Pune civic body slaps notices on over 150 plot buyers for illegal structures on hill – ET RealEstate

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PUNE: Just weeks ago, Mirror had reported on the unsettling development of unknown landowners and agents taking advantage of the months-long COVID-19 lockdown, quietly excavating and levelling huge portions of the Sutardara hillock near Kothrud.

Shockingly, this tranche of the eco-sensitive Sahyadri ranges had seen the sudden appearance of pucca houses being constructed on pieces of land, with even approach roads and power supply snaking their way to the top, signalling the tacit aid of people in power.

But finally now, the development and construction department of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) seems to have swooped down to take action here, with a team of junior and deputy engineers surveying the hill and finding over 150 illegal constructions erected without a nod from the civic body.

Since Wednesday, the authority has started slapping demolition notices on buyers of these properties under sections 52 and 53 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning (MRTP) Act of 1966.

Through the notices, plot buyers have been instructed to remove any construction themselves, or face prosecution along with the demolition of their reinforced cement concrete (RCC) structures. Further, any expenses towards demolitions are to be recovered from the offenders.

Officers checking the spot also noticed that buyers seem to have been compelled to make the purchase given that all civic amenities were provided to them by local influential people, including approach roads, water supply, electricity connections and drainage lines.

Now, the officials have approached revenue authorities to know the names of the original property owners and suspected property agents involved in changing the ownership and topography of the hill.

Most of the construction has been observed on survey number 112 of Kothrud between Rambaug Colony and Shivteerth Nagar, in ward number 11of PMC.

The huge violation came to light after former deputy mayor Deepak Mankar approached municipal commissioner Vikram Kumar, demanding action against the illegal constructions on this no-development zone area, where any construction activity is prohibited. Part of the hill also falls under the biodiversity-park (BDP) zone.

Rajendra Raut, superintendent engineer attached with the PMC development and construction department, said, “Since most of our engineers are busy on COVID-19 duty, we could not complete the entire survey of the area. But so far, we have detected around 150 plots sold, where multistoreyed constructions have come up in a very short period of time. The area of each plot ranges from 100 square feet to 2,000 square feet. All constructions are of the pucca RCC variety.”

He added, “We have slapped notices on them. When manpower becomes available, we will track down all offenders and ensure that illegal encroachments are removed.”

Mankar’s complaint in this matter states that since April this year, unidentified landowners started leveling land on the hillock by cutting rock. Over 100 plots were created, barricaded and sold as smaller pieces. Many residents, under the impression that they are legal, purchased the plots and erected multi-storeyed houses.

Elaborating on the same, Mankar shared, “The shocking thing is that none of the authorities noticed this huge excavation held throughout the lockdown. This cannot happen without the blessing of the local municipal authority and a few political bigwigs. An in-depth investigation will certainly reveal names of influential political leaders and some land mafia involved in this scam — and it is going to emerge as a big one. Unfortunately, the buyers here are migrant workers, domestic workers, small traders, self-employed persons, etc. They may lose their life earnings to this fraud.”

Shyamal Desai, a civic activist and part of the Save The Hills movement in the city, rued the development, urging authorities to take stringent action. He said, “We have already lost hills at Parvati, Taljai, Warje and Katraj in the name of official excuses. Sutardara was the last hill giving a different identity to the city and the Kothrud area. PMC must act against such violations to safeguard these hills for the next generation at least.”

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Pune: Residents upset over increased maintenance fee by housing societies – ET RealEstate

PUNE: Several housing societies in the city have decided to hike the maintenance fee and residents are clearly unhappy with the move.

“We have suffered pay cuts and we’re trying to make ends meet in a limited budget. Though the income had reduced, bills have not. From this month, the management committee of our housing society has also increased the maintenance fee by 10%,” says Rupali Naik, resident of NIBM road.

Wanowrie resident Rahul Agarwal said, “I thought that the society is overcharging me but I found out that these are additional costs for sanitation that will be added to the maintenance charge. We don’t know whether it will be for the next few months or more. They have said that it is a temporary increase. In addition, we also have to pay for regular check ups for domestic help and security staff.”

Sumit Patel, a resident of Salunkhe Vihar, said, “Living in a housing society is getting very expensive. This year, the rent has been increased because the flat owner has to pay the extra maintenance charges.”

A member of managing committee of a single-building housing society in Kondhwa said, “We have had a couple of Covid-19 cases in our building. We have to keep up the sanitization standards to ensure residents’ safety. For this, the expenses have risen over the last few months we have been using our funds. Now, since sanitization costs have become a regular expense we have to add it to the maintenance charge.”

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Pune: Ready-mix cement plant in middle of Baner societies worries residents – ET RealEstate

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PUNE: At a time when the city is battling COVID-19, a virus known to affect the respiratory tract, residents of Baner, near Yogi Park, find themselves inhaling fine dust every day with a ready-mix cement (RMC) plant operational bang in the middle of a residential area and also just across the road from an old-age home.

