After the Government Notification issued on October 21, 2012 by the Urban Development Department, headed by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, for merging of 28 fringe villages into Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits, MiD DAY kicks off a five-part series to follow closely on the reactions and issues surfacing as a result of the decision. As per the notification, residents of these villages can make suggestions and also raise objections till the end of November.
A MiD DAY survey revealed that over 50 per cent of the sarpanches of these villages and the respective executive members of local bodies are against the merger, while the remaining welcome the decision. The objective of this exercise is to bring to the fore the current scenario of these villages in way of development, amenities and infrastructure before the merger happens, and also what these villages expect to gain from the move.
The merger of Bavdhan Khurd near Chandni Chowk area on Paud Road into the PMC limits seems to be welcomed by some, while others are not in favour of the plan. While newly elected woman sarpanch Neelesha Dudhale is not for the merger, former woman sarpanch Vaishali Kamble is in favour of its inclusion, as according to her, it will guarantee basic civic amenities including water supply, proper road infrastructure among other much-needed development. The former sarpanch also believes that it will put a stop to illegal constructions once the civic body gets charge of the village.
“We had passed the resolution to get our village merged into PMC limits in February 2012. We do not have wide-enough roads for fire brigade trucks to get to many spots when the need arises. The village requires around 1.5 lakh litres of drinking water per day and we purchase water from the PMC each month at the cost of around Rs 4 lakh. We had constructed a water tank with capacity of 6 lakh litres on a hill, and use the stored water judiciously. Once the merger happens, then the cost will reduce drastically,” Kamble said.
She also feels that the merger will certainly ensure the village flourishes, as frequent mass transport services will then be possible. “Rampant construction of illegal buildings and structures by builders in the village will be checked. At present, the grampanchayat is unable to put an end to these illegal activities,” Kamble said. Dudhale was elected sarpanch on October 24, and she believes that the merger will only bring about more of a drawback than progress.
“We had seen how the PMC has ignored Bavdhan Khurd, our twin village, which was included the corporation limits. The village does not even have public toilets or a crematorium. The people have elected us, and the merger will only hamper development of the village. We don’t need anything from the PMC because we are self-sufficient and have managed road development, education and waste management.”
Meanwhile, Kiran Dagade, deputy sarpanch, was not in favour with the plan, as he believed that agriculture would suffer. “We had met Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Rural Development Minister Harshavardhan Patil asking to be excluded from the list of 28 villages that are to be merged. The farmers in our village are worried that farmlands will be reduced after town-planning reservations comes into existence. We will move the court if our demands are ignored,” Dagade said.
More against, than forResidents of Mahalunge and Sus, two villages in Mulshi taluka, are also not in favour of the merger. Amol Chandere, sarpanch from Sus and Malan Padale, woman sarpanch from Mahalunge village, have strongly criticised the government for taking the decision. Chandere said, “The government notification was issued without informing us early enough so that the grampanchayat elections could have been prevented. Merging into Pune will put an end to our identity and we are fighting for our own people’s rights. Officially, we are opposing the decision by conducting gramsabha (village meeting).”
Padale said that the decision was taken too early and that the government should have given them time to think it over. “We had taken charge as sarpanches three months ago and need to keep the promises we made to the villagers. I don’t mind if the decision for merger is taken after three years. We don’t want villagers to pay exorbitant taxes to the PMC, as compared to what they pay presently.”
Population: 21.000 plus
Area: 597.98 hectares
New housing societies: 20
Land cost: Rs 7 to 8 lakh per guntha
Construction cost: Rs 3,500 to 4,000 per sft
Population: 12,000 plus
Area: 476.34 hectares
New Housing Societies: 19
Land cost: Rs 14 lakh per guntha
Construction cost: Rs 3,000 per sft
Area: 436.78 hectares
New housing societies: 9
Land cost: Rs 10 to 12 lakh
Construction cost: 2,500 to 2,800 per sft