & this indeed is success of each of us that a poor country with no knowledge-base or technology for assistance is today at par with world’s some of the most developed countries on many fronts! Today even after 75 years of freedom, when on many fronts we have done wonderful achievements yet there are few fronts where we have a lot to achieve, as still today millions of people don’t have access to proper basic facilities such as medical, education or quality drinking water & most important, they don’t have a basic good home! I think right to own a basic home should be the main agenda hereafter if we consider this 15th Aug as Golden Jubilee milestone in the journey of our country & I am not saying this because I am a builder but because by giving a basic good home to every family we can answer to our many unsolved questions related to the society, which are haunting us for decades!

The first challenge in giving a good basic home to everyone is controlling our population because if on one side our 140-crore population is a boon or say the strength of our country then to provide space (read as a home) to all these 140 crores is something even God will find difficult! And when I say a basic good home then it means good water, good power supply, drainage system, proper transportation, school, health facilities along & it’s all these fronts which we are not up to the mark, is a fact. Indeed, for lucky few they have all these factors essential for good life in the form of a home but remaining many doesn’t & that’s the reason of illegal homes (slums) mushrooming all over the country as each of us need a shelter to take rest at the end of the day making a home basic & most important necessity of the life. And then the problem is land is limited or say fixed, we can’t increase land though we can increase land potential but then that also is possible only with the lands which have basic potential of becoming a home in the first place. What this means is even if land is available with whatsoever buildable potential but if that land is in Rajasthan’s desert or in Leah’s mountains, is there any use of such land? Answer is no, because people will need homes where they have jobs, education, means of survival if not prospering & livable environment & such lands are limited making the right of a good home more difficult to execute for the most!

And then the “Mai Baap” govt instead of just announcing “Home for Everyone” type slogans should act in reality for making this happen. But fact is, the govt which makes suitable policies such as making basic infra like land, water, roads, power available to all the industries at free or negligible price, the same govt puts (read as force) conditions on the real estate industry (read as builders) to make available basic things like water, access roads & drainage (& many more) available to the home buyers by the developers on their cost! This is where not just the govt but entire society (media guys are you reading?) must come forward & work on the policies which will ensure removal of every hurdle in making good homes available to everybody as per his or her need! In 75 years, we are able to give an automobile to most of us same is with a cell phone & even food also but not everybody here is free to buy a home of his or her will & that’s why we are not yet free on the most basic aspect of the life i.e., owning a home! Do mind, when I say a good home for the humans then it’s our responsibility only to accommodate nature & all other species from the tiger to a sparrow in that home! And then a good home is what helps best in making good citizens which eventually can change the fate of the country, right? So, while we celebrate this Golden Jubilee year on 15th Aug 22, let’s take an oath to have a freedom on home owning front for every citizen, as what’s the point in celebrating freedom of a country where most of the citizens has to sleep on the roads or in the illegal homes, worrying for next day which will be 16th Aug 22, mind it!

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Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4xX7eopH5o&t=5s

 

Please do visit my blog links below to read about real estate & home buying! 

https://visonoflife.blogspot.com/2021/09/choosing-right-home.html

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.com/2021/09/blog-post_21.html


Creating Togetherness; team Sanjeevani Way (Click link below) 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/albums/72157627904681345

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

www.punecorporation.org

Take your issues to Hon PM at link below..

https://secure.mygov.in/

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Sunday, August 7, 2022

TDR, Real Estate, Government & the City!








