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'61 flood-affected living in MHADA colony have a big reason to smile

As the sad memories of the July 12, 1961, flood resurface today for residents of the old city, those living in Lokmanya Nagar, a colony built for people affected by the devastating deluge caused by the Panshet dam bursting exactly 51 years ago, have something to cheer about as their homes are now up for redevelopment.


MHADA president Ankush Kakade, MHADA CEO Rajendra Nimbalkar, developer Shrikant Unecha, and Lokmanya Nagar Society representatives Shrikant Kakade and Anantrao Joshi

Residents of Lokmanya Nagar are welcoming the redevelopment as they will get additional space in the bargain. The residential housing colony is slated to get additional FSI as MHADA has unveiled a redevelopment plan for it. The residents will get more space free of cost because of the additional 2.5 FSI.

Two societies game
So far, MHADA has been approached by two societies in Lokmanya Nagar. The 50-year-old Lokmanya Nagar will wear a different look in the next few years if all 55 buildings in the colony become 10-storey affairs.  There are also those who do not like the idea of redevelopment. Some old residents are not willing to accept redevelopment as they claim high rises will add to vehicular traffic and kill open spaces.

In 1961, the Panshet dam developed cracks on July 12. The flood that resulted caused 750 houses in the city to collapse, while 1,650 houses sustained major damages. About 10,000 families were rendered homeless.  After the flood, 250 families from the old city near Mutha River were gradually rehabilitated in Lokmanya Nagar, built by the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA).


The 50-year-old Lokmanya Nagar Housing Colony set up after the 1961 deluge caused by the Panshet dam burst to rehabilitate the flood-affected families

“MHADA’s Lokmanya Nagar scheme is the first of its kind in Pune and has proved to be most successful,” MHADA chief executive officer Rajendra Nimbalkar said. “We constructed 55 buildings for low- and middle-income groups. We are getting encouraging response from Lokmanya Nagar as residents are convinced about getting 2.5 FSI.

Two societies in Lokmanya Nagar are ready with their proposal. The official contract with one society is ready and a private builder will develop the buildings. MHADA is playing the role of facilitator for the 2.5 FSI in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. This decision was taken by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on June 24, 2011.” Anantrao Joshi, president, Lokmanya Nagar Flat Holders Association, said, “Chief Minister Chavan had issued a Government Resolution (GR) subsequently to make the decision of 2.5 FSI for MHADA houses official.” Joshi’s housing society in Lokmanya Nagar is the first to get the MHADA's 2.5 FSI benefit.


A rare photograph of the flood in the city on July 12, 1961

“We are for the redevelopment of our society and all the 18 flat holders in our society have agreed to the new development by getting additional FSI of total 700 square feet without spending a single paisa,” Joshi said. Shrikant Kakade, from Building Number 32 in Lokmanya Nagar, said, “We are the second one of MHADA’s 2.5 FSI beneficiary and are short-listing the tenders invited for developing the area.”

Shrikant Unecha, partner, Nutan Developers, is developing the Swami Housing Society in Lokmanya Nagar. “First we had applied for getting NOC from MHADA,” Unecha said. “Secondly, our building plan will be sent to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for sanction. Actual construction work may start by the end of this year.” Additional City Engineer, PMC, Vivek Kharwadkar, said, “Providing water supply line, sewerage and other facilities is not a big issue as the required infrastructure is already there in the old city. Plans coming for MHADA scheme will be approved on the basis of legal and PMC’s prescribed norms.”

Some like it not
Gopal Kulkarni, a resident of Lokmanya Nagar who is opposed to the redevelopment, said, “I don’t want any high rise building because it might increase problems, like less ventilation and natural light in the flat.: Subhash Thorat, another resident, said, “High rise buildings may increase population and create many problems which do not exist at this moment. For example, noise levels and air pollution may go up due to the bigger quantum of vehicular traffic and population.” 

Need for a comprehensive plan stressed
Sadhana Naik, a former deputy town planner, Pune, said, “Comprehensive planning of Lokmanya Nagar should be the first priority for MHADA as the area may have a three-fold population in future. The comprehensive plan should incorporate requirement of drinking water, ability to tackle the increase in sewage quantum and treatment facility for it, open space for children to play and road infrastructure. MHADA can get help from experts in Pune and students from architectural and engineering colleges.”

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