PUNE: Owners of unauthorized constructions in Pimpri Chinchwad will have to pay double the property tax. The civic body will soon start issuing tax bills for 2012-13 and for 2013-14.
The move has come following a state government decision to allow collection of additional property tax from owners of unauthorized constructions.
The PCMC’s tax collection department has enlisted over 43,300 such constructions, to whom revised tax bills will be issued. Municipal corporation’s rules allow such an imposition.
PCMC assistant commissioner Bhanudas Gaikwad, who heads the tax collection department, said the civic body received the directives from the state government on November 22. According to the directives, until an unauthorized construction is regularized, the owner concerned will have to pay double the amount of the property tax, he said.
In November 2010, the standing committee and the general body had rejected the civic administration’s proposal for collecting additional property tax.
However, the state government later cancelled the decision and directed the PCMC to collect property tax as per the provisions in the municipal rules.
The civic body hopes to collect Rs 317 crore from property tax along with an additional sum of Rs 84 crore, from owners of unauthorized constructions.
The PCMC has recently started a survey of properties in the area. Besides verifying whether the property owners are paying tax, the civic body is also checking if the household drainage lines are connected to the underground drainage system. The civic body has already completed about 70 % of the survey.
PUNE: The notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) last month declaring about 60,000 sq km area of the Western Ghats as an eco-sensitive area (ESA) has been further amended to allow townships and area development projects of up to 50 hectare in the demarcated zone.
The MoEF notification issued on October 19 had banned “new building construction projects of over 20,000 sq mt, township and area development projects” in the ESA.
However, a new notification issued on November 16, has restricted building and construction projects to 20,000 sq mt and township and area development projects to an area of 50 hectare or with a built-up area of 1,50,000 sq mt. The previous notification has been withdrawn.
Environmental activists, who have been opposing the Union government’s decision of accepting the recommendations of the high-level working group, headed by K Kasturirangan, instead of those made by the Western Ghats ecology expert panel, headed by Madhav Gadgil, said the move was a further dilution of the measures to protect the ecologically fragile region.
Gadgil, who has been vociferous in his opposition to the Union government’s decision, said these developments seem to reaffirm the fears that the decision to carve out an ESA was only the first step before areas for development in the forested areas are notified.
The report prepared by the Kasturirangan Committee had recommended that townships and area development projects should be prohibited in the ESA.
“There has basically been an attempt all along to dilute the measures for the protection of the region. It really is shocking how systematically the restrictions are being diluted,” said Sumaira Abdulali, who had filed a petition in the Bombay high court seeking the declaration of the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg wildlife corridor as an eco-sensitive area. This had been followed by a moratorium on environment clearances for projects in the Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri district, which was lifted when the MoEF accepted the Kasturirangan report “in principle.”
Abdulali said although she was not aware of any particular township planned in the two districts but with the latest development, the threat of such projects mushrooming all over the Western Ghats looms large.
Sujit Patwardhan, founder of ‘Parisar’, an NGO, said the further dilution of restrictions on construction activity within the ESA had demonstrated that the Union government was more influenced by builders’ lobbies than being concerned about the welfare of the people.
“The Gadgil committee was trying to put in place an alternative to the top to down approach that we have towards development, empowering the local communities to take decisions on projects. That this was rejected for the Kasturirangan report was bad enough, but now they have diluted the safeguards further,” Patwardhan said.
“No township of any size should be allowed in the ESA. They should be protected biodiversity reserves. The existing villages in these areas should be given the responsibility of protection and paid substantially for the same for delivering environmental services,” said Green activist Aneeta Benninger questioning the purpose for building townships in the region.
The land acquisition for Pune international airport is already 65 per cent complete and there will be minimum displacement of villagers. The state government gave the green signal for the Khed Special Economic Zone site for the airport after six years and after assessing nearly eight sites.
“The obstacle-free land at the approach and take-off path, a large portion of acquired land for SEZ and the area meeting optimum airport requirements with two independent parallel runway operations made it a very feasible option,” said Tanaji Satre, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Maharashtra Airport Development Company.
While the Chakan site was earlier announced as the airport site, the large-scale land acquisition and displacement of families had proved to be an impediment. The fact that the land was close to Bhama river and required levelling a hill had forced the officials to look out for other options.