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“Action is the proof of understanding.” … Tamsen Webster

Tamsen Webster has spent the last twenty years helping experts drive action from their ideas. Part message strategist, part storyteller, part English-to-English translator, her work focuses on how to find and build the stories partners, investors, clients, and customers will tell themselves-and others! Wow, no wonder, with that kind of profile she can pin down the concept of development or say growth in just six words, that simple!  Unfortunately, when it comes to policies & that too, related with the real estate then we (read as Mai Bapp govt) forget the word or say terminology, “simplicity” because everyday something new challenge (read as hurdle) real estate has to face on policy front which directly affects the growth or development! Latest salvo rather salvos fired by govt is TDR policy & then there is our evergreen RERA which keeping all due respect with its intentions makes me wonder whether it’s to make life of people related with real estate easy or more miserable! I know, speaking anything against RERA (that too by a builder) is an offense which many will say should meet by death penalty (thankfully there isn’t such provision) yet it’s not what I am saying or what any law says but it’s the facts of the industry that governs the markets or say life!

Ok, coming to the first aspect around which entire real estate economics moves & that’s been a pivotal point for last few decades & obviously govt is going to mess up with its fullest & no wonder now it has come up with a circular (policy) by which any TDR can be used anywhere. It means TDR of city area can be used in merged villages of the city i.e., new city limit. First & foremost I have never understood this joke of old city & new city thing which we (read as PMC & PCMC) are playing for long, means from the year when first batch of villages were merged in PMC (PMC is aamche Pune) limits which is in year 1999. Since then, villages around PMC limits have been merged, demerged & remerged in PMC, which means making them part of PMC. This journey of villages in to PMC is more interesting than Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage of Ben Affleck & JLO i.e. Jennifer Lopez or Richard Burton & Liz Taylor (these are Hollywood couples & those who don't get connected with this analogy, they can ignore it)! Because, first some villages are declared to be part of Pune city by one govt (read as in ruling) & then another govt removed some villages from those merged villages & later again the new govt added removed as well few more villages in to PMC limits, the game is still on as recently I read in the newspapers that two of the merged villages are opting to move out of PMC because of lack of infrastructure even after becoming part of PMC! Lol, with this even the Kothrud & Sadashiv Peths’ also can opt for getting out of PMC as infrastructure is becoming a part of concern even for the core city but that’s another aspect of sharing!

As of now let’s focus on TDR, which is like “Sim, Sim” word for the real estate in the city! I won’t waste much words in explaining TDR as by now even a small school going kid knows it yet TDR is notional index which relates FSI or say allowable buildable area which you can add on any land & which you get in lieu of reservation land you surrender to the local body i.e., PMC/PCMC. I wish this has been that simple but unfortunately for various reasons (most of them are wrong reasons only) the day TDR term came into existence like a cursed character in Marvel movies, it was & is, always has been in news for the chaos it has created. And nothing wrong with the concept of TDR as that is proven way to get reservation lands for the civic bodies in cheapest & fastest possible option, wrong is the way policies made by the govt (read as all the system) regarding consumption of this TDR!

When started, the TDR was supposed to be created & consumed in the respective zones which were A, B & C zones depending upon location of your land under reservation & the land on which it is to be consumed. That itself was a mistake as in A zone which was the central part of the city, TDR was available but no land to develop. So later it’s been allowed to be used in any zone of any zone’s TDR but related to ready reckoner value of land under reservation vs land where this TDR is to be used or say loaded, (one more chaos policy). Then in addition to the mess, the govt created one more type of TDR naming it as Slum TDR, meaning TDR generated by developing slums in the city. Obliviously now it’s like two siblings to look after in one family, so again more chaos to give justice to both the TDRs’ that first slum TDR will be used & then regular TDR can be uses, it’s like applying reservation policy in the use of TDR (again sorry, just showing analogy, I neither support nor oppose reservation policy)! Result was, the TDR policy which created more confusion & unrest in the real estate fraternity as well the landlords, because even in the home, when you try to make both the siblings happy, at a time then usually you end up making them unhappy along with yourself, same thing happened with slum TDR & normal TDR!


