How Our Pavements Are Stolen
Delhi has over three million people who use the Delhi Metro every day and many more who use a combination of Indian Railway trains and a variety of buses. Mumbai has about seven and a half million people who use the local trains and many more who use buses. Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Chandigarh, Lucknow and other cities have their train and bus passengers too.
 
Across India, commuters and people who use public transport share one common experience—somebody has stolen their pavements! At first, it was just a few feet of the pavement with mats strewn across; now you can see full-on wonders of civil construction on not just pavements but also pedestrian overbridges and underpasses and even in the verge dividing roads. At many places, the road itself has been usurped, and pedestrians as well as all sorts of motor vehicles vie for the same space. I have even seen a sturdy wall with multiple commercial platforms cantilevered on both sides of the wall. The wall was initially built to prevent people from building shops on the pavement it cordoned off.
 
If people whose pavements have been stolen were a single constituency, they would simply be the largest constituency in India. However, since pedestrians in India come from a class which is always in a hurry to go somewhere or return from somewhere, they simply do not get together as a major motive force. And there is absolutely no civic body, elected or selected representative, or regulatory body, which is in charge of pedestrians. There is no, for example, "National Pedestrian Authority of India" or equivalent.
 
 
Pedestrians are on their own, literally and figuratively, and if they die—they don't even become a statistic. Because, and this is the reality—they usually die on roads. So then, they become part of deaths by automobile.  
And then we get to where pavements have become parking lots, generating a separate economy, leading to the question: Why road tax? Nobody can answer this question.
 
Special 'clearance' drives are undertaken now and then, long articles appear in the media quoting our elected and selected representatives, debates for and against becomes very emotive. Automobile manufacturers wonder why sales are down - but are unable to find parking space within their own showrooms for new cars and bikes, which, in turn, occupy more pavement space.
 
 
There is no other country of comparable circumstances to India where stealing pavements is such an ongoing art form. Large corporate houses have also got into the game—inspect the bar coded slips being handed out for 'parking charges' and you will spot some of our best and oldest corporates taking part in the game of pavement grabbing.
 
So how does this actually work? 
 
First big elephant in the room—the actual onsite pavement grabbing, and the bottom of the pyramid guys who actually are visible, such as hawkers, goons, attendants, or similar—are simply not the reason for, and key stakeholders of the pavement stealing game.
 
The second big elephant in the country—pavement grabbing is among the biggest local industries for a wide variety of sarkari sansthas and their cohorts. In many jurisdictions, the pavement grabbing industry is the most lucrative industry going, because it also includes the narcotics, flesh, gambling and all other really illegal industries.
 
Let me try to give the example of a typical pavement in a typical Municipal Corporation of Delhi area.
 
A pavement is usually grabbed and stolen under the kind supervision of the very same authorities who are supposed to ensure it is in good shape and is used by pedestrians. Try to set up a small stall selling anything and see the 'settings' that come into play. There is usually a master controller goon who collects on behalf of all the authorities involved and typically will have his, or often her site, office very close to an ATM and cash deposit machine. Liquidity is all important and so is transfer of funds.
 
A typical pavement grab will have optimal utilisation 100% of the time, 24x7. Starting from early morning, when the rag-pickers have the first rights pre-dawn, then the cleaning crew who are usually in a hurry to finish before the day's commerce begins, to late evening when the denizens of the night ply their oldest trade. Holidays can see temporary 'haats' and if there is a booze shop nearby, then the kababs become famous, even if the stray dogs and cats start to vanish.
 
If a concerned citizen tries to file an online complaint to the government of the national capital territory of Delhi about a pavement that has been stolen, using the public grievances portal, it will get bounced around to a variety of authorities including but not limited to the Delhi government, Central Public Works Department, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Jal Board, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and sometimes even the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. I may have missed out sanitation department, anti-malaria, education and others, for which I am truly sorry. Eventually, an answer will reach the person who made the grievance with the explanation that the pavement in question is and was not in their jurisdiction.
 
How can the pavement be in anybody's jurisdiction? It has already been stolen.
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COMMENTS

Aditya G

6 days ago

I beg to differ.

I understand that pavements have been abused one way or other -- by people, cars, stalls, even animals (hey, buffalo, we made that pavement for you!).

If one looks around properly, I don't know about other cities, in Chennai, we have BIG pavements which aren't used at all. Some pavements are broken. Some have live eletric wire bang in the middle. I could go on. And in most cases, at least in Chennai, pedestrians walk on the road instead ("hello, there's a big piece of real estate next to you! The road is for cars...not for getting maimed down!!). It's super irritating an super annoying. I don't blame them, because our pavements are just pathetic and doesn't serve their purpose.

