Thursday, February 11, 2021

Forests, Environment & Union Budget!

 








-

“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

Whenever the subject is forest just the way he has relieved thousands of people from living under the threat of a Man-Eater, the same way Jim relieves me from how to start my sharing & this one is also not an exception! Unfortunate fact is nearly hundred years back a white man (Englishman) nearly gave his life for conservation of forests in this very country of ours & wrote such wonderful words of wisdom about the forests & now when we call ourselves free country & largest democracy of the world, we don't care much (read as don’t care at all) about these forests which are our best ever treasure, actually! And if you think I am sounding like some extremist environmentalist or green movement worker, well, you have liberty to think whatever you want to but take one look at the budget of this trillion crore rupees or whatever figure it may in the economics & the provision our Mai Baap govt has made for the forests & you may believe on my words! Ok, here is something not just in newspapers but the information is from the web site of our finance ministry of the Union Budget Provisions for 2021, for the few heads including forest & environment dept too...

Agriculture, Rural Development, Irrigation and allied activities   ... Rs 2.83 lakh crore

Wellness, Water and Sanitation theme.... Rs 69,000 crore 

Education and Skill ... Rs 99,300 crore

Development and promotion of Industry and Commerce...  Rs 27300 crore 

Infrastructure sector ... Rs 100 lakh crore

Women and Child, Social Welfare...  Rs 35,600 crore

Environment and Climate Change.... Rs 4,400 crore

I am not some finance expert but a civil engineer & a wild lifer, so I am not that friendly or say at ease with the figures or budget heads & provision type details neither I know how many rupees makes total budget of our country! But one thing sure I know & understand & that is analogy, by which even a dumb (read as an engineer) can also make out the money provision made for environment (which includes forests) is way lesser in compare to many other heads from the above chart.  Here as usual many will wink their nose & say, what you want, moon & sun for the forests, are the other heads not more important than some wild animals which any way lives in forests & doesn’t need roads or medicines or education or food & many such things, so what more the govt should make provision of than four thousand plus crore rupees for the forests! I agree, as ours is a developing country & 130 crore population need many things to survive but the we have a democratic govt by the people, of the people & for the people but to whom the tigers, elephants, deer, leopards, falcons, mongoose, lizards & thousands of such species to look at for making budget provision for their needs, is I want to ask to all those who winks their nose at the demand for more budget provision for environment & forests! 

Yes Rs 4400 crore is definitely a big amount for a developing country like ours but then look at the volume of the forest area & millions of species making those lands as their home & the very same amount is going to be used for the environmental activities also which are directly related for the conservation of forest or say wild life or biodiversity, whatever we call it! For e.g. from this amount we have to stop pollution of rivers, lakes, ocean as well the mountains & hills. From the very same amount we have to make the millions of people living around every wildlife habitat which includes not just tiger sanctuaries but grasslands, wetlands, unprotected forests, mangroves & many such as its these people (read as humans) which are direct threat to the forests (and environment) if we don't give proper infrastructure to survive on their own!  As well from this amount we have to make provisions for the forest staff which is already very less in numbers & by infrastructure as most forest guards don't have proper accommodation as well facilities for their families while they serve deep within forests, away from the urban world to protect some tiger or a leopard & its home & from whom but none other than the fellow humans! Leave apart accommodation most forest staff does not have their own life protecting things like guns while the humans from whom these guards are supposed to protect wildlife have self loading rifles & no proper vehicles to cover the large areas & has to patrol on feet (which also is important)! This entire infrastructure including new posts & labour force is supposedly done from the budget provision & that’s why the amount is not enough. And then we have to make research, studies, and maps, collect data, awareness (which is the key actually) & many such activities, which will help us in conservation of the forests & environment & that's possible only from the annual budget provision only. 

Oh yes, some more figures I will share, the area of our country which is the seventh largest country by size is  32,87,263 square kilometres & the the land under forests of all types is is 7,12,249 sq km which is 21.67% of the geographical area of the country. By the way the ideal forest cover for the country & the target set is for 33%, means we have to not just protect this 7,12,249 sq km area but we have to add nearly 3,00,000 sq km area in this existing forest land & that means we have to acquire this land or free the same from other uses as well take efforts to make it green & see that the wildlife gets settled in this new added land under forest! And now tell me, we are talking about one third of land area of the entire country & the budget for the same is not even one hundredth of our total annual budget & still we expect only the forest dept or some NGOs' to Save the Tiger; seriously optimistically selfish souls we are really, are we not! At the same time the policies as well our bureaucratic hierarchy makes the forest dept crippled whenever it has to encounter its fellow depts’ may it be revenue (blue eyed) & police or irrigation or public work (road making), defense & oh yes railways too (how can I forget maximum wildlife kills which happens due to railway tacks passing through forests)! As all these depts. works for our (humans) comfort & safety as well earns revenue also along but its only the forest dept which does not work for the humans so they are tagged as speed breaker (read as obstacle)  for all other depts. & best way to cut their wings (and legs, hands & brain too) is cut their budge, isn’t it! 