And if all this was not enough the govt introduced paid FSI along with TOD (whatever it meant) or say additional FSI for Metro corridor; this was like adopting one more (rather two) child when you already have twins in the home. And needless to say, to accommodate these two new kids (read as make them too happy) the govt made more policies which only added to chaos in real estate as well TDR consumption. As seeing the growth in real estate govt wanted to have more of this cake for itself (what else) & to generate revenue came up as paid FSI in the city (PMC/ PCMC) while this policy was not applicable for PMRDA (one more joke) & to promote Metro there has been additional FSI for the land coming around Metro track (I have lost counting joke number). This was a direct threat to the rates of TDR & Slum TDR as after all TDR is nothing but a bitcoin of real estate & outcome was a downfall in the rates of normal TDR. So, the govt again came-up with one more policy for TDR consumption setting up guidelines for use of TDR, TOD as well Paid FSI in the vein of trying to make all three kids happy while TOD kid is still in dilemma as it’s like an orphan & even today nobody is sure about what should be policy about use of TOD! At the same time govt now issued an order allowing the use of TDR in old city limits on the lands in the new city (merged villages, remember?) so that there will be takers for the TDR but again related it to ready reckoner rates. It’s like you can fly on the surface of the moon with your body weight where gravity is seven time lesser than that on the earth (sorry tried a different analogy), what it means is 100 sft of TDR from old city, say Deccan will be some 1000 sft if you use it in Fursungi or Kirkitwadi! Again, here govt has forgotten the fifth child i.e., reservation land’s TDR in the merged villages, where you will use it, in Rajasthan or Bihar, is the question I would like to put forward here! And on top of it there are parallel jokes like in PCMC there is no slum TDR available or in making so how you are going to use that portion; nobody has any answers for all these questions because to get a right answer first the question has to be right!

Now, one will ask what all this has to do with real estate & rate of the homes, right? Well, the answer is TDR aspect is like land cost itself for the developer because if the landlords know what’s potential of his land (that they know perfectly now a days) but at what rate you have to buy this TDR & what will be the consumption number, if the developer doesn’t know this then how he will buy the land in the first place? And if the developer is a fool (most of them are) to play blind & buy the land then what will be the future of such a project where you don’t know the cost of the raw material of the product itself, is the govt interested in answering this question?

Actually, the solution is very simple, why you bound TDR with so many policies, just open it & & let it be free, all you do is frame the rules related to height as well margins & let anybody use any amount or type of TDR & charge it on the % basis of the figure of the TDR consumed just the way GST is, and use the funds generated out of this TDR GST for whatever purpose the govt wants to use, but govt doesn’t wants simpler solutions is the main problem! This is the crux of the entire TDR aspect of real estate at present. On top of all this, one aspect about which everyone is silent (conveniently) & that is, what are we going to do with so much TDR & buildings, what about infrastructure to accommodate this much construction (read as homes) as well environment conservation around us?

It’s like everybody wants benefits of the TDR just the way with the seniors in the family which wants all of their siblings must get good marks in the exam, has to be well behaved, should be best in sports as well peruse extracurricular activities in the school but no member of the family is ready to spend their time for helping the kids to achieve this, same is the story with of the govt & TDR & we expect ease of doing business in the real estate along with affordable homes for all; amen!

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Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4xX7eopH5o&t=5s

 

Please do visit my blog links below to read about real estate & home buying! 

https://visonoflife.blogspot.com/2021/09/choosing-right-home.html

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.com/2021/09/blog-post_21.html


Creating Togetherness; team Sanjeevani Way (Click link below) 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/albums/72157627904681345

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

www.punecorporation.org

Take your issues to Hon PM at link below..

https://secure.mygov.in/

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Tiger Day, Tigers & Humans!

