Thursday, March 30, 2017

Illegal Constructions & Vikram-Vetal Stories!

The trouble when you're doing something illegal is that you know what you're doing. You're lying to your parents; you're lying to your kids. The only person you can't lie to is yourself”… Tommy Chong.
Thomas B. Kin Chong is a Canadian-American comedian, actor, writer, director, activist, and musician; they should have added thinker also as his above quotes says it! Well, when the topic is illegal the real estate is the first thing which comes to the minds of most, especially common man & media! And if you are regular follower of news paper then every next week you will be entertained with this subject i.e. illegal construction! This reminds me relation of famous Raja Vikramaditya & Vetal in stories which entertained us in childhood. There was a condition put by Vetal that whenever Vikram will speak after the story then the Vetal will flee away from his shoulders but if Vikram doesn’t speak then there was a curse that his head will get broke in hundred pieces, so at the end of the story told by Vetal, Vikram has to speak to reply Vetal’s question & with that famous laugh Vetal used to flee & again we used to get ready for next story of Vikram & Vetal! Same is here with real estate, illegal construction & our Mai Baap Govt as every day we see same story repeating with all characters in position! Now don’t ask who is Vikram & who is Vetal here as that doesn’t matter, the role keeps on changing but the story of illegal construction continues from one page to another is the fact! 

On this background last time’s victim of the story was Hon. Shrikar Pardeshi who was then PCMC’s Commissioner & with different govt in power. But as I said actors keep on changing in our illegal story but characters are same. As the present govt also is hell bent to give life to all so called illegal construction & it need scapegoat to sacrifice, so this time it’s Mr. Tukaram Mundhe, New Mumbai Commissioner who is supposedly under the guillotine. Unfortunate part is only the people who are honest with their duty are the one who wants illegal constructions to be demolished as every other entity which is associated with illegal constructions wants it to protect them as then all are in win-win situation! First let’s see why everybody is happy with illegal construction as by now even a school going kid in the State knows what is illegal construction but our dear govt isn’t clear what is legal & what is illegal when its real estate! There also govt has come up with a sugar coated terminology i.e. illegal constructions that can be regularized & then some which can’t be regularized! Wow, I am amazed, as who is the authority to decide which constructions can be regularized & which can’t; this again the Mai Baap govt only to decide! But in this country there live some nasty people who can’t digest happiness of the people living in these so called illegal buildings nor revenue the govt is getting, profit the illegal construction companies, happy voters the politicians getting & it’s such people who file complaints in the courts which also shows no sympathy for any of above entities & asks govt to demolish these buildings ruthlessly! Now which govt (means some political party) can afford to make their voters homeless & make their financers sustain so huge losses by demolishing these thousand of buildings which are on prime lands in Metros like Pimpri Chinchwad, New Mumbai, Thane & many such!

Now please don’t ask the foolish question who allowed to build these illegal construction, what was govt agencies which are supposed to check them were doing while these buildings were being built over a period of time. Even don’t ask why the residents of these buildings booked their flats in such buildings which has no proper sanctions as reason is obvious these poor people desperately needed a home which wasn’t possible with the high rates in so called legal buildings so the settled for something which is way cheaper than sanctioned buildings & they have been assured by their builders as well local leaders whom they have voted that it will be regularized in due course so they were convinced that they are not doing anything wrong. And yes even don’t ask how these flat buyers in so called illegal buildings got home finance in such buildings as in this country everything is possible, isn’t it? As the way these illegal buildings got electric supply, water supply, drainage connections or telephone lines, same way they got home finance too! In some cases even the civic body has started collection property taxes also from the residents of such buildings, so what even if there is violation of FSI norms in the construction or the said building has been build on some reservation land! Up to until the needy poor people of society are getting homes, leaders are having happy voters & govt along with builders are getting revenue all is well. All this goy disturbed by some fools Public Interest Litigation filed against illegal constructions  & sad part the Hon Court has not only upheld this petition but every day passing some awkward order against the govt to demolish all such buildings.

