Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pune ,Kal ,aaj aani Udya! ( Pune ,yesturday, toaday & tommorow!)

A great city is not to be confounded with a populous one. . Aristotle
Comparatively I am that way a new comer to this city, like many of us who have come here for education & fall in love with the city & got settled here only. Now more than 50% of my total age has been in this city so I can consider myself as Puneri, though the Nagpuri tag does shows in language, especially if Hindi is the medium J
Whenever some one asks me what’s you feel the most important plus point of this city? And I strongly feel that the backbone of our city is the Social as well Cultural base of the people living city.

 A city is recognized by the people residing in the city & not just by the monuments in the city or products manufactured in the city. I am sure the nature & attitude of Pune is one of the most social as well culture oriented, that too because of the residents & their attitude. Its one of the safest & most cultured city in compare to any other cities of its size, not just in our country but across the Globe. Look at the Ganesh procession, over a million people including toddlers to oldies on street for whole night! In any other country they would have required an army to control the crowd & in Pune just a thousand policemen are there, they too with just lathis, can control the mob. Rather they are mere observer; the crowd in itself is so much at control that one hardly required any thing special to do.
The real estate (it’s a commercial term, what I meant here is housing) is here since last 40 years i.e. right from late 70’s. But the Sky Line of the city has changed significantly in these last 25 years only. It’s like Tendulakar taking his own time to settle for first 10 odd over & then changing gears & speeding up to cover the lost over! Till late 80’s the city was growing just like any normal town i.e. responding to the natural growth & as an outcome of Panshet calamity. It’s in late 80’s the City started getting recognized as Industrial hub with big industries especially Auto & Ancillaries started setting in PCMC area. Naturally any big industry needs man power & man power needs residence. So responding this new demand many people saw the opportunity & here the Real Estate started in real means. Yet till mid 90’s the buildings were monotonous as there were restrictions on height, coverage, tenement density, fsi etc. At the same time the customers were also raw with basic demands as four walls. I remember Kadappa otta & colored tiles were considered as very high end amentias & canceled plumbing & wiring was meant for only super riches! And this was till early 90’s. Lifts were not common & not relied, so there were Ground plus 3/4 storied structures. Parking wasn’t’ mandatory under the building & that’s why we see road side parking in front of many building in then suburbs like of Karve road,Ideal colony, Bibwewadi which are now considered as center part of the city.
After mid 90 the picture started changing rapidly as outcome of Y2K many of the computer engineers have started visiting western countries regularly, the mechanical industry was getting ready to be equipped with newer technologies to compete with world market, IT industry was setting footholds in the city & a new industry was emerging in & around the city i.e. Education Industry! All these developments generated a totally new breed of customers for the real estate industry which was till then making homes for pensioners mostly! This new customer was well aware about the modern life style & the facilities it offers, so he stared demanding the same from the developer & the real estate has to respond positively! The Development rules got modified & 11 storied building started with multi level parking, sit outs, terraces becomes important aspect of the design & elevation of the building also become a selling factor of the project!
It’s not just residential building but the need for commercial buildings, corporate offices also started increasing & so was the demand for exclusive shopping malls & multi plexus too. The real estate stared getting used to the terminology like Commercial building, IT Park, Malls, Townships, and Mega Townships. So was the sky line of the city. The existing city limit got extended in start of 2000 & so were the rules of the development.
Yet it took late 2000 for raising the bar of the height for the buildings to 100meter i.e. 30 storid! Still Pune isn’t as height loving as Mumbai & the reason is simple. In Mumbai till first 10 floors you don’t get fresh air & all you see around is slum, so it after 10 stories one start enjoying the advantages of going high. Where as in Pune even after 4/5th floors you get a good view around & fresh air. Also here we have increased height norm but the FSI is same. The TDR also is allowed maximum of 1.6, which don’t compensate for the expenses incurred in going for sky scraper. That’s why you still see around most buildings of 11 or 12 storied. Yet a lot of variety can be seen in facade i.e. elevations of the buildings & that because of trying to give something different & better to the customer. Especially in commercial building with lots of glass & alucobond material, the city has really started getting ready to become a metro.
And here is where we need think about how we want to make our city look? As it’s not only governing body but the developers also have to play a major role. In making something different we should not spoil the face of the streets & architects too have to be cautious on this front. Similarly it’s important that the bio diversity also has to be maintained along with the looks of the structures. The building should be designed to serve the purpose for what they are being build & importance should be given to the utility first & then let the asthetics follow.