“The aiport needs 1,268 hectares of land, of which 65 per cent has already been acquired. Nearly 1,500 hectares was needed at the Chakan site. There were two high-tension lines which had to be shifted. But in the present site, only four towers need to be shifted,” said MADC officials.
Concerned villagers and resistance from farmers in Chakan was another issue that forced the administration to look for an alternative site. “In the Chakan site, six villages and 1,000 families would have been displaced. In the present site, only four hamlets and 180 families will have to be relocated,” said the officials.
Chakan site’s proximity to river was a major issue. “In the Chakan area, most of the land was irrigated land. In the case of the present site, it is largely barren and will see minimum resistance from farmers. There is no need for hill cutting for the approach too,” stated a report. The present AAI masterplan requries a plot of land, 6.34 km X 2 km. This was not available at the Chakan site.
PUNE: The Maharashtra chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai) on Thursday welcomed the state government’s notification stipulating reservation of 20% flats for economically weaker sections, in schemes on one acre land, but said the government resolution needed more clarity.
The state government has come up with an affordable housing policy. As per the notification issued on November 8 by Sanjay Banait, under secretary, urban development department, every builder having construction on one acre of land or above will have to reserve 20% of the flats of the new construction for the economically weaker section and low income groups. It said the modification would be applicable to the cities with over 10 lakh population which include Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nashik and Nagpur.
It said 20% would be inclusive of both the flats and plotting schemes and would not be included in the builders floor space index (FSI). The area of this single built flat should compulsorily range in between 300-500 sq. ft. On project completion these 20% flats should be handed over to Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) at the prevailing market rate of the construction cost. The flats would be allotted by MHADA strictly on the basis of special lottery method. But if the MHADA doesn’t take the possession within 6 months, which is made mandatory by the state government, then the builders can put the flat on sale but at the rate of MHADA (construction cost).
Credai Maharashtra president Anant Rajegaonkar said, “We appreciate the government’s decision for increasing the land limit to one acre. The present notification is applicable for cities having population more than 10 lakh. At present, the city below the 10 lakh population has been exempted, but the notification stated that it may be considered at a later stage. We feel the need for exemption in such cities as the demand for small flats is low and it would result in pilling up of inventories.”
Shantilal Kataria, vice president, Credai Maharashtra, said, “We welcome the government’s decision to provide housing facility to economically weaker section at a low cost. This may help cut down slums in the city and provide affordable housing to weaker sections. The only difficulty is its application for plotting schemes. As MHADA is going to buy the 20% flats within the period of 6 months on completion of project, it would block the investments and would also lead to increase in expenses at the builders end. This may in turn affect the rates of flats,” he said.
He suggested that MHADA should allot the 20% flats during construction itself to prevent such issues. The scheme should also exclude the application of this notification in redevelopment projects. He said Credai would follow up the matter with the chief minister.
PUNE: The Bombay High Court has in a recent order reprimanded the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for failing to include members of civil society organizations in the tree authority. It has issued instructions on the body’s formation body and also how it should operate.
In an order passed by a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud on September 20, the court observed that the primary object of the tree authority was to ensure the preservation and protection of trees, planting trees and enhancing tree cover, but this purpose has been defeated. “The object of the act [the Maharashtra (Urban Areas) Protection and Preservation of Trees Act, 1975] has been defeated by the failure to co-opt members of civil society organizations in the tree authority,” the order states.
Currently, the tree authority has 13 corporators as its nominated members, but there is no representative from any nongovernmental organization (NGO), the court observed.
The PMC has told the court that it would restrict the number of corporators to seven and that only those corporators who are science graduates will be preferred. The court has also restricted the number of nominated members from NGOs to seven.
“The nominated members should belong to independent NGOs and PMC has stated that not more than one person shall be appointed from the same NGO. As regards the nominated members, wider representation needs to be given to diverse cross section of NGOs with a special knowledge or expertise in plantation and preservation of trees with a minimum experience of at least five years,” the order states.
The 34-page order also lays down the procedure to be followed for taking decisions on applications for planting, re-planting or cutting trees.