Also, I learnt that the cost of constructing a pavement, on a per square feet basis, is more expensive than tarmac and concrete road. It's crazy expensive to maintain it too, because it laid with ceramic and tiles, not some sturdier and stronger material.

I think it's time to do away with the notion of pavements being an integral part of a city and think of other alternatives. As it is, India is overcrowded with little real estate. Cities need to be planned (and redone) for the future, because I'm not sure I see one with people walking around in this kind of pollution and filth, with potholes even on pavements.

Just my two cents.

Meenal Mamdani

6 days ago

So true.
I don't know about the various scenarios described above but they sound plausible.

In South Mumbai, cars are parked on the pavement by the apartment dwellers whose apartment is often adjacent to the pavement. Surely those who can afford to live in these apartments that cost crores and can also afford to own a car, can pay for parking in a parking garage? When asked the apartment owners say that they are helpless as there is no paid parking available within reasonable distance.

THIS IS THE REAL PROBLEM IN SOUTH MUMBAI. NO PAID PARKING AVAILABLE FOR CITIZENS WHO HAVE CARS OR THOSE WHO ARE VISITING SOUTH MUMBAI.

In the last couple of years, BMC has insisted that any multistory building must have parking for each apartment built in the lower part of the multistory tower.

But what about all the others? Why can't the BMC build a multistory parking garage and charge for parking? Some say that Bombaywalas have got used to parking for free on the street and they will never use these structures. Well, let the offending cars be fined heavily or towed away for parking illegally and we will soon have the parking garages full and BMC will get a lucrative revenue stream and pedestrians will get their pavements back.

Moneylife Impact: Model Guidelines for Retirement Homes Announced by Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs
In line with his assurance on 9th February, at Moneylife Foundation's 9th Anniversary programme, Hardeep Singh Puri, Union minister of state for housing and urban affairs (independent charge), released 'Model Guidelines for Development and Regulation of Retirement Homes' on Wednesday. 
 
"The model guideline envisages to promote quality of life for the elderly people of the country and ensures protection of their rights. I am sure that implementation of this guideline by all the stakeholders will address core issues of the senior most section of the society," Mr Puri said while releasing the model guidelines for retirement homes. 
 
 
The model guidelines from ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA) would enable states and union territories (UTs) to establish transparency and accountability with customised redressal of issues pertaining to exclusive housing projects for senior citizens like retirement homes. 
 
"It will enable an appropriate regulatory environment where the rights of senior citizens are protected and their special needs are addressed. It will bring investment in this special category of real estate, where demand is expected to grow steadily throughout the 21st century," Mr Puri says.
 
The model guidelines specifies 'basic rights of resident of retirement home' and also prescribe the model tripartite agreement. It also suggested standards and norms for building design, green building principles, lifts and staircases, corridors, services standards and living environment to be provided to senior citizens in retirement homes along with the basic amenities; medical and fitness, safety and security.
 
According to the minister, the objective of these model guidelines is to guide state and Union Territories (UTs) and urban local bodies (ULBs) towards promoting quality of life for the senior citizens through setting up norms and standards to be followed by the retirement homes operators, service-providers and developers in respect of retirement home projects.
 
The ministry had appointed a committee to examine the needs of senior citizens and other related apparatus that deals with this subject. The committee referred to a report on retirement homes prepared and submitted by Moneylife Foundation.
 
A report from Moneylife Foundation prepared for HDFC  had highlighted the need to cater to the regulation of retirement homes in India. The study focuses on the experiences of residents of retirement homes in the cities of Coimbatore, Pune and Bengaluru that lead the development of retirement homes in their States. 
 
A key finding of the Moneylife Foundation study was that "close to 65% of the respondents, who were interviewed had not signed a contractual agreement that defines the terms of service, close to 90% of them had not anticipated any increases in maintenance charges over time and over 70% said that there was no residents council that would give them some say in the running of the homes".
 
 
The study further observes that in the absence of specific regulations to govern retirement homes, the residents are vulnerable to various forms of exploitation and mistreatment and their only recourse is to file a civil case, which is cumbersome. Most grievances of the residents of the retirement homes are related to poor delivery of services, despite collection of high maintenance charges. These grievances primarily arise because of lack of transparency and accountability on the part of promoter, developer and service provider with regard to their financial transactions and promised service and facilities, the report pointed out.
 
In a statement, the ministry says, "As brought out in the said Report, the problems of the residents of the retirement homes pertain to the contractual relationship. Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act, 2016 (RERA) provides for a framework for regulating all real estate projects. In addition to this MoHUA also has the mandated to prepare policies, standards and good practices for real estate sector including housing, urban infrastructure and services." 
 
