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Urban Planning

Rainwater harvesting is law, but has no takers

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Deccan Chronicle         17.12.2010

Rainwater harvesting is law, but has no takers

December 17th, 2010

Dec. 16: The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s Rainwater Harvesting Regulations (RWH)-2010 have finally been gazetted a year after RWH became mandatory. As per the BWSSB (amendment) Act that came into effect on August 27, 2009, RWH is mandatory for all existing houses with a site dimension of 60/40 feet and above, and all new houses with a site dimension of 30/40.

These regulations have clear guidelines towards the implementation of RWH. As per the guidelines, roof-based rainwater must be harvested using pipelines following which, it must filtered and stored in a collection tank or storage structure placed over the ground or underground. This water can be used for non-potable and potable purposes only after the same has been treated to the IS 10500 standards.

Surplus water can be diverted to recharge open wells or borewells. The regulations also state that contaminated water should not be used for artificial recharge and appropriate disinfection methods must be practiced before diverting the water to an open well. To recharge borewells, the rain water should be filtered and stabilised in a sedimentation tank before being put into the well.

In addition, expert advice has to be obtained before recharging any bore well. The regulations also state that in the case of roof-based rain water harvesting or recharge, a provision of 20 litres of water or more per square metre of the roof area should be adopted.

Land-based rainwater harvesting should be done using appropriate ground water recharge structures or pits, depending on the nature of the sub-soil conditions. For the same, the capacity of a storage structure or, for artificial recharge to ground water, a provision at the rate of 10 litres or more capacity per square metres of land surface shall be adopted.


PCMC will decide on 234 acres on Saturday

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Times of India       16.12.2010

PCMC will decide on 234 acres on Saturday

PUNE: Over 234 acres of land in the green zone, meant for agriculture, in the fringe areas of Pimpri-Chinchwad near Moshi is all set to become residential, if the general body and the state government approve a proposal mooted by the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.

The proposal was recently approved by the PCMC's law committee. It says that the use of 95 hectares of land at Chikhli Borhadewadi in Moshi should be modified from green zone to residential zone. It will be discussed at the general body meeting on Saturday.

The land was earlier in the 1995 development plan of the Pimpri-Chinchwad New Township Development Authority (PCNTDA). Some areas of the development plan were later brought under the development control regulations of the municipal corporation. The 234 acres of land is also under the development control regulations.

Avinash Patil, deputy director of town planning, PCMC said that the land use was being changed to prevent encroachments on it. "The change in zoning will happen only after the general body approves the proposal. The state government's approval will also be needed," he said.

The civic body will first undertake a land-use survey, and prepare a map considering the reservations. It will then plan new roads in the area.

Suggestions and objections from citizens as per the Maharashtra Regional Town Planning Act for changing the zone of the land will be invited.


Urban sprawl on farmland is not healthy

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The Times of India       16.12.2010

Urban sprawl on farmland is not healthy

PUNE: The state government's hurry and eagerness to change vast tracts of agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes has raised concerns about land-use patterns, environmental degradation and decline in agricultural produce resulting in food security issues.

Urban planners and other experts are worried about the execution of such changes which, besides being mindless, will be ecologically damaging.

In the past few years, thousands of acres of agricultural land have been changed to industrial, housing, tourism and other non-agricultural purposes.

Take Pune's case. During the 180 years from 1817 to 1997, the urban area of Pune grew from a mere 5 sq km to 700 sq km, expanding rapidly after independence. According to the Pune Municipal Corporation's statistics, between 1901 and 2001 (estimated), the city's urban population has grown 25 times, from 1.64 lakh to about 42 lakh (estimated figure for 2001).

The state government's relaxation of restrictions on conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses has led to agricultural land in the fringes of the city like Hadapsar, Mundhwa and Kondhwa, Sinhagad Road and Wadgaon Dhayari becoming residential.

The government ordinance in 1994, which stated that permission for non-agricultural use of agricultural land is not required in areas where the Regional Town Planning Act, 1966 is in operation or a legally declared industrial zones exists or is finally accepted or proposed boosted such growth.

Morover, in November 1996, the government threw open hilltops, slopes and forest areas in the state for development as hill stations, tourist and holiday homes. This brought private players to the scene.

Against this backdrop, the Pune Metropolitan Planning Committee (PMPC) will make a comprehensive development plan for the 2,900 km Pune Metropolitan Region (PMR) covering two corporations, three municipal councils and two Cantonment Boards, and several gram panchayats. These areas still have vast agricultural lands.

"The city and the region is expanding at the cost of farming. It is outrageous, anti-national and callous to convert productive agricultural land into residential townships and SEZs. These steps are disastrous and will lead to a major socio-economic crisis," said urban planner Anita Gokhale Benninger.

Former assistant director of town planning Ramchandra Gohad said, "The ongoing change in purpose of the agriculture land is on an ad-hoc basis. The regional plan for Pune was prepared in 1993 after which the region has undergone immense change. The district collector has no mechanism to check if the land conversion is really required."

The loss of agricultural land to human settlements is of serious nature in India. As per estimates, about 1.5 million hectares of land (mostly agricultural) supported urban growth between 1955-1985 and another estimated 800,000 hectares were transformed between 1985 and 2000.

"The availability of more land does not always means more houses for those who need it. Notwithstanding the conversion of agricultural land for other purposes, slum dwellers will continue to live in slums. No one is going to build affordable houses for them. So the situation is going to remain the same. However, the big loss is for agricultural land which will destroy the biodiversity," said Gokhale-Benninger.

Veteran activists like Sulabha Brahme have pointed out that even tribal areas of Pune, Thane and Nashik districts have not been spared. The tribal communities are being deprived of their means of livelihood and the land under cereals and pulses is declining, threatening food security, she has said.

The landmark Forest Rights Act, 2006, which recognises the right of the tribal communities to live in the forests, was expected to improve their lives. It was enforced in 2008 all over the country.

However, environmentalists and activists are concerned about the slow and sometimes faulty implementation of the act in the state. The act recognises the forest dwellers land rights, rights to use or collect minor forest produce and to protect and manage the forest. But the implementation has been tripped by the complex local land tenure systems, lack of evidence about ownership and poor knowledge of the provisions of the act among those who claim rights.

Sampat Kale, assistant professor with Tata Institute of Social Science's school of rural development in Tuljapur, said the government should follow a legislation to protect land, forests and environment permissions to ecologically harmful projects should be avoided.

"There should be a comprehensive plan for the preservation and use of natural resources. All development should not concentrate around Pune and Mumbai. There are other parts of the state which need development," he said.

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