On being asked when the PMC will appoint the new tree authority as per the court’s guidelines, chief garden superintendent Ashok Ghorpade said that the PMC was awaiting legal opinion of its lawyers. “We have asked our lawyers to study the high court’s order and are waiting for their opinion,” he said.
Tree activists have welcomed the court decision. Activist Vinod Jain said, “Currently, the entire process of granting permissions for the felling of trees lacks transparency. If we want to raise our objections, we don’t even get a hearing. If representatives of NGOs are included in the body, we will at least be assured of a hearing and can hope for greater transparency in the process.”
The court has also instructed the PMC to form an expert committee which will look into the Geographic Information System (GIS)/ Global Positioning System (GPS)-based tree census. The court had set up a panel including professor Jitendra Shah from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay and Sunil Limaye, director of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, who carried out a pilot project. Another pilot project has been carried out by a private agency, Smart Survey.
As per the court’s directive, the PMC will have to float tenders to outsource the tree census and the expert committee will help finalize the technical aspects before the tender document is drafted.
The court has directed the expert committee to bear in mind the affordability, replicability, flexibility and scalability when deciding on the technical specifications.
Janet D’Souza, Vice-Chairperson, Maharashtra State Minorities Commission, on Sunday said that Christian cemeteries were being encroached upon at various places in the state. She was speaking at a function organised by the Catholic Association of Poona at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the city. D’Souza is the first woman appointed to the post of vice-chairperson of the commission.
D’Souza, who recently visited Aurangabad, Parbhani and Jalna, said the major complaint she received from people was that of lack of decent burial places. “We conducted our own inspection and found that several cemeteries were being encroached upon,” she said, adding that the collectors of respective districts have been asked to chalk out a plan to address the issue.
D’Souza said there have been reports of attacks on churches and minority educational institution authorities being harassed.
“We need to address these issues and the commission has a great responsibility. However, the community also needs to be pro-active in addressing issues and getting involved in the political process,” she said.
PUNE: The Green Pune Movement, a group of citizens fighting for the Biodiversity Parks (BDP), have written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and his deputy Ajit Pawar expressing concern over illegal holding of land tracts in BDP areas.
Anita Benninger, Sujit Patwardhan and Satish Khot, all members of Green Pune Movement (GPM), on Saturday mailed a letter of thanks to Chavan and Pawar for extending support to the BDP proposal, the fate of which now hangs in balance after the PMC general body okayed 10% construction on hills around Pune city.
The letter stated: “There are people who, every now and then, raise the issue of allowing constructions on the hills. They may raise the bogey that the small landowner will be put to difficulties. However, it’s worth looking into whether any of these are benami (holdings in name of others) holdings. In fact, the talk is that a few builders are controlling large tracts of this land. Further, it may be noted that since all landowners are being compensated, they still stand to earn.”
In separate letters addressed to Chavan and Pawar, the GPM members said, “We thank you for your unequivocal statement supporting Pune’s BDP and the need to preserve it and keep it construction free. The K B Jain committee did a thorough study of this proposal and strongly recommended that the preservation of the BDP should be the Pune Municipal Corporation’s mission. You are aware of the fact that the citizens of Pune had come out in large numbers not once but twice (number of participants were 87,000 and 78,000 respectively) and supported the BDP.”
The GPM members further said that signatures were collected on the streets of Pune and the awareness among citizens on the need for a green enclave has to be seen to be believed. The genuineness of the signatures collected by the GPM can be easily seen as compared to the repetitiveness of signatures in some petitions. Further, the concerned citizens took to streets in large numbers, time and again, to show how much the BDP matters to them. The GPM has demanded that the Jain committee report must be implemented in toto.
Meanwhile, in a letter to municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak, the GPM has demanded that the resolution permitting 10% construction in BDP, which was approved on Thursday, must be cancelled. “The municipal commissioner has the powers to refer this resolution for cancellation. The general body resolution goes completely against what the K B Jain committee recommended and accepted by the government and in fact is well after the time given for suggestions and objections. Hence please refer this resolution for cancellation,” said the GPM members in the letter.
PUNE: Like luxury cars, high-end housing with a flat costing more than a crore has seen great demand in the city. People are ready to pay for amenities and elegance said Gera Developments MD Rohit Gera during announcement of the developer’s launch of a super premium lifestyle residential project “Gera’s Isle Royale” located at Bavdhan.
