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!


  1. Awesome suggestions..I think the first one should be implemented! ever thought of joining politics? you would make a super minister with such clear thought process :)

  2. I agree with R's Mom! Those people SHOULD take ur suggestions ;)

  3. Very creative and constructive suggestions. Why don't you send to Chief Minister? Or Press? I am serious.

  4. i'd go with the 1st option too! is there some way we can actually make this happen??

  5. Interesting. Things need to change whatever distance we neeed to go.

  6. I too agree with first solution .Important is for our poor country constructing a house costs so much & now we bring down a painfully constructed building!Principal is that,we should not destroy a thing possibly we cant make one e.g. animals,environment etc..We want it to be destroyed to give a lesson then their are solutions like attaching all the property of THE people for benefit of poor & poorest in some beneficial way!!Earning by renting out the flats & utilising funds for some charity avoiding interfearance of politicians may be more positive way.

  7. You came up with some excellent solutions.
    I think I am safe in my cottage by the woods.
    Have to stay well !!

  8. I never liked the idea of the building being brought down, because that is a waste. Loved your suggestions. If only the decision-makers could read this and think like you.

  9. What a sorry state of affairs and how frustrating it must be to see it all happening and be powerless to do much about it . Perhaps your words will give rise to thought and cause ripples

  10. Barbara,IHM,Ernestine,A1,NSIyer,quaintkal,Aativas, Swaram, R's Mom Thank you everyone for the nice comments. I am sure these kinds of suggestions have been put forth to the Government by someone else too. But the principle seems to be "If I cant get it, you too can't."

    We wait and see. :-(

  11. First, Congrats on the Blogadda pick. Totally deserving... :) :)

    And I am amazed at the way u think, Suranga...fantastic suggestions. Certainly the Govt can benefit from ur ideas, if they choose to read this blog... ;)