Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Some Adarsh solutions....
Buildings built with the blatant connivance or calculated blindness of , the powers that be, and in complete disregard of the laws of the land, are nothing new in Mumbai. This has been so for several decades. It is also observed, that those officers who are perceived as being obstacles in the development of such buildings and societies, are summarily transferred or removed from the scenario under some pretext.
The very inappropriately named " Adarsh " (= ideal) housing society scam wins the shameless award on all fronts. The land wasn't theirs, they misled authorities in various ways, they built 25 more floors than they were allowed to, registered owners for flats on those floors, and till the RTI activists forced the data out into the open, no one in the government, civilian or military thought of giving the project a second look. What is more, an adjoining piece of land was being eyed by some more unscrupulous government folks for construction of an Adarsh-2.
Consequent to questions in a rarely functioning Parliament, and various so called authorities, who were caught with their hands in the till, big guns like chief ministers were forced to resign, the environment ministry stepped in to check if CRZ coastal regulations were disobeyed and have now recommended that this whole 31 storey building beemolished/destroyed/bulldozed, as an example .
There are many people who purchased flats here at a later stage, putting in their life savings, and were reassured by the fact that it had so many big shots as members, that there would be no problems anywhere in the paperwork. These people are now upset , and wish to know what happens to their money.
(This is a bit like the Mumbai roads, where the Municipal types , hand in glove with the road contractors, deliberately certify substandard work, and get paid again and again, cuts going to facilitators, and nobody gives a damn about subsequent traffic and pedestrian problems, or what is worse, ambulances carrying emergency cases, who get stuck in the mess, sirens blaring desperately. Unlike the fellows above cribbing about life savings, here it is an actual life involved, and these delays often prove fatal. But the big difference is that we are lowly tax paying citizens and these are corrupt leaders, legislators and politicians).
Apart from this blame game, the building scheduled for destruction, has involved millions of man-woman hours of very hard work by some very ordinary rural folk, imported for this work from rural areas, and made to work, possibly by bypassing, and flouting safety norms , all so the contractor can increase his profit. There is a huge amount of material that will go waste in this demolition exercise. There will be immense noise, dust, and possible money pollution associated with this.
And unless, the environment ministry does a survey of all illegal buildings in Mumbai, and takes similar action, this one-off recommended action by the Environment ministry will be seen as a symbolic action, and will go the way of all symbolic actions, like bureaucrats posing with brooms and protective hats on "Keep your city clean " days, while unprotected municipal class IV conservancy staff continue to fall and drown unprotected into drainage manholes, and suffocate in the gases..
The question is what do we do with a 31 storey building.
It is clear that unless they had planned the 31 storeys at the foundation stage (deep enough) itself, somebody didn't suddenly get an evil brainwave at the 6th floor, and suddenly decide to build 25 more. The land, it seems belongs to the Military, but nothing was done about it, and eyes were kept closed, to enable Military types to buy flats there.
It seems like a good idea, to take away all the flats from the people who have registered and bought them there. None will be homeless, as they have other homes, maybe several. Possibly in Mumbai itself.
There are some more ideas.
a). Shift all the ministers out of their sprawling bungalows in Malabar hill, and allot them a flat each in Adarsh. This will sharply cut down house makeover costs, at public expense. I don't pay my taxes so somebody can have silk curtains in a room with 5 AC's, or so that someone can order expensive furniture for a totally unnecessary makeover. Come to think of it the minister needs a makeover, not his house. The possible emptying up of large sprawling tracts of land in that area, would possibly lead to some planned forestation efforts in an area where we now speak of heights of buildings, shamelessness and power, instead of heights of old trees.
b) Convert the building into a subsidized Children's Hospital, where people from all over Maharashtra/India can come and get the best of treatment, with some lower/upper floors reserved for dormitory accommodation for the parents of admitted kids.
c) A Working women's hostel, as well as a place of refuge for the increasingly ill treated senior citizens, with adequate security. This security could be provided by our military because it is supposed to be their land.
d) The solution to revert back to the place as residences for the Kargil War Widows is also possible. However, a house is more than rooms and walls; it is also about extended family, reliable neighbors, social milieu and interactions, and there must be then a way of ensuring that the house remains with whoever it has been granted to. Most times, senior extended male family members rule the roost, take over the benefits accruing to the widow, and she is back where she was. Unless the government can set up a vigilance system for the occupants, this solution will not work.
e) Maharashtra Police at the lower levels have inadequate benefits. They need more recruits, they need to offer more benefits at the basic level, and police housing is something which has been crying for action. Adarsh could be something where they could have police housing for the lower echelons. Officer levels have guaranteed housing with cars and orderlies, and these facilities are often times abused. It is time that we did something for those, who risk life and limb on the roads of Mumbai, regardless of the weather, with inadequate protection (armswise), provide you the one live captured terrorist at the cost of their life, only to have the top echelons, move around in beaconed cars, giving endless statements and excuses about inefficient non-working bullet free jackets and messaging confusion during 26/11.
There could possibly be more innovative solutions I think the first one would be a cost saving one. The Mantralaya offices would be within walking distance. Minister types walking with their alphabetically enabled security detail, would draw admiring glances from the public, avoid traffic jams, improve pedestrian facilities in a city that believes only in 4 wheelers. There would be an immense saving in petrol. The WSJ, Time and Huffington Post post will write about this, and maybe we can arrange for the symbol obsessed types to wear a beacon on their head as they walk to work.
It just occurred to me that when we ordinary people think of investing in a flat, and particpate in getting a loan or membership in a housing society, we are always asked to submit a court affidavit on stamp paper , declaring that we do not own any other property within the city. I wonder what all the cheaters at "Adarsh" did . Or maybe , their affidavits were actually printed on stamp paper which was itself part of the earlier Telgi Stamp Paper Scam . So much for false declarations on false stamppapers, or true declarations of false stamppapers, or false declarations on true stamppapers.....Never mind.
I wonder if you have any other solutions for the usage of this building . ..... suggestions welcome!