You will wonder how a builder is saying all this but like the govt itself has defined two categories of illegality there are two types are builders too. One are fools like me who waits till they get every sanction, pays all dues to such extent that even if the PMC/PCMC has made any mistake on their own while calculating any premium then we pay interest on that amount also as the said body realizes their mistake while giving occupations certificate & charges me interest on this difference amount & I too pay it smilingly as I am a law abiding builder. And then there is another category of builders which are smart & who doesn’t waits to obtain any sanction neither requires any zoning or road widening or structural stability certificate but directly starts building their building & finishes in fastest way & makes their clients happy by giving possession! May be it’s these builders & their buildings which later are tagged as illegal by some nasty citizens & which is upheld by the courts, what a shame! I really wonder why we need a court to give order to demolish illegal construction as the very same system which makes every effort to save this illegality but when it’s some white collared common man’s single storied bungalow, the system is eager to serve him fine or stop work even if by mistake his sand for the construction flows on adjoining footpath!

And on this background & that is illegal construction by the sanctioning body itself! Many might have been following a news series about a PIL filed by Baner (a happening & smart western suburb of PMC i.e. Pune) citizen. It’s says PMC is not in capacity to provide even basic infrastructure like water or drainage to many of new buildings which has come up in recent past in Baner & same is situation in many newly merged suburbs of Pune as well PCMC. Now the court is saying why they should not ban PMC to sanction new proposals in these areas if it is unable to provide infrastructure to the residents? On this, I have a doubt; if a developer doesn’t give any basic living infrastructure to any building then it is illegal. So what we should call such buildings where govt agencies themselves given sanctions, collected premiums from developers as well property tax from the residents but points finger to developers itself for providing these amenities? Isn’t this is more than just illegality rather if any developer commits something to the customers & doesn’t give it the under RERA he will be imprisoned, so what we should do to such sanctioning authorities?

Not only such behavior makes common man to go to court for justice but all such publicity gives very negating image in the minds of common home buyer as he is confused whether his money will be safe if he buys a home in any new project as the legality itself is in doubt! Here I am sharing one classic example of my own where my customer has mailed us about future of our project around Baner area, it will clearly indicate the impact of miscommunication or mismanagement amongst our so called smart city’s managers!...


What should be our reply on today's news.
Client has booked in sangam II & will be proceeding for agreement in this week.


-----Original Message-----
From: Sachin Wad [mailto:]
Sent: Monday, March 27, 2017 11:27 AM
To: Sales
Subject: Today's news in Sakal

Hello Pallavi Madam,
I am a bit worried after reading this news in Sakal paper today. The court has questioned municipality for sanctioning schemes in Baner and Sus where basic infrastructure facilities (water line, roads, drainage line etc) are not yet setup or provided by Municipality. The news is on 1st and 10th page.

Will you please kindly help me understand its probable impact on the scheme and our investment?

Many Thanks
Sachin Wad

dear sachin,
Regarding your mail about news in media regarding a case between PMC & Amol Balwadkar (who has filed PIL) for water supply as well basic civic amenities & stand of high court, here is something.... 

I can understand your anxiety about such news  but the case is between residents of completed projects in PMC limit & PMC as PMC charges heavy premiums to the developers along with development charges which are collected under the name of infrastructure & on top of it property tax which the residents has to pay & it comes nearly 1500/- per month for a 2 bhk flat & against all these charges PMC is supposed to provide basic facilities like water, drainage & roads to the residents which comes under PMC jurisdiction. And at present PMC isn’t providing any such facility in many areas especially some parts of baner balewadi area so the residents has gone to court.

At Sangam, we doesn’t come under PMC  & we don’t have to pay any premium neither any such heavy property tax is applicable & that’s why above news is not applicable to Sangam or any location out of PMC area!  We are governed by PMRDA i.e. pune metropolitan regional development authority & our plans are also sanctioned by them only. Above case is filed against PMC & it’s only for the projects which PMC sanctions rather I am already writing an article about this, will share the same with you after its complete. So you be relaxed for legality of Sangam as not only our proposal has been sanctioned but we have received occupation certificate. Even in the news Hon High Court has commented on new projects in PMC limit & not about any existing projects so you are safe as well those who even are booking their home in completed projects in PMC area too!

Hope that clears your quarry! Plz feel free for any clarification via call or email.


Thank you Sir,
I appreciate a detailed clarification and it does answer my query. The news did not categorically talk about who exactly is impacted and in which manner. Usually Hon High Court decisions are considered as exemplary which may extend to other cases as well and hence was little worried earlier. But now it is clear and I am good.

Many Thanks!

Sachin Wad’’

I think entire above conversation speaks the way common man reacts to such news in media & its damaging to already in trouble real estate industry. This also emphasize importance of being aware of current affairs related to real estate & be available to such clients & speak clear to him as that’s why I was able to retain the clients booking as well his trust or confidence which is more important for us!

