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PAVE THE WAY FOR GROWTH

The Times of India (Times Property) - 1 July, 2011

The state government moots amendments to the MRTP Act 1966 to put town planning (TP) schemes on fast track, and this would benefit Pune’s development, says RAJIV DOGRA The state cabinet's nod to amend the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act (MRTP Act), 1966, to expedite implementation of town planning (TP) schemes sets the right tone for Pune's growth, say realty experts. Similar in line to the Gujarat government's move in 1999, amendments to the MRTP Act 1966 are stated to help in improvement in urban land management. Lalit Kumar Jain, Chairman and Managing Director, Kumar Urban Development Ltd (KUL) and President, CREDAI, says, "The said amendments have taken almost four years to frame. Finally, these changes see the light of the day now. In this regards, Gujarat remains the success model of its implementation; the government should aim to put right people and empower them so that they can effectively use this as a tool to bring in changes." As per the amendments introduced by the Gujarat government, a city-wide development plan (DP) is prepared in the first stage. While in the second stage, TP schemes are prepared to realise proposals in the DP. The second stage involves land appropriation, land readjustment and infrastructure development plan and financial provisions. Land owners are involved in the process, which includes reconstituting of properties, appropriating land, levying betterment charges, compensation and suggestions and objections. The expansion area is divided into smaller areas between one and two sq km each. Then, in a phased manner, each area is taken up for TP schemes. However, the most important amendment is setting a limit of three-and-a-half years for the implementation of TP schemes, the government said in a statement. A delay of 20 years in the implementation of the TP schemes was a major hurdle in its implementation. According to the amendments, the planning authority should publish the draft TP scheme within nine months from the declaration or within an additional period of three months. At the moment, there is no time limit on preparing TP schemes. It, therefore, takes up to 20 years for the same. As per legal provisions in effect, the TP scheme could be implemented only in urban areas but now it could be implemented in rural areas also. Now, the planning authority would get 15% of total land for sale. There would be reservation of 10% land for economically weaker sections (EWS) and for those who would get displaced. However, Rohit Gera, Joint Managing Director, Gera Developments, takes a sceptical stand when he states that it is essential that the government fulfils its promise this time around. "Based on the previous track record, I am a bit sceptical as till now we've had too many promises. We don't have a development plan (DP) in place till date, which is choking the city. It's throttling the supply against the concept of building the house stock. It's important that the government brings into practice whatever it proposes." Furthermore, growth in the fringe areas would reduce the burden on the city and shorter plans will mean restricting wayward growth in Pune region The state government's decision opens doors for the implementation of town planning schemes proposed over 1,400 acres in the 23 fringe villages surrounding Pune. Earlier, the 23 fringe villages were merged within the PMC limits in 1997. The civic body had then set up a planning committee to draft a Development Plan (DP) for these villages. The committee had submitted the final draft in December 2004. The DP was approved by the PMC general body in 2005 and, since then, it has been pending with the state government for approval. Now, with the amendment in the MRTP Act, the PMC can go ahead with the TPS in these villages. "Earlier, there were fewer areas under the (ambit of) MRTP Act. Now, with the state government extending its reach to the fringes of Pune, it opens up wider scope for growth," says Jain. Similarly, Atul Goel, Managing Director, Goel Ganga Group, says that the state government should look towards broader scope of development in a planned manner. "A city like Pune can grow provided the government implements the changes in a phased manner. The decision will also lead to planned development of the city."

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