Will Fadnavis protect Pune’s bio-diversity zone?
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Will Fadnavis protect Pune’s bio-diversity zone?

Tremendous pressure from politicians, land owners to allow construction on hills

pune Updated: Jun 28, 2018 17:41 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,bio-diversity zone
Buildings have been constructed on hilltops of newly included villages within PMC limits. A view of Ambegaon Khurd.(RAVINDRA JOSHI/HT PHOTO )

The 978 hectares of land on the hills around Pune which constitute the bio-diversity park(BDP) zone since 2005 has been hit by controversies many times in the last 13 years. The opinions are divided and the state leadership is confused.

While environmentalist including NCP MP Vandana Chavan want the hills to protected as ‘no construction zone’ and serve as the ‘lungs of Pune city,’ there is tremendous pressure from politicians and land owners to allow construction on the hills.

Consequently, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis ordered a committee to be formed under Girish Bapat, the guardian minister for Pune, to review the decision regarding construction on BDP land. Accordingly, a meeting with all elected representatives and party leaders was held on May 4 at the Pune municipal corporation (PMC). A proposal was drawn to allow eight per cent TDR on BDP land and Saurabh Rao, municipal commissioner, wrote to the urban development department seeking permission to allow eight per cent TDR on BDP land in the city as well as allow construction of water tanks on the reserved BDP land.

Transfer of development rights (TDR) is a voluntary, incentive- based programme that allows landowners to sell development rights from their land to a developer or other interested party who then can use these rights to increase the density of development at another designated location.

The BDP concept is unique to the city without any precedent elsewhere in the country, thus making it difficult for the BJP leadership to take a firm decision on the issue. The concept was introduced while preparing the development plan (DP) for the merged 23 villages. The civic body has decided to label all the hills in the 23 villages as ‘no development zone’ and create a bio-diversity park(BDP).

While land owners are unhappy that their lands have been blocked under BDP, environmentalist feel that the lands should be acquired and the BDP should be maintained. The third view is that the PMC does not have the capacity to protect the land and eventually, slums would be formed on the land.

Though chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had taken a tough stand on the issue and had announced that no construction would happen in the BPD land, his own party( BJP’s) stand, from the beginning of the concept is to allow construction in the BDP land.

The BDP issue came to the forefront once again after chief minister shifted Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial at BDP land to Chandni Chowk and assured its construction in the BDP land as a special case.

It is now for the state government to decide whether to allow eight per cent construction on the biodiversity park land or just give transfer of development rights (TDR) and protect the hills.

Background

The Pune Municipal Corporation had proposed the Bio-Diversity Park (BDP) demarcation in 2005 while preparing the development plan for 23 merged villages. This included the city hills in areas such as Baner, Bavdhan, Katraj, Kondhwa, Bibvewadi and Sinhagad road, among others.

Under this BDP zone, 978 hectares land has been reserved. Of this, 124 hectare land is government owned and the remaining 854 hectare is owned by private parties. Land owners and some political parties are of the view that construction should be allowed in the BDP areas like within the old city limit.

In August 2015, the state government had issued a notification stating that no construction would be allowed in the BDP. The Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had rejected the demand to allow constructions by land owners in BDP. But again CM instructed the Pune leaders to convery their opinion on BDP while sorting out Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Memorial issue.

Let’s wait and watch, says urban planner Aneeta Benninger

Aneeta Benninger, urban planner and architect said that one must wait to see how the new decision works before suggesting changes.

“There are newspaper reports about the decision that 8 percent TDR as compensation would be given for the land reserved for BDP in the development plan for the newly merged 23 villages. This reservation was proposed in 2004 when the planning committee heard the objections/suggestions on the DP and submitted its report in December 2014,” said Aneeta Benninger.

After a long process, the BDP reservation to save the hills of Pune was passed by the chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis on August 5, 2015.

The issue is back in news after a letter was sent by the municipal commissioner based on the meeting held by the committee on May 4. The committee has in principle sanctioned the creation of ‘Shiv Srishti’ in survey no.

99 and 100 Kothrud, which is a part of BDP reservation. However, compensation in the form of TDR to the land owner has not been fixed. The letter also states that the Girish Bapat committee has proposed that 8% TDR should be granted to the landowner as compensation for land acquired for the BDP Reservation. After the sanction of the BDP Reservation on August 5

2015, no new decision has been made till date, so one will have to wait until a decision is reached to understand this further.

First Published: Jun 28, 2018 17:41 IST