And then one more illegality in real estate is there, in the form of changing policies! In my another case where we have got all sanctions as well infamous NA order also which is like "Sim Sim" word for real estate & entered in nearly two hundred plus agreements. We have simultaneously applied for Environment Clearance where the lower committee has approved our proposal but till our proposal went for the authority i.e. upper committee, the said committees duration was over & it took nine months to new committee formation & our work was held up due to just one reason as no committee in existence to give us the said EC. And there were nearly hundred plus such proposals, so what we call this but illegality by the Mai Baap govt itself & what we are going to do about it? Now in this project who will bear the interest for nine months delay but the flat holders & what’s their fault if they book their home with a Smart Builder who doesn’t wait for EC & starts the work as committed & give possession that too at much cheaper rate than booking with a legal fool like us!

It’s not that entire system including Hon CM hold charge of urban development are supporting for illegal constructions but somewhere something is wrong since long is a fact. The local bodies like municipal corporations are keener on sanctioning processes than curbing the illegal construction & reasons may be insufficient staff to not having police backup for doing so. As most of the time these constructions are in with nexus of local so called leaders & the concerned junior officers are afraid to rub them on wrong side. Here a separate police task force with full authority as well enough in numbers must be provided to all the local civic bodies; with home dept which controls police force also with Hon CM that should not be a problem. Then with due respect the lower courts grants stay to stop work notices as well action  to most of these illegal construction for very minor flaws in the system is also another hurdle in curbing these construction in time. And till the matter goes to higher courts it’s too late & impractical to demolish such buildings is equal fact.

On one side we talk about ease of doing business & on other side we regularize illegal constructions which in actual is outcome of difficulty of doing the business of real estate! Till we doesn’t come up with development plans in time & make as well implement policies which are clear even for common man to understand & enforce them with ruthless attitude, illegal constructions won’t stop. And many will wonder the use of term ruthless but the sanctioning or governing system is ruthless only when it knows the opposite person is helpless & respect for the law. The very same system becomes very soft for the person (read as builder) who knows which button to press & away by breaking every existing law! When I say ruthless then it should be applying the stick to everyone who is making illegal construction despite his or her position or connections with people in power! Unless & until we won’t work on that front some honest officers will keep on getting transferred untimely, High Courts will keep screaming against builders, Mai Baap Govt will keep on protecting illegal constructions under name of its shelter for the poor & the poor common man’s dream of his own legal home will ever remain as dream!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Tadoba Stories: Forest Has Place For Everybody!

“All forests have their own personality. I don't just mean the obvious differences, like how an English woodland is different from a Central American rain forest, or comparing tracts of West Coast redwoods to the saguaro forests of the American Southwest... they each have their own gossip, their own sound, their own rustling whispers and smells. A voice speaks up when you enter their acres that can't be mistaken for one you'd hear anyplace else, a voice true to those particular tress, individual rather than of their species.” …Charles de Lint

Charles de Lint is a Canadian writer of Dutch Origins, live in Canada. Primarily a writer of fantasy fiction, he has written widely in the subgenres of urban fantasy. Besides being an author, he is also a musician, together with his wife MaryAnn. He plays multiple instruments and sings and writes his own songs. And how correct Charles is in defining forests as not just every forest but every part of even one single forest is also different like human beings! I have been to same forest repeatedly & yet I have found the personality of the forest ever changing, like we find same person different on different occasions! Every tree looks new on every new day & the wind blows new tune each time I enter in those greens. 

Come March & the incoming summer makes my fingers started feeling urge to hold camera, the forest gear at home looks at me & says silently “boss its forest time, enough of rest time, now we need that red dust to cover us”, & I lift the phone to make my forest bookings. And nothing better start than to visit my favorite Tadoba, which one of my friend call now it’s "Ladoba" (pet or favorite) for me! Though it was mid March the summers can be very tricky in Central Indian forests as if at noon the temperature can go to 40 degrees the mornings can be as chilling as 10 degrees so it’s better to brace yourself for both extremes as the first hour of morning can be very cold! At the same time you should have proper information of weather conditions & tiger sightings which can be easily available by calling the locals at the forest you are visiting. This time my ace wild life photographer friend Sanjay Shrishrimal was with me & Nitin my partner & Sanjay has updated us about tigress & cubs’ moment which are in kolsa range. Agreed we have seen enough tigers but in central part of India, this time of year is mainly best for tigers because bird sightings are rare due to harsh summer & water holes stars drying up. Also the grass becomes yellow, camouflaging the tiger best making hunting easier & as the prey base also comes in open in search of water.

