12 Feb Biodiversity Parks in Pune’s fringe DP and the 8% TDR
Last week, The Chief Minister of Maharashtra, signed on the proposal to keep intact the Biodiversity Park (BDP) reservation on the hill tops and hill slopes in the New DP for Pune’s fringe areas. While, acknowledging the fact that there are many small time landowners in these areas, a 8% Transferable Development Rights (TDR) is being granted as a relief from the hardship faced by these landowners. The two questions that really remain unanswered are the following:
1. What if a large Builder was holding a land area in BDP? Would he also get a 8% TDR?
2. Would a 8% TDR be sufficient for a small landowner to buy a house which he would have built on his land?
Again we have to note that the price of a TDR is dependent on market demand and supply conditions. If a large TDR suddenly becomes available, it may mean that the price of TDR goes down, thereby the landowners lose the value of the land commodity. Further, it is anticipated that Developers who have invested in land on hill tops and hill slopes would end up distorting the TDR market.
Time and again, I have spoken about the fallacy of a ‘blanket rule’. In a country like ours, where diversity is the game changer, why do we insist on making rules that are applicable to everyone? Why do we remain in the area of Generics, where enforcement can only be guaranteed with Specifics? Principally, yes, the policies need to target a single objective, but for enforcement, can’t we really look at a variety of enforcement options rather than make everyone fall in place for a single intractable rule?
In case of the private land under the BDP, I think that principally, all of us agree that hills need to be saved. I have also maintained, quite strongly, that Private Property, ensures that we don’t end up re-enacting the ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ (Read More on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons).
Worldwide, it is a well known fact, that lands under common ownership or Public Ownership tend to be misused and environmental degradation is most commonly and severely found on public lands. On the other hand, private property is cherished, enhanced for the simple reason that there is Ownership and there are direct economic benefits!
So, if the principle is to ensure that Hills are conserved, preserved and enhanced, controlling and regulating private property would be the best enforcement option. Displacing people for the sake of environment will always tend to result into unwanted consequences and finally even destruction of the environment.
Whenever I promote the concept of private property, I am always confronted with an argument that most large land holdings under BDP are by Developers who will end up making large housing developments, wide roads and thus result in destruction of hills. I completely acknowledge this aspect and know that there is a serious threat of this happening. However, even now, with a 8% TDR, we are unsure if the major beneficiaries are the Developers, small plot land owners, both or none! Will this really end up in conserving our hills?
Hence, I continue my beginning argument that lets not make blanket rules! Lets differentiate between small plot owners versus speculative businessman when we enforce rules. Small plot owners with their 8% homes and maintained gardens will enhance the value of the hill slopes. Un-buildable slopes and hill tops will also be maintained by these property owners who stand to benefit from keeping the surroundings clean, green and free from slums. Its a direct economic benefit to the land owners, after all.
There are many tools and these can be explored, only if, our government wakes up to the idea of single policy-differential enforcement! Mechanisms like arbitration, case-by-case resolution need to be employed to be able to enforce a basket of rules. After all, when we are all so different in every other sense of life, shouldn’t enforcement also follow a similar path and address the concerns, aspects and variety of this diversity?