Despite opposition from civic activists, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is all set to go ahead with its plan to lease civic-owned public amenity spaces to private agencies for development. Civic officials are going to table a proposal on this in the general body meeting soon.
Due to a variety of reasons, the PMC has not been able to develop the amenity spaces it has received from private builders in return of the equivalent Floor Space Indices granted to them for construction of buildings. The administration allots the land for developing specific civic projects relevant to the area.
Recently, the civic administration came up with a plan to give the amenity spaces to a private agency on long-term lease for developing public facilities.
Civic activists, however, have protested this plan, pointing out that amenity spaces are meant to develop civic facilities for local residents and handing these over to private developers will be against this very objective.
Explaining the reason behind the PMC’s decision, a senior officer said, “There is total of 1 crore square feet area of amenity space with the PMC. The civic body has not been able to develop it due to lack of funds and the plots have remained vacant for a long time. This leads to encroachment and the plots are often misused as dumping grounds.”
It is also difficult to protect all such plots, located all over the city, from encroachment, he said. “It makes sense to lease these plots to private developers for developing public facilities and using them commercially. It will fulfill the dual purpose of providing public facilities to local residents and ensuring they are not encroached upon illegally.”
The officer claimed that the plan will not only entail saving of civic funds, it will also lead to setting up of new public facilities for local residents.
But activists have maintained that if private developers take over these plots, they will also charge a much higher amount for using the public facilities developed by them.
Vaishali Patkar, one of the activists who has opposed the civic plan, said the very objective of developing an amenity space for the public will be defeated if private developers are given the land on lease. “If the PMC develops the amenity space, then it will be available for the public at a relatively lower cost. If private developers develop these spaces, they will charge whatever amount they wish to earn a profit,” she said.
Private developers will also opt for any facility that earns more money instead of considering the demands of the public, said Patkar. She said the PMC should not go ahead with the plan without discussing it with members of the civil society, otherwise the civic body will face protests over it.
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