"MoHUA works in collaboration with state governments, as matters relating to 'land and colonization' are constitutionally mandated to the states and UTs. Recognising its role and responsibility with regard to the regulation of real estate in particular and urban development and housing in general, MoHUA has drafted a set of model guidelines, which can be implemented by the state governments and union territories to regulate the retirement homes in order to ensure independent and dignified life after retirement," it added.

 
The population of senior citizens is expected to grow to 173 million by 2025—more than double in a little over one decade—and will further increase to about 240 million by 2050. The population share of senior citizens will increase to 19% in 2050 from 8% in 2015 and it is expected that by the end of the century, senior citizens will constitute nearly 34% of the total population of the country.
 
The Model Guidelines States that:
  • Retirement homes should be aligned with the principles, guidelines, norms, etc., as prescribed in 'national building code' (nbc), 'model building bye laws' and 'harmonised guidelines and space standards for barrier free built environment for persons with disability and elderly persons'.
  • Elderly friendly built environment like lifts with audio and visual signage and signalling systems, wheelchair accessibility, mandatory ramps, design of spaces to enable barrier free movement, anti-skid tiles in bathrooms and stairs, elderly friendly design of door-knobs, hand rails, and furniture, kitchens with gas leak detection systems, power back-up facilities in corridors, lobby, lifts and apartments.
  • Compliance with green building principles as provided in model building bye laws and use of non-polluting and renewable energy.
  • Provision of common basic services like 24X7 water and electricity supply, maintenance of proper hygiene, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, security and housekeeping, single window facilities and helpdesk, transportation assistance, yoga and fitness facilities, and care giving facilities.
  • Provision of basic medical, safety and security services like 24x7 on-site ambulance service, mandatory tie-up with emergency facilities with the nearest hospitals and pharmacy, medical emergency room, regular medical check-up of residents, emergency alarm systems, trained and skilled security personnel, CCTV cameras in common areas, prior police verification of all the personnel deployed in the retirement homes.
  • Customised services over and above the basic common services like internal and external housekeeping, managing dining services, and assistance with legal services, if required by the residents has also been prescribed.
Transparency in Fund Utilisation
  • Provision of a twofold mechanism in the form of refundable interest-free maintenance security deposit (IFMS) and maintenance charges. IFMS to be paid by the allottee which is refundable within a maximum period of three months from the date of refund application. Maintenance charges to be paid by the resident on lump-sum or monthly/ quarterly/ yearly instalments on mutually agreed terms.
 
Regulation of Retirement Homes
  • Retirement home apartments can only be sold after registration under the respective Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) of the states/UTs. To protect the rights of the residents a list of 'basic rights of the allottee/resident of a retirement home' has been stipulated.
  • The model guidelines provide for disclosure of technical skill of the service-provider at the time of executing the 'agreement to sale' in the form of a 'tri-partite agreement' to be executed among the developer, service provider /retirement home operators and allottee.
  • To ensure implementation of the guidelines, a task force for constant dialogue with states/UTs and other stakeholders will be set by ministry of housing and urban affairs (MoHUA).
  • Setting up of appropriate monitoring committees by the state/ut authorities for timely implementation of all applicable laws, regulations, rules and guidelines governing the retirement homes, under the supervision of MoHUA.
  • The model guidelines will encourage inclusive growth wherein states/UTs are required to review and align their policies and regulations and institutionalise appropriate mechanisms on retirement homes.
  • The model guidelines will enable all states/UTs to align their policies and regulations in line with these Model Guidelines to ensure the protection of rights of the senior citizens and promote a dignified life after retirement.  The implementation of these guidelines will boost investment in the retirement home segment, contribute in employment generation in service sector industries associated with retirement homes.
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COMMENTS

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

2 weeks ago

Let this old age home project come to reality in its plan, before Lok Sabha Election code of conduct is announced.

Peruvemba Subramanian Ramachandran

2 weeks ago

Thanks very much Suchetaji and your team or your untiring efforts on behalf of all the seniors from Nana Nani.

As I write this, the TN Govt has not even implemented the GO 83 of 2016 and has been forced by the Madras High Court in Contempt Petitions to visit Sr Citizen Homes in Coimbatore where rampant fundamental violations are taking place and to report by 19th March 19.
Yet they are instead of being on the side of seniors, are trying to white wash the HC directions without forcing the service providers to comply with the GO.

Harish Kohli

2 weeks ago

Mr. Puri is, unlike most of his breed, a committed minister and it's good that Moneylife is supporting him in the absolute need to make things better for the Senior citizens. Having experienced the caring for my mother (late 80s) and mother in law (mid 90s), I can say that both are stressed. The parents from guilt for putting the children through the troubles, the children for the guilt of not able to do enough. I am very clear that we both will go to a retirement home and this creates arguments with the children. Well this bond in the family is a part of Indian culture.
Having taken this subject to it's heart, I do hope Moneylife will continue to pursue this field as it does on investments. Even if you have to charge, do keep readers informed about the changes and good homes coming up. It will be a yeoman service
You have Lion, Panther, Antelope. We could think of a name for this service.
And at the cost of being immodest, I pat my back and say I am a good son and a good son-in-law.

