Monday, April 11, 2016

AMOEBIC GROWTH – URBAN SPRAWL

Size of a city, its growth and limits is a debatable topic with one side contending the need to limit the size and the other for increasing its limits.

In general, there is opinion among planners and experts that cities cannot grow unlimited. But restricting the growth becomes a problem for many cities as it continues its sprawl engulfing surrounding villages. Problems arise when the growing city is not able to provide basic services and good quality of life to its citizens.

34 Villages in question:

In May 2014 – State government issued official merger notification.

















Politics of merger: The previous state government (Congress – NCP) wanted the merger of 34 villages (allegedly strongholds of Congress and NCP) ahead of 2017 PMC polls and thus they initiated the process in 2014. In 2015-2016 budget allocation, the PMC had set aside Rs 25 crore for these 34 villages. But in the Draft 2016-2017 budget, no provision has been made for these villages. Also it is alleged that the BJP-Shiv Sena ruled State government is not in favor of merging the villages as it would reduce its chances of winning the next PMC elections.

Is Pune Corporation capable to handle these 34 villages?

Current city status:

FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED WHEN A CITY DECIDES TO EXPAND
Sl No
Parameters
Pune City
Comments
1
Current  Size
244 sqkm

2
After expansion size
500 sqkm
*Double the present size
*Greater than Mumbai Corporation
*Will become largest MC in state.
3
Current Population
31 lakhs

4
Current service levels
a
Water Supply
  *Major problem - Municipality supplying water only on alternate days – for few hours.
·   
   *Unequal water distribution - 350 litre per day per person in old city area & 60 litre per day per person in fringe areas (Viman Nagar, Baner etc )

*23 villages acquired in 1997 –gets very less water
b
Solid waste Management
Huge problem in many wards.

c
Transportation
Public transport – 15%, 2 wheelers – 55%
*Worst Public transport
*Newly added areas poorly connected by public transport.
*Rising Pvt vehicles
d
Slum
30% population
*Encroached on hills and river beds
e
Pollution
High to moderate

f
Reducing green spaces
Hills encroached, green spaces reducing
*Changes in climate and loss in bio diversity

Pune is grappling to cope with its current area and population; it is struggling to meet the requirements and services of its citizens. One can argue that all cities face these problems – but then all cities are not planning to expand to double their sizes. Additional villages will be a huge burden for PMC - Not a good idea..

Status of 23 Villages added in 1997 - In 1997, 38 villages were added to Pune Corporation and in 2001, 15 fully and 5 partially were removed. Thus net 23 villages were added in 1997 to Pune Corporation increasing its size from previous 146 sqkm to present 244 sqkm.  After the merging was announced, thousands of buildings were constructed in these villages. As the merger process dragged on, many constructions without plans came up. Today, PMC is struggling to provide basic amenities in these areas.

The same phenomenon is happening in the 34 villages in the current merger list. Since the announcement, the Collectorate and  state town planning department are flooded with building permission applications. This is because now the approvals will be easier as it is per Regional plan, once merged into PMC, Development Control rules will have to be followed. From May 2014 to March 2015, district administration has issued permissions for 10 crore sq feet of construction (Source: TOI, March 25, 2015). Many illegal constructions are already in full swing here.

SOLUTION??
  • It’s a fact that the surrounding villages of PMC are growing haphazardly and need regulation. The development pressures of the city are eating up the farms and open spaces in these surrounding villages. So the best solution for these 34 villages is to have a separate Municipal corporation, as it will allow for decentralized governance. Yes, it will take time to establish a system and machinery , but with the help from PMC and funding from state government, the new corporation will be able to manage within a few years.
  • Also there is a need to shift focus from Pune to its region.  Growth of Pune and surroundings in the recent years is attributed to the development of IT and manufacturing industry. The city and the neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad attract huge number of IT employees without housing and other basic infrastructure, thus burdening PMC for housing, transport and infrastructure requirements. Pune needs to dilute its growth to surroundings by developing satellite townships with employment and housing opportunities. Regional plan for Pune suggest new town to be established at a distance of 80 to 100 km from Pune – between Baramati and Kurkumbh industrial area. It also suggests residential townships at 25-30  Km ( Inner residential ring towns) & 50-80 Km (Outer ring towns) distance as ring towns to take care of housing needs.  The existing development in these areas shows that the Industrial  areas are developing but the residential area is not having the same pace of development.
Thus Pune should grow in synchronisation with the region and the regional plan should not be just another document but a guide for the city’s development plan.

Kindly share your opinion and suggestions.

Anu Kuncheria
anukuncheria@gmail.com