Another thing is I decided to travel to Tadoba by road as I wanted to go via my home town Khamgaon near Shegaon & I love road trips as they make you get real feel of the terrain you are traveling through. So sipping chull made chays (wood fire tea) & having lunches at dhabas on way, testing local meals I reached Tadoba after fifteen hours travel & it’s the effect of liking for forests as well high oxygen level in air one never feel tiered in forests is my experience. In the forests even five hours sleep at night also is enough as our lungs are not used to such pollution free air.

Just three days back there was heavy rains at Tadoba & surrounding & it does have its impact on moments as well sightings of animals. Though there are many disputes over this aspect, that does untimely rain or cloudy weather really affects tiger sighting; as few experts says it doesn’t while the locals i.e. guides does mention this thing that because of rains tiger sightings gets disturbed. Though tigers do enjoy rains & there have been many instances of capturing in camera tiger especially cubs playing happily in rains. After first day of safari we get to know that in kolsa range there are four tigresses which are having cubs & in such situation sighting are surer. As those who complain they have haven’t seen a tiger for them I will share something from my exposure to tigers. To sight a tiger in vast jungle is never easy as each male tiger has territory of nearly fifty sq km, means imagine to locate a single person in Pune right from Deccan to Kothrud that too you are in gypsy & on road where as tiger need not have to follow roads. A male tiger can walk even 20 km in a day & unless there isn’t any water hole left deep inside his territory he won’t easily come & sit in an open water hole. The only surety for male tigers sighting is in summer when he prefers some particular water hole or if there is a kill around. As after eating the raw meat it generates heat in the body & tiger needs to cool down by sitting in water preferably near by the kill! Except these two situations the chances of sighting a male tiger are very rare in compare to the tigress, as there can be three to four tigresses in territory of male tiger. And especially when the tigress is with cubs then she need to restrict her moments keeping the cubs always under reachable distance. And this is why when the cubs are around the sighting of tigress is more sure though again very small cubs she usually keeps inside thickset of bamboos or shrubs. Yet the cubs need to be taken for a walk or to the kill & to the water holes & they also need to play with their mother, making them exposed to outer world i.e. us! What weather can make difference is sudden rain might disturb dears & they get scattered & in locating tigers other animals does play very important role by their alarm calls. You can find tiger only by two things; one is its pug marks & second is by alarm calls of animals & birds. And then as I mentioned if you can locate the cubs then sure the tigress is around & here is where one should inquire about sightings or moments of the cubs if any before visiting forests or selecting routes while safari. Agreed after doing all this then there is luck factor but then that’s factor is everywhere any way as I know people who has seen eight to ten tigers in their  first & only one safari while there are many who hasn’t had glimpse of tiger even after five to six safaris!

Best part of visiting forests is not just meeting the personality of forests but you get to meet many tourists also & many of them have become friends with me over the period as common factor is wilderness. And best place for making new friends in forest is over the cup of tea at the dhabas outside of entry gate after the safari! Here you can just watch the faces or chats among the groups & you get to know entire forest sightings. The faces which are glowing with joy & eager to tell their encounter with tiger & then the faces which are down & trying to hide their frustration of not being able to see the tiger, all I enjoy equally. Usually I start conversations with those who haven’t seen the tiger, in one such incidence I met Abhishek Chaudhari & his wife over the cup of tea after one safari. They both are work in research with a political party in Delhi & has come to the forest for the first time as a holiday break after hectic work schedule. Unfortunately they weren’t able to see tiger even in three safaris & I explained them all above my tiger theory & assured them they will get to see the tiger as well first enjoy the wilderness of which tiger is one part! They were satisfied & we promised to be in touch which they did. After coming back I got whats-ap from Abhishek saying next day also they didn’t get to see the tiger & they were a bit disappointed & felt it was their bad luck! So I again messaged them there always is first time for every sighting & they too will be lucky as forest never disappoints anybody is what my experience is! I think this aspect needs to be looked after by the forest as well tourism dept i.e. counseling of the tourists which hasn’t been able to see the tiger as they went back with negative mind sets & lost the liking for wild life, just because they are not aware about the facts regarding tiger sighting! We need to start this activity & sure many NGO’s can join hands to meet & speak with such tourists making them not only feel better but make them wild life lover even they haven’t seen the tiger but they will come back some day! We need to tell them wild life is not just tigers & there are many things they have seen which in their city life they wouldn’t ever have experienced!