What I feel is there must be proper infrastructure to nourish this backbone of the city, which unfortunately isn't happening. A city isn't just Sky scrapers or Malls or IT parks. A city is people living in & their class i.e. standard of living is what matters which is offered by the city within the city to its residents.

Till today majority of the class is educated, forward looking, thinking citizens but the local bodies as well the infrastructure providing authorities should ensure that this class remains. With the growth, all types of people are going to migrate in the city & not all can afford the luxuries of the life at any price. We need to take care of all the basic needs of this class. And this is where unauthorized developments start if the demands of every class aren't fulfilled, as housing is a basic need for every class of the society. The problem with us is when it comes to planning, we are extremely poor & it’s not about the ideas but about concluding on some concrete solution. The issues are many from infrastructure to environment to education & yes we are not short of bright minds, but I think that’s the curse too!

There always are two types of Infrastructure, one is Physical such as Roads, Water, Drainage, Power, Public Health etc & other is Social such as all the Festivals we have, Cultural programs going on all around the year, the quality of Education we have, Sports facilities as well the environment we enjoy.

We have to provide enough space to the people to socialize frequently & with out obstruction. We need good auditoriums, theaters where artists can perform. In comparison to the population as well expand of the city we have hardly 3-4 performing theaters ,BalGandharva, Ganesh Krida, Yashwantrao Chavan & they too are planned /built more than a decade back. There isn't a single good art museum in the city, the libraries/reading facilities are vanishing. If we want a society to be in good state of mind set then we should have enough outlets for the same. We don’t have enough play grounds, for e.g. take a look at Karve road, in the whole stretch of Varje to Nalstop, just 1 Ideal colony ground i.e. in 7 km one sports facility! How you expect the kids becoming sports savvy! The same scenario is on all major suburbs in the city
You count the public sport facilities in the city& there is a big
void on that front also. The same scenario is on all major
suburbs in the city. These are just some facts about the city. Unfortunately city civic body has faced off this reality. We talk
only about Roads, Water, Traffic, and Greening when it comes to city infrastructure but that’s not all. We have to plan for overall requirements of the citizen to make life comfortable regarding not just physical needs but mental needs also & for that Culture is the key.

Medical/Public health & Education are two such fronts again, usually neglected by the elite class, as they never face the problem. By paying good sum, one can have best of education & medical facility in this city, but what about the majority who can’t afford! How many of us, even class 4th people (I mean financially) also avoids Govt/PMC’s public health facility, that’s the image of our Medical infrastructure & how many of us send their kids to Municipal schools. How many new Public Medical facilities have been built in last 20 years & when the population of the city has been on rise constantly?

Developers also have major role in this as while planning the new
developments we can have a keen eye on these fronts & instead blaming it on Govt we can provide the facilities/amenities that will serve the social purpose. Making more places to socialize the residents of the colony within the colony, arranging cultural programs within the complexes are the few things, which can be done at colony level itself.

We are entering in to a new decade. I think both the infrastructures must be planed keeping in mind the growth of the city. Then only we can keep our backbone intact & keep our pride of being the safest as well cultural capitol city
. There should be enough places for the big trees to grow as that green sky line is also equally important for the city.

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo_power Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !

Social Side of Sanjeevani !

Think Green, Think Life

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

 Uniquely Singapore !

