Their eagerness to get good roads, regular water supply and improved medical facilities was what attracted residents of most villages to the proposed merger with the Pune Municipal Corporation. However, providing these basic amenities would be an uphill task after the merger, unbridled construction activities having left hardly any place for public facilities to come up in these fringe villages.
“Of the 34 villages nominated for the merger, 28 conveyed their readiness to it. Most of us are eager for the merger. Presently we are under a gram panchayat which has limited sources of revenue and is devoid of many facilities which others under PMC get. We don’t have proper water supply, drainage system, hospitals, parks, crematoriums. While agreeing to the merger, this is what all of us had in mind,” said Santosh Tathe, a panchayat member from Ambegaon Budruk. Many villagers are anxious as ‘uncontrolled construction activity’ has left little space for public facilities.
The state government announced plans for the merger in November 2012 but it has yet to come into effect. The elections and change of government led to a delay. Since the first announcement, there has been unprecedented construction, and the boom is attributed to fear among builders and landlords that stricter tax regime and rules for land use after the merger would make development difficult and costlier.
Revenue officials estimate that around 2,000 to 2,500 new constructions have come up in a year. “In the last two months 450 new construction plans were cleared in these fringe villages. In Haveli taluka alone 1,233 constructions have been identified as illegal,” said Arun Pise, circle officer with Haveli Taluka.
“You can barely spot an undeveloped or agricultural plot in our village and new projects are being announced every month. I wonder where PMC will have space to build schools, hospitals, gardens or sport complexes. It would have been the responsibility of the district administration to make sure construction is regularised,” Arun Jambhale of Jambhulwadi said.
Additional district collector Pradip Patil said it was a complex issue and the collector’s office is trying to work out a solution with the PMC.