“There is a great demand supply balance in luxury housing segment. Seventy-three per cent flats of a total 12813 luxury segment flats in the city have been sold by the end of June this year. Currently Pune has around 2,300 projects going on and merely 10 percent contributes in luxury segment,” says Gera.
Gera added that there has been rise in the supply of luxury flats by 60 percent and eastern and western corridors of Pune are expanding. “In June 2012 we had 124 projects and in June this year we had around 238 projects actually going on in luxury segment. The supply has been doubled in just one year in luxury segment,” he said adding that the profile customers of these segments as upper class service people from IT, BPO and manufacturing sector along with business category and people from Mumbai as well as Sangali, Satara Kolhapur.
Gera’s Isle Royale will have exclusive independent super luxury villas and lavish high rise apartments. According to Gera among areas with upcoming luxury projects includes Kharadi, Kalyani Nagar, Bawdhan and Baner. He said luxury housing forms 5 per cent of the total real estate business in Pune.
“Bavdhan is favourable for people IT, manufacturing, service or be professionals and still be close to their place of work. The major movement of customers is from existing home buyers in Baner and Kothrud who are looking to move out of the densely populated areas. It also has a very strong potential of being a second home especially for people from Mumbai as well as an investment option,” says Gera.
The bookings for Gera’s Isle Royale will open on October 5. It will offer state-of-the-art home automation technology which includes world class features like I-pad controls accessible from any part of the world. The new project will have Wi-Fi connectivity, guard monitoring systems, intrusion sensors with hooters, private elevators. Among other amenities Gera’s new project will have a luxurious 8,500 square feet swimming pool with underwater lighting, an elder’s corner as well as tennis and squash courts.
PUNE: The Pune chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Associations of India (Credai) will take a member-delegation of more than 100 to South Korea on a study tour, soon in search of a better price proposition and implementation of best practices.
A statement issued by Credai said that, the delegation will comprise real estate developers primarily representing small and medium sized companies from the city. The tour will take the delegation around to visit prominent city buildings and landmarks and study life cycles of the big projects.
As a part of the tour, there will also be an exhibition held on a one-to-one level of builders and local construction management companies, equipment procurement companies, material manufacturers and such other stake holders from Korea’s real estate sector, the statement added.
“The focus of this endeavour is to encourage trade between the two countries and for us to observe the best practices implemented by them and replicate them on home ground,” said Shantilal Kataria, vice president, Credai, Pune Metro in the statement.
The pattern of an yearly study tour of the city’s real estate players started back in 2005 and so far the Pune chapter has visited places like Dubai, Japan, Malaysia, Spain, London among other destinations. It will be an eight-day tour, the statement added.
PUNE: Pune based Kolte-Patil Developers (KPDL) has announced four new luxury projects in the city, to be spread over 1.8 million sq ft. Ltd.
Rajesh Patil, Chairman & Managing Director, Kolte-Patil Group said, “We at KPDL are pleased to add these projects to our Pune portfolio. KPDL always strives to come up with projects that are in sync with the modern times, and at the same time, offers buyers’ a holistic lifestyle. We are sure these projects will be resounding success and will help us further consolidate our position as one of the leading real estate companies in Pune.” Two of these projects, Tuscan Estate Signature Meadows and Downtown will be located in Kharadi, 24K Glamore at NIBMRoad- Undri and 3rd Avenue at Life Republic near Hinjewadi.
Sujay Kalele, CEO, Kolte-Patil Developers, said, “With rapid globalization, an increasing number of Indians are getting exposed to International lifestyle and prefer to have an exclusive address back home. Consumers are now open to spending that much ‘extra’ for that comfort and exclusivity. Keeping this in mind, we at Kolte-Patil have come up with new-age homes that cater to buyers’ exclusive tastes as well as aspirational levels. We are confident that these projects will redefine luxury living in Pune.”
KPDL has a significant presence in the city, covering multiple segments including luxury residential projects, integrated townships, IT parks and retail. Over the last two decades, it has developed over 8 million sq ft of real estate in Pune and Bengaluru. It is now in the process of entering the Mumbai market with upscale redevelopment projects. The group has 9 million sq. ft. of development to be commenced in FY 2013-14.