Then I met Nirmalya Chakrborti who is software engg from Kolkata & now working with an MNC in Pune & is a regular visitor of Tadoba. He has clicked six tigers in a frame in kolsa range & hats off to this guy as he was staying at Moharli gate & every day morning he wakes up at 3.30 am & went all way round to kolsa which entry is by zari gate & again come back in noon & goes back for evening safari, travelling nearly 200 km in a day! That’s most tiring & only a die-hard wild lifer can do such heroics without getting fatigued!

Interestingly we were staying at Moahrli & we too wanted to go to kolsa as to capture tigresses with cubs but we were lucky to get a place to stay at kolsa zari gate & here I got introduced to another character Kalpak Sawlikar & his wife who has started a cozy rest house at zari gate. Let me tell you how difficult that is to run something like a rest house at zari gate which is right on the border of forest & at such places you get nothing in the name of infrastructure. You don’t even get milk there such is the scene leave apart any essential things like mosquito coils & stuff like that. Everything you have to get from Chandrapur which is some 30 km away & man power that too trained for running a rest house is rarest thing! On such background this young couple has taken challenge of running a guest house & with no background of hospitality industry it’s just Kalpaak’s passion for wild life has made him to dare this venture. It was so heartening to experience the stay at their rest house & its youngsters like Kalpak who are real hope for wild life conservation! Speaking about infrastructure, barring Moharli & Kolara gates there is nothing to assist the tourists on other gates which our beloved MTDC i.e. State Tourism dept must take cognizance of. Especially when on one side we call Tadoba as Jewel of State Forests & at entry gates the tourists can’t gate even mineral water bottle is the scene! I think this front forest dept & MTDC should work on as this can be an opportunity to create some means of earnings for locals also & agreed the tourists foot-fall is less so survival of business is difficult but the tourist’s assistance activities are equally necessary which can’t be worked on just scale of profit making, that’s the job of govt!

Then next two days we were tracking hirdi nallah tigress (these names are arrived from name of the location around which said tiger is seen often) which was having three cubs of age approximately five to six months. At such times the cubs are most playful & as they are small, the tigress usually doesn’t move much. So we finally get to see the family in thick bamboo plantation where we could see them with naked eyes as that’s probably best camera invented but difficult to click them in our normal cameras. At such times I always feel the camera is a burden as instead enjoying the playing cubs we use to crib about not getting good snaps & I wasn’t the exception to this feel! Yet with years of forest travels have taught me that forest always fulfills my wish someday & may be today isn’t that day! With that thought I left the tigress & the cubs & the Tadoba with a promise to come back soon to meet those trees newly! After meeting so many new friends as well the trees, the tigers, the birds & many more species which actually are personalities as Mr. Charles has described, I have learnt one more thing this time about forests & that is, the forest has a space for everybody who comes to it! All you have to do is identify your place in the forest & then you will be never disappointed with any forest, I think that’s the best gain we can have by visiting forests!

To conclude when I reached after travelling some fifteen odd hours to Pune, there was huge traffic jam at Nagar road near Mundhava crossing & I got stuck in for one hour in the traffic jam at 11pm, just because the signals were off & no police-man was there to control the traffic making the mess of it! It’s the indication for me of returning back to my concrete jungle which we call Smart City! I wonder why can’t we even keep the traffic signals on for twenty four hours at-least on major roads; well, may be our personality is never meant for Smartness is the answer!


Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

Please do visit my blogs to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani !
 (Click the links below)

Social Side of Sanjeevani ! (Click link below)

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

Think Green, Think Life

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Green Cities Are Here, Where Are Green Citizens?

“The trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit”… Moliere

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature. And indeed while making people laugh he can make them thinks too via is above quote! Three things happened to make me use his quote for our sharing, as many might not know to bother 3rdMarch is Wild Life Day, we celebrate in India. It’s to make common man aware about the importance of wild life around us. Then my friend Sunil Limaye who himself is die hard forest officer called me for forest departments efforts to make common sparrow along with some other birds restoration in the cities & third is on this background I came across two news contradictory to each other in news paper regarding city greening! Now, one will ask except the Sunil’s thing what’s relevance between my work i.e. real estate, wild life & green cities; & I won’t blame most people asking this question as in our daily EMI or turnover of business we rarely have time to think for sparrows or wild life or greenery around us. Yet each of us has a responsibility towards greenery as well wild life & yes regarding sparrows too. This is what common factor between all three things i.e. we by our self is that common factor.