As there are IFS i.e. Indian Forest Services  as well State level forest service’s but we all know (with high regards to many forest officer’s die hard attitude towards their duty) they all are like toothless & clawless tigers when are outside of forests because of the system we call as govt! And the major threat(or say the only threat) to the forests is not from inside but from outside of the forests, this very fact if we doesn’t accept now & act on, then the 33% of forest cover area is like "Mungerilal ke Haseen Sapne" i.e. impossible task! And all of this is reflected in the union budget provision for the forests; this is why I felt like taking the budget aspect of wildlife, to make masses aware! As with all due respect to my forest dept friends, none of their suggestions are taken into account while making development plans or any infrastructure projects as they are looked as trouble makers & so are their pleas for protection of forests is a bitter fact! This is the case of govt forest officials so less we speak about the NGO's working in the wildlife field & their suggestions is better! I repeat, I am not saying don't do developments or don't provide comforts to the humans, as I too am a human only but guys, create a balance somewhere, is all I am saying & I am not alone saying this! And for that lets start from the budget provision for the wildlife, as that's the first step! The wild life field’s NGO's task is more tough because where the govt itself don't give much money (read as a damn) for the needs of the wildlife how can we expect the so called successful city people to contribute generously for the wild life as here people can buy cameras worth lakhs of rupees & spend equal for one forest trip but when giving financial support (read as donation) for any wildlife activity then they have all the reasons for not being able to contribute, lockdown is the new one! 

This year has already been bad for most of the industries as well businesses & entire society but it was more bad for the forest people as their entire livelihood is dependent on tourists visiting forests & the whole season has washed away due to lockdown. I have seen the impact on the locals residing around forests & their financial status which already was & is below par than many city folks. In such times the forest dept & wildlife NGOs' will need more support in every form especially the money front, this our Mai Bapp govt must understand! Well, if you are not still satisfied with my logic, here is something more "aankho dekha haal", I visited a small grassland forest near Pune for photography of chinkara & grassland birds & a forest labour/ guard who was on contract basis employed, was accompanying me  around to show the habitat. After listening my chatting with my friend along, the guy must have realized I knew a name or two of senior forest officers (and good one), so he dared & told me that he hasn't received salary for nearly six months as the funds has not been released by the govt is what RFO (Range officer) was saying to him, so can I put a word to top bosses & do needful as the RFO from his pocket has gave him some advances to keep his household running! I said I will do whatever best I can & the story doesn’t ends here, it was Diwali vacation & I have got a box of sweets for the RFO there who happens to be my friend too. As the RFO was at taluka place of the forest & likely was not going to meet me I asked this forest labour fellow (Van majur) to hand over the box to RFO saab, though I didn't tell him what was in it! When I left for Pune, after an hour I received call from the forest labour (well, in India a man can live without food but cell phone he can afford, Jio mere lal) & he asked, "Sirji wo jo baxa aapne diya RFO saab ke liye, usme kuch mithai hai kya?", are there sweets in the box which I have given for RFO?. I replied, yes it is, then he sheepishly asked, "sirji, aap naraj na ho to, plz mai rakh lu wo baxa mithai ka, bacho ki diwali ban jayegi mere", i.e. can I keep the sweets box, please, my kids will be very happy as they don’t have anything for diwali! Well, my grassland trip photography joy was washed away in the lump which formed in my throat with those words & all I could say is, "rakhlo wo mithai bhai, Happy Diwali!" Well, that guard's family I could make happy with one sweet box but who will make such thousands of families as well species happy, is the question I want to ask; that's all folks, think over! 

--

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U-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/2021/01/post-lock-down-real-estate-home-buying.html

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.com/


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


Friday, February 5, 2021

Roads, People, City & Attitude!

 













-

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”...

“Not TV or illegal drugs but the automobile has been the chief destroyer of American communities.”...

“There is no logic that can be superimposed on the city; people make it, and it is to them, not buildings, that we must fit our plans.”...
... 
Jane Jacobs.