 
















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“There is nothing like the thrill of walking through the jungle looking for a tiger and knowing they could be watching you already.” — Ashlan Gorse Cousteau

Ashlan Gorse Cousteau is an American entertainment journalist. She is known for her work with E! News, Discovery Channel, and Travel Channel. She along with her husband Philippe Cousteau have produced and appeared together in several educational and environmental television programs. Indeed, Ms Ashlan because of her work must have travelled a lot in the forests & her observation about tigers watching you is to the perfection as I myself also have experienced that feeling, that’s what a tiger’s presence can make the difference in any forest making that animal very very special in the chain of wildlife!  That's why when the subject of sharing is Global Tiger Day, I used her words to start, though this day often called as International Tiger Day, is an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation, held annually on 29 July. Indeed, the presence of the tiger is hardly in ten countries across the Globe just like the game of cricket yet it is the talk of the world (again just like the cricket) when it comes to wildlife, is a fact! This day was created in 2010 at the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit in Russia, where for the first time all the countries with the habitats of tigers meet up for its conservation. Since then, the day is celebrated or said being followed is the right term for tiger conservation.

Many people, even activists, will say when we have Earth Day, Environment Day, Forest Day, Wildlife Day & many such, then why we need Global Tiger Day & I won’t blame them as it's this unawareness about wildlife as whole which has arisen the need of celebrating the Tiger Day! It’s because a tiger though is just one of the links in the nature cycle but is an important link, just the way a Captain of a Cricket team is one of the eleven members yet it's special as he holds the team together, the same way a tiger’s presence keeps balance in the jungle! A tiger in any forest means the forest has to be complete with all sorts of flora & fauna which includes various trees, creepers, grass, bamboo & many such which are essential for every sort of animals & birds & then a tiger needs water bodies also, so the avion life also has to be there. And when there is a tiger in any forest then  on one side if the tiger itself has threat from human poachers but on the other side many humans keep distance from other elements of that forest such as illegal wood cutting or hunting of smaller animals in that forest, so in a way the tiger is protector of that forest also, this is why when a tiger is saved, we are actually saving a life cycle & Global Tiger Day is in a way tribute to the tiger for its role in the forests!

And when one young journalist Mansi called me for my quote on Tiger Day with the questioner below, I was more than happy to share my views about the same. And to my surprise she has extensively covered many aspects in her questions which in a way are thought churning for me, so I decided to use the same for my sharing, here we go…

Hi, please find below the questions for World Tiger Day.

1.   What is the present condition of the species in Maharashtra/India… I take it species means Tiger, so the best (or say good news) is India is the only country where Tiger population is actually increasing, while all around the world its reverse case. And we should congratulate our  Govt (Central & State) as well every person, organization which is part of the system we call forest conservation. At the same time, let's not forget that every year nearly some 150 plus tigers die also due to mainly human intervention & that’s something we need to control, is the scene about the species at present.

2. What has the government done to protect tigers?... Right from creating Project Tiger i.e. reserved protected forest dedicated to tiger conservation, which started way back in 1974, the govt has done many things for tigers. The National Tiger Conservation Authority was established in December 2005, following a recommendation of the Tiger Task Force, constituted by the Prime Minister of India for reorganised management of Project Tiger and the many Tiger Reserves in India. And then the State govt also has formed many sanctuaries as well reserved forest so the tigers can be protected from humans. Though the working of NTCA cant be considered as right every time yet it’s a dedicated effort for tiger conservation for sure.

3. In which areas are tigers thriving?... Considering our Maharashtra State, it's mainly in eastern part of the State which is called as Vidarbha. Tadoba, Pench, Melghat project tigers in these parts as well UKWS, Bor, Dnyanganaga, Tipeshwar are many sanctuaries where tigers have made their habitat & growing in population. The main reason is less urbanization in this part of the State which enables the tiger to have its place yet the prey base remains an issue making the tiger kill cattle or domestic animals thus creating man animal conflict. In other parts of the State, we have just one project Tiger i.e., Sahyadri, Project Tiger located in Kolhapur district.

4. Which forests take better care of tigers?... Obviously, the Project Tigers are best forests for taking care of the tigers as one must understand there is a difference between a zoo & a forest. In any forest the tiger lives on its own terms & it doesn’t understand boundaries created by humans but humans have to follow those boundaries, right? This is not easy to control especially with less infrastructure forest dept which has to deal with major challenges like fighting with other depts as well human population living around the tigers. And they also can’t be blamed as living with a tiger roaming around isn’t an easy job for any human being!

