PCB population down 10%,dwellers say living conditions poor

Officials blame it on restricted Floor Space Index, over 35 mutations pending with defence authorities

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Pune | Published: September 11, 2013 2:13:44 am

The 2011 census figures of Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) has shown a decline of almost 10.5 per cent in the population as against the 2001 figures. This at a time when the population of the country,in the same decade,has increased by 17 per cent.

According to 2011 census,which was received in August by the PCB,the population of Pune Camp is 71,781 as against the 2001 population of 79,965. While cantonment board officials and members pointed at limited area of the board and restricted Floor Space Index (FSI) as the reasons,residents complained of poor infrastructure resulting in poor living conditions and archaic rules that cause delays in repair works of residential bungalows,delays in mutations besides others.

The delayed 2011 census report,which is also expected to set the ball rolling for already delayed PCB elections,pegs the male population of Pune Camp at 37,046 and the female population at 34,735.

Observers say that a similar dip in the population was observed between 1991 and 2001,pointing to a continued trend of people preferring to settle outside cantonment limits. A PCB official said,“According to our analysis,the main problem is limited FSI in Pune Camp.” Currently the FSI in Pune Camp is 0.5 for bungalows and one for civil areas.

Arti Mahajan,vice-president,PCB,said,“There are problems with repairs of bungalows too. Residents of bungalows are not allowed to carry out repairs for the reason that their structures are under resumption. No mutations have taken place for years,thus hampering the buying-selling of properties.” Mahajan said the limited FSI norms in PCB limits have reduced the scope of expansion for old,British era houses in the Pune Camp.

“Today people have money. There are loan options available. But when the rules are such that you cannot construct or repair houses,the only option is to rent out for commercial use and isettle outside the cantonment,” Mahajan said.

What seems to substantiate Mahajan’s claim is the revelation by a PCB official that Centre Street,once a residential area,is today replaced by commercial occupants. Almost over 35 mutations have been pending with the defence authorities for years. No mutations have taken place in the past four years. An RTI reply had recently revealed that 224 illegal constructions have come up within PCB limits between 2008 and 2013.

The residents have a range of issues to point at. Advocate N K Bhog,lawyer and a resident of Pune Camp,said,“The quality of basic infrastructure has been on the decline. The roads are in a bad state. Hawkers occupy footpaths and major roads creating traffic jams. The drainages are choked. Water-clogging has resulted in people leaving houses from low-lying areas. PCB officials say that increase in FSI is the solution. But where is the infrastructure that can support an increased FSI?” A shopowner in the Pune Camp said increasing traffic is another problem.

“Cantonment was always projected as the ‘lungs of the city’. But increased traffic even on the smaller roads has destroyed the peace in the residential areas. Buying a house in Pune city is a much more viable option today than settling in camp,where rules and the living conditions are not citizen-friendly,” he said.

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