Biodiversity Parks in Pune's fringe DP and the 8% TDR




Last week, The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, signed on the proposal to keep intact the Biodiversity Park (BDP) reservation on the hill tops and hill slopes in the New DP for Pune's fringe areas. While, acknowledging the fact that there are many small time landowners in these areas, a 8% Transferable Development Rights (TDR) is being granted as a relief from the hardship faced by these landowners. The two questions that really remain unanswered are the following:
1. What if a large Builder was holding a land area in BDP? Would he also get a 8% TDR?
2. Would a 8% TDR be sufficient for a small landowner to buy a house which he would have built on his land?

Again we have to note that the price of a TDR is dependent on market demand and supply conditions. If a large TDR suddenly becomes available, it may mean that the price of TDR goes down, thereby the landowners lose the value of the land commodity. Further, it is anticipated that Developers who have invested in land on hill tops and hill slopes would end up distorting the TDR market.

Time and again, I have spoken about the fallacy of a 'blanket rule'. In a country like ours, where diversity is the game changer, why do we insist on making rules that are applicable to everyone? Why do we remain in the area of Generics, where enforcement can only be guaranteed with Specifics?  Principally, yes, the policies need to target a single objective, but for enforcement, can't we really look at a variety of enforcement options rather than make everyone fall in place for a single intractable rule?

In case of the private land under the BDP, I think that principally, all of us agree that hills need to be saved. I have also maintained, quite strongly, that Private Property, ensures that we don't end up re-enacting the 'Tragedy of the Commons' (Read More on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons).

Worldwide, it is a well known fact, that lands under common ownership or Public Ownership tend to be misused and environmental degradation is most commonly and severely found on public lands. On the other hand, private property is cherished, enhanced for the simple reason that there is Ownership and there are direct economic benefits!



So, if the principle is to ensure that Hills are conserved, preserved and enhanced, controlling and regulating private property would be the best enforcement option. Displacing people for the sake of environment will always tend to result into unwanted consequences and finally even destruction of the environment.

Whenever I promote the concept of private property, I am always confronted with an argument that most large land holdings under BDP are by Developers who will end up making large housing developments, wide roads and  thus result in destruction of hills. I completely acknowledge this aspect and know that there is a serious threat of this happening. However, even now, with a 8% TDR, we are unsure if the major beneficiaries are the Developers, small plot land owners, both or none! Will this really end up in conserving our hills?

Hence, I continue my beginning argument that lets not make blanket rules! Lets differentiate between small plot owners versus speculative businessman when we enforce rules. Small plot owners with their 8% homes and maintained gardens will enhance the value of the hill slopes. Un-buildable slopes and hill tops will also be maintained by these property owners who stand to benefit from keeping the surroundings clean, green and free from slums. Its a direct economic benefit to the land owners, after all.

There are many tools and these can be explored, only if, our government wakes up to the idea of single policy-differential enforcement! Mechanisms like arbitration, case-by-case resolution need to be employed to be able to enforce a basket of rules. After all, when we are all so different in every other sense of life, shouldn't enforcement also follow a similar path and address the concerns, aspects and variety of this diversity?




Comments

  1. As your analysis indicates, there are no easy answers to this. First of all, I don't know whether giving 8% BDP is enough to compensate land owners. Like many other things, our country does not value individual land owner rights. People often justify government appropriating land until it is their land that is being acquired. Secondly, I agree that the best way to protect hilltops and slopes is to allow private construction at the foothills. People that will live in these communities have the highest incentive to prevent these hills from being exploited for mining, slums etc.
    Saleel Limaye

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  2. Appreciate the time taken to pen these thoughts and more grateful to have shared them with me amongst others.

    There are several holes in the theory you have proposed on BDP. Only a few i am listing here in very brief:
    1. To have specific laws in a country with such diversity and freedom of expression and ease of going to courts would spell a clear disaster for governance.
    2. There are no guarantees that large builders will not buy out small plot owners enmasse to have have large housing colonies on hills as against small beautiful home that is being dreamt of (and i wish i could really have the audacious liberty to dream the same!)
    3. The TDR being given will be used by developers to use elsewhere so protection of hills from these corporate marauders is assured. its is another matter that slums may come up on this land but then i believe if they do, the city's municipal commissioner should be charged with negligence of duty and criminal case be filed against him/her (as one city MP also an advocate had suggested).
    4. It doesn't take too much money to build a solid high fence/wall around the protected zone and guard it (as proposed by mr. a.firodia). and maybe charge a fee for people to use this for walks etc.
    5. It is very easy to build any kind of road on any kind of harsh hill slope land as all kinds of machinery is available today.

    These are my humble views and i am not a urban planner or any kind of expert. all i wish is that such a natural gift which helps in rejuvenating our rivers and our lungs ought to be kept devoid of construction. allowing the city to expand horizontally with good (reliable, affordable, punctual et al) public transport connectivity is all that we need.

    All i can say is 'well done CM'. Lets all see how it goes on from here on.

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  3. You talk about the tragedy of commons. I think collective responsibility and its value is simply brushed aside by referring to the tragedy of commons. World over, and I can also give you many examples of our own country and state, commons have been protected best by locals when they are shared. This needs effort, especially a respect for rules made collectively and the ability to penalise those who don't follow these rules. But today, we give too much importance to the individual, at the cost of society. I think we are shying away from this effort and want the easy way out.

    It won't work.Because we have not respected the collective rules, we often think that commons cannot be protected. That assumption, I think, is incorrect..

    Thanks!

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