Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan keen on saving Pune's hills

Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan keen on saving Pune's hills
Peacocks like these are a plenty in the hills of Pune - this one is in the Taljai hill

CM Prithiviraj Chavan gave a patient hearing to Pune's citizens, corporates and NGOs to save Pune's hills for BDP

Green Pune Movement comprising thousands of activists and citizens are fighting tooth and nail to save Pune's hills from construction since the last decade

Pune's hills which are under threat of becoming concrete jungles despite a mandate to save them for Bio-Diversity Park (BDP) by the citizens as well as elected representatives, received a boost with Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan lending a patient ear to Green Pune Movement activists, NGOs and Corporates. The meeting took place at YASHADA on Saturday, February 19.

*Chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan announces state level group comprising government officers and citizens and gives eight days to come out with a solution to garner Rs.1,000 odd crore for acquisition of private land on hills reserved for Bio=Diversity Park (BDP)
* CM suggests JNNURM Model for procuring funds - Centre - 50 %, State - 30 %, PMC - 20 %
* For this he sets up a State level group with the divisional commissioner, municipal commissioner and collector as nodal officers along with Green Pune Movement activists and Corporates
* Time frame: 15 days

Other details below:
Meeting with Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan at YASHADA on Feb 19, 2010

At the beginning Chief Minister Prithiviraj Chavan was quite skeptical about reserving the hills of Pune for bio-diversity parks. He felt that it was an unpractical solution not to allot 4 percent construction on hills.

Dashing environmentalist and politician, Vandana Chavan, explained the entire sequence of events regarding the hills of the 23 villages that were merged with the PMC in 1997 and which have become the bone of contention between the PMC administration, corporators and citizens. She rightfully mentioned that never before in the country have citizens of a city come together so unitedly to protect the hills from construction. 90,000 citizens filed their objections in 2003 which compelled the Genreal Body of the PMC to vote for the `Green DP' wherein hills have been reserved for bio-diversity parks. She said since this is a public mandate as well as the mandate of the elected representatives, it should not be tampered with. Instead, now the issue to be taken up is how to acquire the land which would cost the PMC Rs.1,000 crore as the owners need to be paid as per the market rate. She told the CM that the PMC has been lethargic about acquisition, as there is no will. 

Mohan Dharia mentioned that since the decision has been made, it is now time for the PMC/state govt to quickly act towards acquisition. Hills are a matter of great public sentiment here and this should be respected. The environment of Pune too is at stake.

Urban planner and member of the planning committee of the DP, Aneeta Benninger informed the CM that she along with Vandana Chavan and Satish Khot have been continuously interacting with Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and today itself he has promised that he would allocate a substantial amount from the MOeF as he would like to make Pune an international example of urban forest conservation through peoples' participation. It is easy to work out possibilities of garnering Rs.1,000 crore towards acquisition, she said.

Atul Kirloskar mentioned that corporates could pitch in towards greening of the hill tops and hill slopes.

Prithiviraj Chavan stated that if Rs.1,000 crore can be garnered in a short time, then hills could certainly be preserved for bio-diversity. He suggested the JNNURM pattern of funding - out of Rs.1,000 crore which is required - 50% to be given by the central govt, 30% by the state govt and 20 % by the PMC.  He announced  a State Level Group with Divisional Commissioner Dilip Bund, Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Zagade and Collector Chandrakant Dalvi to be the nodal officers to co-ordinate with members of the Green Pune Movement and corporates. The Group would find out ways and means by which PMC can collect the Rs.200 crore (20%). 

Chavan, who should be congratulated for giving a good ear to all of us, also volunteered to procure some funds from NAPCC (PM's mission to curtail global warming). He would get these funds under NAPCC's Greening India and Sustainable Habitat Mission, he said. 

Acquisition by way of TDR or giving FSI was also discussed and will be explored.

The next meeting is on Tuesday.

The main reason pointed out by the CM for allowing construction on hills was that slums would encroach on them - a case of bad governance being condoned. Under the BPMC Act, the ward officer and the elected representative of that ward has the authority to take action against any such encroachment along with a police personnel.

1 comment:

  1. Is coming up with Rs 200 crores really such a big issue for the PMC? It now has an annual budget of Rs 3000 crores. We don't need Rs 200 crores in one year, it can be allocated over the next 3 years (do you think PMC will really acquire all this land in just 1 year!!). All PMC has to do is allocate Rs 80 crores, Rs 70 crores and Rs 50 crores in each annual budget for the next 3 years!