5. According to you, what's the future?...  Future of tiger you meant; at the present, it depends on what course humans decide for themselves is what will decide the future of the tiger. If this reply seems straight from Star Wars or Harry Potter philosophy, then I can’t help it because one, I love these both stories most & second, that is the truth! Because tigers or any other species can’t think on their own for their future & even if they can think they are too weak or no match for their prime enemy which indirectly or directly is humans! So, unless we humans start thinking about the future of the tigers, it's difficult to say if it will be good or bad. At present it seems difficult because it's not just about the population because like any species can reproduce given suitable conditions (like the humans), the problem is about the space for the new population (again same as humans) which is the outcome of the reproduction! On one side we are unable to provide proper shelter, food to humans itself because we are unable to control our population, how the new population of the tigers will get their space to grow? Our answers (read as actions) to this question will decide the future of the tigers!

6. Do you think days like these are helpful? … Well, days like this are definitely not going to harm for sure, right? About being helpful then we must use days like Tiger Day to reach out to more & more people who don’t know what tiger needs to live rather than just posting images of tigers taken by hi-tech cameras that too by only those who can afford to go to forests with tigers & click! First & foremost thing is making wildlife tourism (with tigers) affordable to all & open all areas as everybody has a right on the tiger i.e., to see that majestic beauty as then only everybody can join the moment to make the future of the tiger better!

7. What was the driving force that led you to lend a helping hand to protect tigers?... I am from a region where the tiger population is most i.e., from Vidarbha & by my academics of environment I get to know a bit about habitats & forests as well balancing of nature. And then I build homes for humans because I am a civil engg (and a builder too), so who will build or say create spaces for tigers along with its chain of life, is the question I ask myself, that’s the driving force for me to do my bit for the tiger! And then if not me, then who?

To conclude all I will say is, thanks Mansi, as your questioner gave me a chance to share my views on tigers elaborately & let me tell you, every one of us lives for survival but high time we must understand the meaning of living & as well survival. It’s the responsibility of the survival to see that others also survive especially those who are weaker as survival of the fittest doesn’t mean only the fit will survive but it means, the fittest will help entire life cycle to survive, this understanding is what differentiate the humans from all other animals & this is why only the humans can practice or follow Tiger Day & not vice versa, so be it!

--

Sanjay Deshpande 

smd156812@gmail.com

Sanjeevani Dev.

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

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4xX7eopH5o&t=5s

 

Please do visit my blog links below to read about real estate & home buying! 

https://visonoflife.blogspot.com/2021/09/choosing-right-home.html

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.com/2021/09/blog-post_21.html


Creating Togetherness; team Sanjeevani Way (Click link below) 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/65629150@N06/albums/72157627904681345

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

www.punecorporation.org

Take your issues to Hon PM at link below..

https://secure.mygov.in/

Think Green, Think Life

www.sanjeevanideve.com


Saturday, July 23, 2022

Kanha, Rains, Leopards, Tigers & Sal Trees!

                                       








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“The time I spent in the jungles held unalloyed happiness for me, and that happiness I would now gladly share. My happiness, I believe, resulted from the fact that all wildlife is happy in its natural surroundings. In nature there is no sorrow, and no repining. A bird from a flock, or an animal from a herd, is taken by hawk or carnivorous beast and those that are left rejoice that their time had not come today, and have no thought of tomorrow” …  Jim Corbett (Jungle Lore)

Once again, its forest diary time & once again (as usual) Jim’s words are at my rescue to open the gate of memories of the moments I have spent in the wilderness & when it’s my most favourite jungle i.e., Kanha to write about then what better than to have my most favorite person (not just a writer) who’s above words I live by, every time when I visit jungles! Jim Corbett is one of the most celebrated wild lifers across African & Indian Himalayan forests & is known for his work regarding tigers as well conservation. Though (unfortunately) Jim is more known as' hunter of maneaters’ which he never liked & his books about his experiences during those hunts are more popular it’s his other books about forests such as Jungle Lore, gives us best insights about the forests in totality!

