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Thursday, September 16, 2021

Explained: Controversy surrounding Pune Municipal Corporation’s plan to lease amenity space

The standing committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation has given its go-ahead to a policy decision of leasing out amenity spaces. What is the policy, and how would it impact development?

Written by Ajay Jadhav | Pune |
Updated: August 22, 2021 12:45:16 pm
Explained: Controversy surrounding Pune Municipal Corporation's plan to lease amenity spaceThe leasing would be done through tender process and the base would be as per the present ready reckoner rate during the leasing of land plot. (File Photo/Representative)

The standing committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Wednesday gave a go-ahead to a policy decision of leasing out amenity spaces that would have a long lasting impact on the development of the city. The ruling BJP is pushing for it while the opposition NCP and Congress has come out against it while urging people to oppose it. There is opposition from civic activists as well. So what is the policy decision and how would it impact the development.

What are amenity spaces?

As per the unified development control (DC) rules, it means a statutory space kept in the layout to be used for any of the amenity such as open spaces, parks, recreational grounds, playgrounds, sports complex, gardens, convenience shopping, parking lots, primary and secondary schools, nursery, health club, dispensary, nursing home, hospital, sub-post office, police station, electric substation, ATM of banks, electronic cyber library, open market, garbage bin, assisted living and hospice together, senior citizen housing and orphanage together, project affected persons housing, auditorium, conventional centre, water supply, electricity supply and other utilities and their services.

Provision for amenity space in DC rules

In the areas of local authorities, special planning authorities and metropolitan region development authorities, amenity space on gross area after deducting area under reservations in the development plan (DP). It has to be provided by the owner or developer of the land. For the residential projects in area more than 4,000 sq metre up to 10,000 sq metre, at least five per cent of the area has to be provided for development of amenity spaces, while the projects in above 10,000 sq metre has to keep 10 per cent of area for the amenity spaces.

The amenity spaces should be developed by the owner for the uses as defined in amenity spaces. However, the authority may insist on handing over the amenity space to the authority, if it is required for garden or playground, municipal school, municipal hospital, fire brigade and housing for project affected persons.

PMC plan on amenity spaces

Leasing out amenity spaces for 30 years and extending it to 90 years after the approval from the state government. The leasing would be done through tender process and the base would be as per the present ready reckoner rate during the leasing of land plot. It would be mandatory for the private agency to use the amenity spaces for the purpose mentioned in the DC rules.

“This would help in developing amenity spaces in civic limits for 19 different purposes. It would ensure the amenity spaces are developed with participation of private agencies and provide a revenue source to the civic body,” said Hemant Rasane, chairperson of the standing committee.

BJP for leasing the amenity space

The amenity spaces remain vacant for long and are misused by public. The development of amenity space is started only after deciding its purpose as per the need of the area and consent of the local corporator. Further, the PMC develops it in phases stretched over years as per the availability of funds. The civic administration has to take into consideration the possible expenditure for maintaining the civic amenity in future and also the increase in manpower for handling it.

Also, the PMC has to spend additional money for equipment and items for the civic facilities developed on amenity space. “The leasing of amenity space would ensure development of them as early as possible and stop the misuse of vacant land. It would help the PMC have a new revenue source,” said Rasane.

Estimated revenue from leasing amenity spaces

The PMC has 270 amenity spaces that are vacant and enable the civic body to get total of Rs 1,753 crore in lump sum if leased for 30 years. Total 185 amenity spaces having a total area of around 54 acre do not have any reservation and can be used for any of the 19 purposes, mentioned in the DC rules. It would enable lump sum revenue of Rs 753 crore for leasing them for 30 years. There are 85 amenity spaces totalling 69.23 acre that already have reservations for developing specific facilities. The leasing will help the PMC get Rs 1,000 crore for leasing property for 30 years. The policy decision would be applicable for the amenity spaces that will come to the PMC from the newly merged 23 villages. The private agency will have to pay a lump sum rent of 30 years of the amenity space to the PMC and develop the property within five years of being allocated the amenity space.

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NCP, Congress opposition on leasing amenity spaces

Rajya Sabha MP of the NCP Vandana Chavan said the ruling BJP move to lease out amenity spaces to private developers needs to be opposed by people. “The reservations in the development plan and amenity spaces are meant to develop civic infrastructure for the public. The PMC should prepare a master plan for the development of amenity spaces,” she said.

City NCP chief Prashant Jagtap said the BJP move is in the interest of private developers and investors. “The amenity spaces are for meeting the demands of the citizens as per the need of the area but the BJP is eying on giving it in the hands of rich people,” he said.

Congress leader Ulhas Bagul said the BJP is trying to handover the civic plots for 30 years to the persons of their interest in the name of increasing revenue. “The policy is wrong and harmful for the city. We will continue to oppose it and would approach the court if required,” he said.

Civil society opposition

Civic activists across the city have protested against the PMC plan to either sell or lease amenity spaces. “The objective of amenity space to develop public facilities for the locals as per the need would be lost if private developers are given the land on lease. If the PMC develops the amenity space then it would be available for the public without much cost. If private developers develop them they will charge as per their wish to earn money,” said activist Vaishali Patkar.

Moreover, the private developers would go for a facility that will earn more money instead of thinking about the demands of the local public, she said adding the amenity spaces in specific areas would witness good response and only specific amenities will come up.

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