One of the myths of common wisdom is the paradigm that poses planned cities against so called “free markets.”
Actually, a well-tempered land regime strengthens consistently performing urban development markets!
This is a symbiotic relationship, not an antagonistic one. Urban planning appears antagonistic where it is poorly conceived and ineptly executed.
Where there is scant participation of stakeholders and a large influence of corruption, the regulated system is but a pawn in the hands public sector criminals.
Despite all of the media hype, Pune remains an unplanned city! The last Development Plan for the centre of Pune was cleared decades ago. Town Planning Schemes are a matter of history.
Sadly, this huge metropolis has no holistic, integrated plan. Moreover, what we call Pune is not Pune!
There are numerous local authorities, cantonments, municipal corporations, an InfoTech city, MIDC industrial estates, new town schemes and now SEZ’s, all growing independently.
While the Pimpri-Chinchwad Development Plan was completed ten years ago, the Pune Municipal Corporation still flip-flops in the malaise of procedure, completing its patchy planning work in ill conceived and ad hoc chunks.
The units of planning have no meaning. What is the rationale for a Balewadi–Bavdhan Plan? Is it one watershed, or a ward? Is it a common catchment area for infrastructure networks, or an electoral constituency?
Who plans Khadki, Dehu Road, Lohegaon and Pune Cantonments?
What about Alandi, the Hinjewadi InfoTech Park, MIDC estates and Pirangut? Who knows what the Pimpri-Chinchwad New Town Development Authority is doing, restricted to a tiny corner of the metro?
While all other metropolitan regions in India have development authorities, we lag behind.
On what basis do we set FSI Ceilings? Why FSI 0.75 for some residences, 1.5 for others and 2.0 for I.T. buildings?
Why not 3.0? FSI is supposed to relate to the carrying capacity of an area’s urban infrastructure, not to the whims of bureaucrats proposing FSI 4.0 to pay for a Metro! Why not relaxations for weavers and potters?
No one has an answer!
There is no integrated road development plan inter-linking the diverse islands of urban mismanagement. Different bus systems ply common roads in the metropolis, with rapid bus routes exclusively for PMC carriers and not for private car pools, company buses or even State Transport buses.
What is the rationale? A much-needed metro is shoved down the throats of citizens confusing the fundamental issue of user friendliness with top-down stubbornness. We want a metro, but we want a well planned one!
Our airport has been remodelled five times in half as many decades, but is over-shadowed by Nagpur, Jaipur and Cochin. The least we expect are functional toilets! This is the only case of historic preservation in the city!
This fifth incarnation is but a shadow of what the region requires. Please focus historic conservation on our wadas!
Where is our new airport? How can students walk across University Circle, or approach Wadia College?
Can bicycles safely ply University Road? Why are cycle signs installed where no cycle paths exist? Why do people drive two-wheelers without helmets, four wheelers without seat belts, and that too all on the wrong side of the road, with no motorised police bringing order?
Why were footpaths removed on Fergusson College and Mahatma Gandhi Roads to make way for parking, with no space to walk after alighting one’s vehicle? Streets are for people!
The electric supply situation in Pune is unpredictable, creating an inefficient Gulag Archipelago of generators polluting the city. Imported fossil fuel is burnt, while indigenous power sources go waste!
There is no sustainable plan for power generation in the region, employing private suppliers as in Ahmedabad.
Koregaon Park, Pune’s emerging Pot Pong, is an example of a residential neighborhood being morphed into a cheap entertainment Babylon, lane by lane, bribe by bribe.
Bars, massage parlors and restaurants are spreading like a cancer through this once pristine residential area. Lacking modern sewerage systems the subterranean aquifer system, nullahs and rivers are polluted!
Polluted water is pumped up from tube wells, as the water table sinks down. This is a bonanza for our local corporators plying water tankers through their drought-prone constituencies!
Vast rural areas have been annexed within urban jurisdictions that our local bodies can never serve. The official attempt is to create more buildable land from agricultural land; from green belts, and from agricultural land, not new amenities and services!
These services and roads are beyond the pale of our local body’s imaginations.
The main road leading to the Balewadi CYG’s 2008 Stadium is still under construction almost two years after the games have ended, while the people of Delhi were disturbed about a day before the games!
Has anyone heard of the Pune Municipal Library? I hear they are collecting books by Rohinton Mistry?
The fact is that free enterprise thrives in open and transparent planned systems.
A property market cannot function unless buyers have some surety that land use zones are stable; water supply, sewerage and storm drainage will function; there is 24 X 7 electricity; roads will access properties; and that legal disputes will not arise over boundaries and even ownership.
Reserved plots for schools, hospitals, gardens and public utilities further enhance land values! The total lack of planning, and the lack of coordination between public bodies, assure the inhabitants of the Pune region that such a secure land market will never exist! Your option: become a land racketeer!
Is this oversight or a public policy? Is this neglect or a considered strategy?
Moreover, a Development Plan is not really what people think it is. It does not assure access to ninety percent of the habitable land; it does not institute rational plot boundaries, nor does it amalgamate odd shaped and small pieces of land into rectangular plots of sizes useful for the owners.
Within the Pune Municipal Corporation, many illegal layouts were sanctioned by village panchayats and then were ‘regularised’ by a measure called the Gunthewari Act, where defaulters were rewarded and honest citizens paid the price!
These layouts have no standard roads, no open areas or amenity spaces. To compensate for lack of amenities the FSI was reduced to 0.75, and any amount of their plots can be acquired for road widening, with no TDR, FSI or monetary compensation.
All of this chaos severely reduces the land supply and curtails the market turnover, driving up prices in an artificially constrained market.
Such a perverted land market benefits no one except spot investors who cash in, buying and selling during upward market swings. It benefits corrupt officials whose bribes grease the system. It benefits land sharks who steal land!
It benefits realtors who openly facilitate fake vendors!
There is a paucity of sanctioned layout schemes, pushing people dreaming of small cottages into apartments! And, the land prices push builders into the high-end creamy market! Where will all the people go?
In free market urban economies as diverse as Singapore and Frankfurt planning has been carefully implemented.
Plots have been pooled, reconfigured and the areas for roads and public amenities deducted, prior to handing over the remaining land back to the original owners.
In the private land management program of Magarpatta City, an effective method of bringing original landowners within the development process created an example our officials must emulate.
In the interest of an effective land market and property tax regime; in the interest of all realtors and land investors; in the interest of all architects and engineers; in the interest of all contractors and builders; and in the interest of all the people of Pune, we must insist on good planning.
Good planning is good business!