And needless to say, later when I started visiting forests by myself all these books helped me a lot to decode the language with which forests speak with us! This, you might think too much watching Potter Movies or Star Wars series as an alien language type but just think about the time you spend in forest & the kind of creatures you meet there & you will realize it’s no less than some Star Wars or Wizarding world ride! And when that forest is of Kanha then fasten your seatbelts as the ride is not just going to be a lot bumpier (literally) but hell lot exciting also. First & best thing about Kanha is the landscape, the ever-green Sal trees expand is just infinite & in between those thick Sal trees ocean there are equal huge patches of grasslands i.e., meadows & the hills & the yellow clay clad roads on every turn of which you can expect anything can happen, this is Kanha!

I have been as regular visitor of Kanha as the Indian Pitta (a colourful migratory bird) in the Central Indian forests but last three years I have missed the bus & the moment my care left main road from Chirai Dongari (a village from where road for Kanha starts from main highway), I could feel the air filled with Sal tree’s fragrance & my heartbeats started running faster than the car! Well, again sorry for too much drama in writing which you may think a bit over but this happens with me, every-time when I visit Kanha, so be it! It was May end & as it happened to me for my last many Kanha trips the clouds also fooled me to this place. Earlier my mood used to be as gloomy as the weather whenever I used to see cloudy rain filled sky as that means gone are the chances of seeing a tiger in clear but no more as forests has taught me to be patient as well to enjoy the moods of it which changes faster than your wife’s or girlfriend’s moods, & all you should do is just ride with them! And so, the first safari started with rain-covered sky, fortunately Pratap, our regular veteran driver, was ready with hood & so was the rain. Every time when I visit forests there is a hidden wish list in my mind (greedy mind actually) that I should get to see this & that types & of-late I have learnt to bury that wish list deep within as or else you end up losing the charm of other things which are in front of you, yet the list is there. This time it was long. I have seen a leopard in Kanha & never in rains, so that hidden wish list was tickling me from within but I knew sighting a leopard in Kanha itself is a rarity & in rains the chances get near impossible. The major problem with Kanha rains is, they come with strong wind & thunderbolts which is really scary & making every animal around to run for shelter & in such times sightings becomes really difficult. Another problem is with plastic hood on, your own sighting gets restricted to whatever comes in front of the gypsy only as sides are covered & leopards are not the animals (at least in Kanha) that they will walk on road in rains! Yet when one gypsy coming from other side told us that there is a leopard on tree ahead at a spot we couldn’t believe as why then this gypsy has left that spot (dirty doubtful minds)! Well, the simple reason was their gypsy’s hood was not giving them proper shelter & trust me those who have not experienced getting caught in open forest in the Kanha rains, that’s not something “Kamjor Dilwale” can't stand! That was the sole reason the said gypsy must have left the spot where they had seen the leopard & with full excitement & hope that the leopard will be still there, we rushed ahead. And to my tick my wish-list, there was a leopard relaxing on a sla tree branch & indeed it was difficult to sight it through water dripping from hood & fog on my Spects & the green canopy but instead getting irritated with all these hurdles I was happy as that was making the sighting more exciting! We spend nearly an hour just watching the leopard on the tree which only because of rains must have halted there for so long time & while it was in comfortable position, we have to to all the efforts to keep ourselves dry & yet try to click the leopard by manoeuvring the gypsy as only one window through the canopy of the trees was open for clicking the right shots! This is Kanha, I reminded myself & it never sends you empty handed!  Later for the next three safaris I was just trying to fill in as much landscape in my mind as I can & rain was playing hide & seek with us all two days yet we could see the tiger also!

I am the jungle & Jungle is Me"...