I have affection for a great city.  I feel safe in the neighborhood of man, and enjoy the sweet security of the streets. ..Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Surely Mr. Henry must be referring to Singapore! A year back I had been invited to read my paper at Green Asia meet in
Singapore. It wasn't my first visit to the city but surely with the
environment back ground it looked more beautiful to me & a comparison
with our city is unavoidable.  Many of us know Singapore as a good holiday destination as well shopper’s paradise, fun & happening city & things like that. But how many know that the city is one of the pioneers in finest urban planning with balancing environment? Like any other country they too have problems arising urbanizing as well growing population. On the top of it they are an island & space is always a problem!
The conference was about urbanization in
the East Asian countries & the impact of environment it's causing on
the city life as well overall. During the sessions I get an opportunity to meet many people from the field & also to roam in & around Singapore, one of the most beautiful as well environment savvy metro of East Asia. With a population over 42million even they are also facing problems of traffic & energy. Also being an island in Hindi Ocean they don't have a permanent source of potable water & water is a scarce thing. Being an equatorial country though rains are all over the year yet increasing urbanization is a
looming threat on the greens. The topic of Singapore development is so vast that one can do PhD on the same! But we will focus a few where we in Pune city face similar problems & just keep crying & playing our favorite blame game over them!

A small example is the way they are dealing with the issues is the way
they dealt with debris of construction activity as well the excavated
stuff (multi storied basements parking is a common thing for the most
sky scrappers) & the dumping yards is a problem. What they did is,
they have made to dump the excavated stuff in the open spaces adjoin
to the buildings within the plot premise( like open spaces in our
layout, not to forget that club house & all other things are allowed at
podium or at terrace level) & retain it with proper walls & convert it
in to small hill garden. Hundreds of such hills island covered with
thick big trees is seen in between the tall buildings, is the effect.
Both purposes achieved, the excavated stuff taken care as well green
cover is maintained. And look at the debris dumping on whatever place we get here in Pune & the unofficial garbage yards they become later!

The funny part about environment is not just a technical thing; its
aesthetic looks as well the part of the culture of the city too. one of the  striking feature was no hoarding in haphazard way all along the streets which is a common scene for us & no mesh of cable TVs, Cell phone towers, Broad band cabling all over the sky line of the city. It feels so good to have a
look of the city without any such obstructing objects, there are huge
advertising hoardings but at fixed positions only. The way boards are all in similar fashion & not covered by any banner displaying some guy's birthday! The city was celebrating their independence festival but without cut outs of numbers of political/social images on them in all shapes & moods!

 The major problem most of the Metros are facing is from this
class of society which has money in their pockets & gives importance to
the wealthy life style where they think "if they can spend then why
not" type attitude. It reflects not just in spending valuable goods
but consumption of natural resources like water & energy. Most of the
electrical energy comes from burning of fossil fuels so a slightest
saving in power consumption is directly related to the conservation of
natural resources.

Water is a big issue as if you go below some 50' then the water becomes salty. Most of the water the country literally imports from their neighbor Malaysia! Though being equatorial country, rains is a daily routine & they have one of the best rain water conservation systems which are maintained at high priority. Every drop of rain water is collected with a net work of
open channels which are spread all along the roads, public areas. This
water is collected to pumping stations at regular interval & guided to
natural passages like river & streams.

The whole city is user friendly in terms of information of the
services the city offers right from metro to bus service to land marks
of the city. At every major square on main streets there is a booth of
Singapore Tourism with a person there for giving information about the
city as well distributing free city maps with locations of interests
mentioned. This is something which really makes a visitor to become
fond of the city. The local citizens also get benefited with the
facility as Singapore being a big Metro many don't know about all the
places in the city.

Seeing this I just keep on thinking what is going wrong with us and
where they are scoring above us! I think it's the accepting facts,
knowing what kind of result we want to achieve & adopting the remedies
at fast rate at which urbanization is growing, has made Singapore

Let's act & not just think friends, time is running out…..

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo_power Committee, Credai, Pune

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !

Social Side of Sanjeevani !

Think Green, Think Life