After a delay of six years, the state government at last approved the development plan (DP) of 23 villages merged in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), but the decision on the controversial proposal of biodiversity park (BDP) on 2,416 acres would be taken after two months by choosing one of the options of allowing some construction or giving transfer of development rights (TDR) for land acquisition.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan on Thursday informed reporters about the decision of the state government. He said he has signed the DP of the merged villages and it has come into effect.
The PMC as the planning authority had sent the DP to the state government for approval on December 31, 2005. Various governments since then had not taken the decision to approve the same. A proposal for developing the BDP on 2,416 acres on the hills in these villages had become a bone of contention.
It was proposed in the plan that no construction be allowed on the land in the BDP. Green activists as well as the Congress and the Shiv Sena strongly supported the provision. But the landowners and farmers demanded that they be allowed to carry out construction on their plots. This demand was supported by an influential section of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Another aspect is the cost of land acquisition. There are privately-owned 1,910 acres in the BDP and Rs1,000 crore would be required for acquisition. The PMC does not have adequate funds for this.
Chavan said green hills have to be maintained in the larger interests of the city. However, there is the question whether the PMC would be able to protect the land and plant trees.
If the private landowner comes to know that he cannot gain financially then there is a tendency to allow slums and in return get money. Slums on the hills of Parvati are an example in this regard.
He said that in order to ensure the land on hills is protected, some financial interest of the landowner has to be ensured. Hence he was considering two options regarding the BDP. One is allowing some construction at 4% or 8% of the area of land and the other is giving TDR to landowners, so that the PMC can acquire the land. There is a need of Rs1,000 crore for land acquisition and the PMC does not have the funds.
The chief minister said a committee of bureaucrats and experts would consider these two options and give recommendations within two months. After that the state government would take a decision on the BDP.
In the DP area, 821 acres is shown as low water availability zone and floor space index (FSI) on only 0.33 was allowed. However, the PMC has completed water supply project in this zone and hence the zone is cancelled and the area included in the residential zone.
Some area has been shown in the DP as biotechnology and agriculture zone. But the state government thinks that such a special zone is not required and hence it has been cancelled and included in the residential zone.
An area of 1,444 acres has been shown as town planning scheme (TP) in the draft DP. But the PMC can promote TP schemes wherever it finds it appropriate and there is no need for a separate zone for TP in the DP. Hence, this zone is cancelled and included in the residential zone.
He said the state government has already approved the DP of Baner Balewadi i.e. unit one on September 18, 2008. The reservations for road and water supply projects in units 2 to 10 in the DP are already approved.
The chief minister said that in case the DP is approved by the state government, the PMC will be asked to resubmit proposals for 54 reservations.