On occasion of wild life Day, my wild lifer friend Anuj Khare along with forest dept of Pune & PMC has organized an event in which wild life films by well known photographers like Nulla Mutthu & Bedi brothers were shown.

Speaking at inauguration of this wild life film event I said in recent times as one part of society has gained financial stability, there is fashion amongst people to call themselves wild lifer. And all this segment does is, buy costly cameras & its fancy accessories, go to the tiger parks, get nice snaps, upload on FB & Whats-ap groups, count its likes & be happy with their wild lifer tag! Agreed its better than nothing but does wild life is just visiting tiger parks & clicking snaps, is the question we should ask ourselves. As we all have our duty towards saving wild life & the question we should ask our self is what I am doing for it? We come to wild life film festivals, watch these wonderful shoot wild life for which people have donated their life, clap the work of cameraman & thanks ngo’s like Anuj as well forest dept & we go home! Is that enough, is what I will ask you to ask yourself. One of the films shown is about wild life in Western Ghats & how many citizens of Pune even know they are part of Western Ghats & party to destruction for the same? Many will get shocked genuinely & ask how they are party to destruction of Western Ghats? Well many of us lives in so called buildings (I am not forgetting I too am a builder) which have been made by displacing trees & agreed we need homes but if we are cutting a tree which was part of biodiversity of Western Ghats then what I have done to repair this damage, is the question I want you to ask each of you!

Then second thing was about forest departments’ drive for restoration of sparrows along with other birds like bulbul, maina which were common sight few years back all around the cities like Pune & which are not seen anymore. All we get to see in city like Pune is crow, gray pigeon & kite, that’s it. Forest dept fortunately has realized their job is not just restricted to the declared forests but in cities their need is more. If we have conquered forest lands for our living needs then the only way to restore the forests is creating it within the humans i.e. in cities! As then only the birds like sparrows which we have driven out from the cities will come back to us & this is not going to happen on its own. We need to understand what sparrows need to survive in the cities & provide it to them & do it fast. Main thing is whenever we want to restore any specie may it be a tiger or sparrow, it’s not possible without creating their habitat i.e. a complete life cycle of which they are one link. Means when we want sparrows back in city we will have to provide them their space in form of trees, bushes, grass & dust where they can build their nests & get their wings dry in dust. Then we need to make their food cycle which is not just grain bowls but insects along with fresh water supply all round the year. And lastly we need to keep the sparrows safe from air as well noise pollution & give them their privacy where they can breed & grow in numbers! Then only the sparrows & bulbul & mainas will be back amongst us & make our life wonderful by their chirping! And we have to do it fast as we are rampantly building our glass & concrete homes & offices, by replacing soil, trees, grass & natural water sources which are home for sparrows!