On the 2nd day morning also we just experienced heavy shower, these were first showers of summer & in the past I have witnessed strange behaviour of the tiger of coming out on roads & drink water from the puddle, maybe they like the clay mixed taste of the fresh rain water! So, I mentioned this to our guide & said "bhai, fikar na karo, raste ka pani pine koi to tiger aa hi jayega road par" (i.e., boss, don’t get upset due to rains, as to drink rain water on the road, some tiger will definitely come out, so did Jr Bajarang (local name of that male tiger)! " Sometimes it requires daring, not to use big lenses' ', is what pro wildlife photographer Kedar Bhat said recently, while addressing a gathering of photographers! And I agree with him 100% as indeed to take a close shot of a tiger is nice, feeling every hair on its body & those eyes piercing your lens yet a tiger is at its best in the forest, becoming part of it, this is how I saw Jr. Bajrang, through 70 mm & dared to keep 500mm aside (for a while)! Nothing beats the way a tiger walks on forest roads & when the road is Sal aligned forests then the entire landscape is no match for any big screen, even for 70 mm cinema-scope movies! The dusty road, the greens, the fresh rain drops, alarm calls of spotted deer in the background & every onlooker's breath on hold, there he walks, after drinking the water from road puddle, Jr Bajrang displayed this whole scene to us & vanished in the roadside thickets along with the alarm calls of spotted deer! The entire drama may have lasted for some 20 minutes but for us it’s like time has stopped for ever, this is what you take back from forests i.e., lifelong memorable moments!

Recently (may be from last 3 years) Kanha Forest dept has started night safaris & its something which the tourists must not miss even if you may cancel a morning safari, in case you are worried for sleep deprivation for next day morning safari for which you have to wake up at 4a.m! Because the night safari starts at 7pm i.e., post sun set & you can explore the forests around the core zone till 10 pm at night & trust me nothing beats being in the forests as there you realize what is pitch darkness! In our urban life we actually never experience darkness to its fullest because of the illumination from the glow of thousands of gadgets around even if we turn the lights off. The sky also is always greyish blue or white because of the reflection of lights on the ground but it's in the forests with no artificial light emitting objects in the surrounding you realize how the animals are far superior than humans in the darkness! Many will say why waste time as you hardly can see anything (read as tiger) in the buffer even in day time but the forest is more alive at nights with many species such as Martin, Porcupine, Hyena which are nocturnal and come out for hunting after sunset. Even the tiger prefers to hunt at night & agreed one can’t photograph at night safaris but not all forest moments are needed to be captured on the camera, some are to be lived by your own self & night safari is one such. And in our night safari we spotted a male tiger, so the myth that you don’t get to see much in night safari was also cleared. First thing is, buffers & core are boundaries defined for humans for their management system, for a tiger or any animal forest is forest & they are free to roam anywhere. So, to spot a tiger or any big animal in night safari needs equal luck which you need in main day safari in the core area of the forest. And second thing, what you get to experience in the night safari is, to feel the forest by other senses than eyes (seeing), you learn to smell the fragrance, hear the smallest of the sounds around & yes you can sharpen your vision to see in the darkness too!  

Well, we did meet many forest officials & locals, another must thing which the tourists should try as then only you realize what you can give back to the forests. Places like Kanha if on one side are blessed with nature then other side are deprived by the luxuries of life which modernization brings & here is where we can extend our hand on many fronts to make the life of the locals a bit better! Right from skill development training such as plumbing, electrician or tiling to solar maintenance, many things we can teach them (Credai Members do read). As well you can contribute by money to organizations which are involved in working with forest dept as that’s our duty towards forests is what I always urge! You can write to us for any info or assistance about how you can contribute for the Kanha as well other forests at our email id’s as well visit our web sites below my sharing.

Two days for Kanaha forests are actually very less but I had my scheduled program ahead so I left with heavy heart those Sal trees with a promise to return soonest!

-

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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