Your Space: Urban planning is extremely poor in Pune’s fringe

Water supply (considered the most valuable natural resource) for suburban areas is abysmally low. While PMC has itself admitted that they have no water meters, pressure and measurement gauges in place, the PMC does not know the quantum of water being received, supplied, distributed area-wise, even though there is a standard basis of charge on the property tax bill for all citizens.

pune Updated: Feb 11, 2018 15:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Urban planning,Pune’s fringe
People dumped garbage in an open space making life difficult for people living nearby in Bavdhan in Pune.(HT FILE PHOTO)

This is with reference to your coverage under the series ‘Expanding Pune: Issues and Concerns’ where you are focusing attention on the fringe areas of Pune (Bavdhan’s hills alive with sounds of change, February 10).

The Maharashtra Government and the Pune Municipal Corporation administrators need to appreciate the actual meaning of urban planning and sustainable development.

While the Development Plan of 1987-2007 included areas abutting the arterial roads that connect Pune to other cities and towns, these areas continue to suffer from the lack civic amenities.

Does the local administration have a feasibility and sustainability plan in place while giving builders approval for new construction? Today, mushrooming, unplanned construction has destroyed the salubrious environment completely.

When the Development Plan (DP) was due to be approved in 2012, citizens filed nearly 80,000 objections to the skewed plan. Thereafter it was put on the back burner until a three person panel drafted it for finalisation in 2016. In the meantime, even though there was no approved DP in place, work went about as usual, with the prompt granting of construction permissions without looking at sustainability.

Even today, water supply (considered the most valuable natural resource) for suburban areas is abysmally low. While PMC has itself admitted that they have no water meters, pressure and measurement gauges in place, the PMC does not know the quantum of water being received, supplied, distributed area-wise, even though there is a standard basis of charge on the property tax bill for all citizens.

Hence, while areas in the old city receive 24x7 water supply, those in the suburban areas receive about half an hour a day which is absolutely inequitable distribution of water. Thereafter, water supply in the fringe areas depends on the influence of the local politicians.

Most housing societies are then left with no option but to order water tankers and pay additionally for water. It is common knowledge that most of these water tankers are owned by influential people and relatives of politicians.

After the builder completes construction and hands over Occupancy Certificates to buyers to move in, the residents wake up to the reality of bad, incomplete or non-existent access roads, and complete absence of streetlights and footpaths. The local residents have no option but to cry hoarse as they ask for basic amenities.

The PMC’s approach to solid waste management is far removed from the principle of “Avoid, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Recover, Treat and Dispose.” Thus the filth caused by piling up of garbage is a sad reality in many parts of Pune, more so, the newly-created suburbs.

Although the Development Plan allocates space for local area markets and other public amenities, we only see an array of hawkers and vendors occupying the newly made footpaths, which also serve as parking lots. Delay in the eviction and re-location of these hawkers leads to the illegal occupation of footpaths, kerbs and side margins of roads and streets.

The civic authority and enforcement agencies look the other way when almost 30% of street, road width is occupied by commercial vehicles such a heavy trucks, tempos, luxury buses, radio taxicabs, etc. all doing business, earning profits, but free of charge with the blessings of the local administrators and politicians.

The result is chaos and congestion which only continues to worsen.

Thus, while the state government and the PMC has been approving the merger of villages in the periphery of the city, they have not been providing the basic amenities for which local taxes are being collected. This is in direct contravention of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Right to Life Article 21 of the Constitution of India. For infringement of the fundamental right under Art 21, a citizen can demand compensation apart from seeking the enforcement of the right according to the final order in a suo moto PIL taken up by the Bombay High Court.

The principles enshrined in Art 21 are to improve the quality of life of every citizen, make his or her life more meaningful, and not merely be an existence for which there is no alternative.

Qaneez Sukhrani

First Published: Feb 11, 2018 15:40 IST