Petrified, the local citizens have posted a complaint to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), highlighting how this worsens their vulnerability to the pandemic.

The plant, located on an open plot and flanked by residential societies such as Silver Dale and Urban Crest, has been operational for the past one month.

Worse, it is less than 50 metres away from the old-age home— Satyak — across the road. Residents have been complaining of the air becoming heavy with the tiny flying particles which has already led to respiratory issues.

“By now we all know how COVID-19 impacts respiratory functioning. Just when we need to boost our immunity to survive this pandemic, the RMC plant, running in our area for the past one month, has become a cause for concern for all residents here. The air is thick with dust and it is bound to affect our respiratory system. Should somebody get infected by COVID-19, his/her compromised respiratory functioning could even prove to be fatal,” Anuj Singh, an IT professional residing close to the plant, told Mirror.

Similarly, Suryakant Dalvi, a senior citizen from the area, complained, “We have a lush green hill in the neighbourhood which works like a local lung. But its advantage has been lost to the pollution the RMC plant is spreading. There is dust everywhere and we are facing problems in breathing.”

It may be recalled that in October 2019, Mirror had reported about an RMC plant that was running in the middle of a residential area in Balewadi. Pursuant to the report, the plant was shut down. Citing that case, the locals have urged PMC to take action against the plant in their area.
Pune: Ready-mix cement plant in middle of Baner societies worries residents“There are clear guidelines from the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) against any RMC plant being set up within 100-metre distance from any human habitat and further stipulating that it should maintain a distance 200 metres from sensitive places.

However, this plant is right in the middle of residential complexes which are all within 100 metres. This makes it clear that the plant is illegal, hence it should be shut down with immediate effect,” insisted Rajan Joshi, a senior citizen from the same locality.

Drawing attention to the offending unit’s proximity to the old-age home, Deepa Navale, another local resident and a homemaker, observed, “We’ve seen the senior citizens living in the home ritualistically using its common area to take in some fresh air. However, what they are unwittingly breathing in, the past month, has been air laden with fine dust from the plant. Should any of them develop respiratory issue, it will be difficult for them to recover.”

The air is thick with dust and it is bound to affect our respiratory system—Anuj Singh, an IT professional

All efforts made by Mirror to draw out the name of the owner of the plant from the workers present at the site proved futile as they refused to divulge any detail. Interestingly, despite the online complaint lodged by the residents, PMC’s assistant commissioner, Jaydeep Pawar, who is in charge of the Aundh-Baner ward office, was clueless about the issue. “I am not aware of an RMC plant being operational in a residential area. I will ask the officer concerned to look into the matter and ensure that necessary action is taken in this regard,” he told Mirror.

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One per cent of stamp duty allocated to Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur metros – ET RealEstate

MUMBAI: One per cent of all stamp duty levied on sale and purchase of property in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur will go towards completion of metro projects in those cities, the government has announced.

The decision comes in the middle of a pandemic-induced slowdown, when all major infrastructure projects in the state are struggling to raise funds.

A notification issued by the Urban Development Department on September 10 said as per the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act, 1888, and Maharashtra Municipal Corporation Act, 1949, 1per cent of the revenue will be collected by the Stamps and Registration Department and given for Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur metro rail projects. The additional charge will be applicable on all property deals from February 8, 2019, it said.

The government is studying different fundraising models for major infrastructure projects, a department official said. “The stamp duty levied on property will help the projects immediately. The emphasis will be on continuing the projects and completing them within the deadline.”

Mumbai Mirror had reported on September 4 that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) was struggling to raise funds for the metro project. If loans of Rs 29,000 crore do not come through in the next six months, the MMRDA may have to withdraw its fixed deposits of Rs 13,000 crore to fund big-ticket projects.

The planning agency has Rs 1.25 lakh crore tied up in 12 metro corridor projects, including around Rs 60,000 crore in seven under-construction lines and three that are in different stages of planning. Another key project is the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link, estimated to cost Rs 23,000 crore and likely to be completed by 2022.

All of these infrastructure projects are capital intensive. Sources said that on average, the annual expenditure on the projects as well as human resources and ancillaries touches around Rs 7,000 crore.

Pune Metro, which will connect Pune Central and the areas of Pimpri and Chinchwad, is targeted for operations by the next year. Its estimated cost is of Rs 11,420 crore. Nagpur Metro Rail Project will consist of a 38.215-km corridor, 38 stations and 2 depots. It is estimated to cost Rs 8,260 crore and is expected to be completed by 2021.

The stamp duty is the largest revenue earner for the government, after GST and sales tax and VAT. In 2019-20, the state earned Rs 29,500 crore through stamp duty. In 2020-21, it expects to raise only an additional Rs 500 crore.

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