Third thing is news about State Govt’s drive for making cities green, especially in 43 cities which comes under Amrit category in the scheme by Central govt. For those who are unaware of what’s Amrit scheme, it’s like Smart City project for Metros but aimed at cities of which population ranges from one lac to three lac. These are the cities which are potential hubs for future migration & right from now if we gear up to accommodate the migrants then we can avoid the mistakes of damaging nature which we have seen in present Metro cities like Mumbai & Pune! So under this scheme all these cities will have Green Parks within the cities which will act as oxygen cylinders for the city. Idea is great but right from finding such place, acquiring the same & then making the trees survive without any encroachments are the challenges! As what has happened with such green belts & Bio Diversity Parks in city like Pune with every infrastructure available with administration we all have witnessed. One classic example is Naik Bet (Island) right in heart of city which was supposed to be developed as bird’s park. But present scene is neither PMC nor forest dept accepts responsibility of maintaining it & the place has become dumping yard of garbage as well full of encroachments & all illegal trades! If such is scene in so called aware Pune city how we are going to make it in smaller cities is the main question we should ask. One sure way is giving responsibility to local body with full authority to penalize or reward as per the need arrives. As no landlord will give his land for plantation or for Green Park unless he gets full compensation & even after that there is no guaranty he will be ready so treat Green Parks as essential service to the city & give forceful acquisition authority to the local governing body & see that they do it or stop their entire funding! And then a periodical check should be there for progress on plantation front. Make entire city’s residents aware as well accountable for plantation. Here I will share a simple way which we have used at our sites. In Pune for every 80 sq mt of plat area planting one tree is compulsory for garden dept’s NOC while obtaining occupation certificate of any project. Though most builders follows the plantation norms hardly few cares what happens about its survival as once possession is given then the builder has no hold on the tree upbringing. Then there is deposit of some Rs 25,000/- which the builder has to deposit with garden department & which is paid back only after confirmation of the tree has survived & grown well. Again this amount is peanuts in compare to project cost so nobody bothers to take it back & result is very few such newly planted trees survives. Joke is till today Pune’s garden dept has no exact record of how many new tree has planted in last five years in the new projects & how many of them has been survived. This is happening in city like Pune where Municipal Corporation is in existence for more than fifty years & people are aware about tress; imagine what must be seen in town level cities! What we have done in our projects is we plant all these trees at the hands of our flat holders only & put a board  near the tree with name of concerned flat holder on it. We give oath to the flat holders that they have adopted this particular tree & they will make it sure it survives & will take care of the tree like their family member! One major advantage of putting a board with name of lat holder is we are very fussy about our name. If the tree with my name board dies & my neighbor’s tree survive, everybody will notice it & for fear factor of my social image I will take care of the tree, is what we thought. And the idea has worked well to such extent that tree survival ratio in our completed projects is nearly 90%! I think when we say we need to make cities green, first it’s the citizens which we have to make think green; as cities are made & maintained green by the green citizens & not by just planning some so called green policies & bylaws! And for this we can make green committees like we have mohalla committees at ward level in municipal corporations or nagar parishad level. Also we can think of Green Citizen award at ward level, for maximum plantation as well individual citizen’s efforts for making his or her surrounding green.

And then on all this green background I came across news about change in infamous Tree Act; I used the term infamous, as neither builders nor the NGO’s used to like it. The main issue is tree cutting in the city & its procedure under the act. I always say don’t make the acts which will make people to defeat the very purpose of it; classic example is Tree Act, its age old & not suitable to cover today’s problems. Even if in a bungalow if a tree has gone old  & in state of falling then also the bungalow owner whose grandfather only has panted it has to go through such a tiresome procedure to get permission that he become enemy of the tree. Same is situation with societies & result is people don’t plant big trees in first place thinking later it will be nuisance to get rid of it. As usual every law is for those who follow or respect it as even Tree Act in force tree cutting hasn’t been stopped in the city is a fact. There are hundreds of trees which gets cut every day due to loop holes in the act or reluctance of the authorities to implement the tree act. Also under this law it was mandatory to have a tree authority in position which will approve every single tree cutting & all those who have ever approached for getting tree cutting permission for even a single tree knows how this tree authority was used to function! Now that tree authority itself has been removed by the new law & the concern tree officer will be giving permission for any new tree cutting request after analyzing the genuineity of the proposal. If number of trees required to be cut is more than twenty five the Hon Municipal Commissioner has authority for the same as per amendment in the act, this is what NGO’s are thinking making the act soft over the builders! What I feel, it’s not how hard or soft any law is but what’s attitude of common man as well the authorities towards the law is what decides the effectiveness of that law; and Tree Act is also not exception to this logic. Earlier also when it was supposedly stringent then what wonder it has make is what we should ask & how we are going to survive the trees is what we should focus.

This is how Wild Life, Sparrow Conservation Program & Green Park news are interlinked with real estate as well city because we need our city to be green for better future of our next generations & so does need the sparrows & even the tigers their habitat for their secured future. This all ultimately is a circle of life where Forest, Urban Development, Local Governing Bodies & most importantly citizens, if all these ends meet together then only there is some hope for trees, sparrows & tigers. After all when we call real estate its human habitat & what better environment can be there for humans than birds chirping, clean air & greenery around! So let’s decide not to encroach on forests & give the animals there space as that’s the only way where tigers will be safe & happy in their habitat & we the human will be at peace in ours, a perfect balance of life! And time is short, because it hardly takes few minutes to cut a tree of hundred year old or it takes just few years to drive away birds like sparrows from any particular habitat. But as Moliere has said it takes ages to bear the best fruits of a tree & if we don’t plant that tree right now then the only fruit we deserve is our dark & bitter future!

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.

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