All above three quotes I used as the subject vs. aptness of each above quote was such that I felt like Hanumanji searching for Sanjeevani Herb ( a life saving medieval herb) on Dronagiri mountain & as got confused which one to get so got entire mountain to Shri Ram! That’s greatness of Jane Jacobs & her thinking ability about urban planning! Not to test your anxiety, this city always amaze me with the controversies it love, the intensity with which each controversy is fought & the consistency of generating (or say invention) the controversies we create! Oh yes, I m referring to our Smart Pune city & the latest entrant in the controversies league is our narrow roads & their widths & their widening! Now, one will ask, how this can be subject of controversy as there are roads in every city, town & country & they keep on widening (though in our country, roads keep on narrowing also) also, so what so big deal in it! Well, first this is Pune, where everything is a big deal especially when it’s related to the city or people & second it’s not about road widening but it’s about our attitude regarding such civic issues, that’s what makes even the issue like road widening as big deal. And then while the Smart City campaign was in full swing (anybody remembers it?) that time majority of Punekar’s has mentioned traffic as the most concerned aspect of this city which is directly related to the road widths & which is again a myth or a sign of our unawareness (ignorance actually) regarding our city & its issues! First, let me put forward, “traffic has nothing to do with the road widths”; I am no great urban planner but I have been to some great cities & seen work of some great names which are respected in urban planning & I am resident of this city for more than thirty years, that has made me dare to make such bold statement!

Problem of our city is not traffic or roads or vehicles, problem of our city is our attitude towards the traffic or say transportation along with a blind eye(nose, ear, brain too) from the “Mai Baap” govt regarding real needs of this city’s residents for their commuting within & out of the city! As there are bigger cities with denser population & smaller roads in the world but the most “kamjor kadi” i.e. weak link with this city is public transport! And if poor public transport is not enough then very poor infrastructure of traffic control systems which we call as traffic police (that’s not right actually), I am not blaming their efforts rather I pity when I see a white shirt cop covered in smog & smoke & yet keeping his or her cool while he or she is dealing with the Punekars’ on roads, which behaves as they are at war (and I don’t blame them also)!. Though I personally feel again its attitude which is reflected in following the traffic norms may it be parking our vehicles or driving or the way we use roads & its outcome of Police dept’s not being able to create enough fear in the minds of the commuters & we blame it on roads!  It’s a debatable question that how much is an ideal road width & whether 6 m wide road are really good, well they have been for the years & there has been TDR as well FSI which was equal to that on the wider roads in past, I see no harm being done till now! I am not against or for of widening all 6 meter wide roads to 9 meters, I am just asking few questions to all of us as well trying to analyze the situation or say solution!

First & foremost, how we conclude that giving more FSI or TDR on 6 m wide road fronting buildings will create chaos on roads as well traffic, because are we going to allow residents in these buildings to park their vehicles on the roads adjoining to them & if not then what control we have that these 6 m roads are not having traffic issues even right now also? We need on one side affordable (joke) home in the city centre & we don’t want to choke the roads by the vehicles of these affordable home’s owners, right? Then why are we silent on not building a public transport system which will remove the need of even a 1 bhk (I mean small home) flat buyer to buy a car & two no’s of 2 wheelers for his daily needs of commuting? As well just do mind, urban planning is not about some concrete structures & metal subjects on roads but it’s about people & the people in this country love to flaunt their wealth, of which buying (read as owning) a car, big car is one of the most essential aspect! And whatever laws you make or public transport you build, people will buy cars & two wheelers just the way they spend lavish on the marriages & decoration & fire shows in those marriages!  So, it’s not about the road widths only it’s about how we can make these people refrain from bringing their wealth in the form of cars on the road, first by providing good public transport & second making them respect (read as fear) the traffic laws if at all they bring their cars on the roads & then road size won’t matter much, is what my logic is!

At the same time it’s not just about the vehicles & public transport, it’s about the use of roads & footpaths also, which we all know about. The irony of Pune’s roads (actual any town in this country) is where roads are wider there they are used for all other things than traffic & where they are narrow there is no space for even vehicles, so we are talking about miss-management of the traffic & that’s something nothing has to do with the road width! And the for years we have 6 meter wide roads & 9 meter wide roads & now we have 30 meter wide roads too which also get chocked in the peak hours of traffic so why to give more FSI on these roads too then?  High time to ask some basic questions about the studies we ever have made about the way we use our roads to our  so called planners & the govt, what it want as outcome actually when they widen some roads or allow some TDR on some such widened roads!

Last but not least, what about the trees aligned all along the narrow roads & wider roads which we are again re-widening, they were there since we started making the first roads & now only they can’t move away on their own, we have to cut them away & the new trees will take decades more to again give us the shed & oxygen but till then what about the air we will keep breathing, have we thought of it?  Guys, if we think of only the cars then we will end up only making the roads & flyovers, it’s high time to think about the people & the trees & the birds & may be then we can at least dream of a city where the debate won’t be about 6 meter or 9 meter roads but about good life & bad life; till then keep fighting guys, if that’s what you call as Smartness!

--

Sanjay Deshpande 

Sanjeevani Dev.


Please view my sharing about real estate in Pune at U-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/2021/01/post-lock-down-real-estate-home-buying.html

http://jivnachadrushtikon.blogspot.com/


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