REPLY

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Harish Kohli 2 weeks ago

Thank you Mr Kohli for your support, as always. You may like to see our detailed report, which is on the foundation website -- it is the first report on this link : http://foundation.moneylife.in/memorandums/#

Leonora Machado

In Reply to Harish Kohli 2 weeks ago

GOD BLESS

Needed: Election Manifesto for the 80 million Disabled Citizens
Indians with disability have been ignored for too long.
 
We as a community of 80 million people demand that each of the parties standing for the forthcoming elections must mention in measurable terms, with specific timelines, what exactly they will do for the people with disabilities.
 
Taxes of all types are being imposed on us but they do not translate into a better quality of life. Government offices, schools, colleges, hospitals and public places do not provide disabled-friendly access. Almost each state doles out a paltry sum in the name of monthly pensions.
 
Do the ministers and officials holding high posts even know anything about disability and the struggle we and our family members and care givers go through to survive in our country? 
 
Rehabilitation of the disabled is as good as non-existent. 
 
I remember in 1997, two years after my paragliding accident and permanent, incurable spinal cord injury, I developed a pressure sore in my right ankle. I could not put on my socks or callipers and was home bound for four months as healing of a spinal cord injury is a slow process and the wound has to be exposed to air. Feeling intensely patriotic, I readily agreed  when my friend Satish Kulkarni, assisted by his nephew, offered to carry me down the first floor flight of stairs so that I could visit the polling station in a school nearby. Imagine, with no sensation in my feet, a huge risk in itself, braving the stones, pebbles, dust and the hot footpath, I was carried down and driven in his car and walked barefoot to cast my vote. I felt very proud that I went that extra mile, risking my health to go for voting. 
 
Since then, each year, ramp or no ramp, I have, with great hope always exercised my franchise, thanks to my supportive family. 
 
As an Indian with a physical disability I have been carried up and down the stairs in the past 23 years in a shamefully undignified manner almost everywhere. Because I wanted to move on with my life, experiencing as full a life as possible!
 
Sadly, for all my patriotism, the taxes that I pay regularly as an honest citizen and the pride of being an Indian, I have not seen much visible change over the years.
 
For any little change that there has been for the disabled in and around me, it has been solely due to my own explanation, brainpower, time, resources and effort. . 
 
People call us inspiring and motivational, unaware that we and our families have to work twice as hard to exist and survive. Despite the optimistic outlook, disillusionment has set in. Actually no one cares about us.
 
The people in the government entrusted to make our lives easier by providing us with the basic minimum infrastructure, technology and positive attitudes, seem to be busy with other pressing matters. Forever. Always.
 
Enough is enough. We have been taken for a ride for too long. We are now exhausted in this long journey. 
 
When one can make elections accessible by harnessing resources in such a short period pan India then show us a real positive change NOW. 
 
I would propose that each constituency make their government buildings, schools, colleges, hospitals, public transport, washrooms and sports facilities disabled friendly before the elections. Prove to us that each of the political parties truly acknowledges and cares for our existence.
 
Each party’s manifesto must mention 10 measurable points with finite timelines by a specific task force that they will execute in finite days, months. 
 
Each party and the individual standing for elections must mention a mobile number, email id and website where grievances by Indians with disability can be sent before the elections so that we can check the veracity of your trust. All pending petitions, appeals concerning the disabled must be cleared before these elections. 
 
You want our vote.
We want our dignity. 
 
(Dr Ketna L Mehta is Founder Trustee of Nina Foundation that serves in the rehabilitation of economically and socially disadvantaged friends with spinal cord injuries. She is also Editor of ‘One World’.  Email- [email protected], www.ninafoundation.org)
 
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COMMENTS

Shirish Sadanand Shanbhag

2 weeks ago

Thank you, Dr. Ketana ji, for your incessant efforts to help spinal cord injury disabled persons.

I request you to keep in touch with all the hospitals, Government and Private, who treat patients for spinal cord injured patients, to get them rehabilitation from you.

Mahesh S Bhatt

1 month ago

Virali Modi brave Indian girl wanted Indian Railways platforms to be disabled friendly in right spirits but Bibek Roy has opened up new corruptions doors like BMC Roads after 200 years potholed and created broken tiles on Dadar / Bandra/Thane stations for more commuters to be having twisted foot/broken anklesWe need bridges when 22 die in Parel 2 bridges come up in 6 months Thanks to Army & corrupt IR Managers who create and upload foot bridge tender hours before the tradegy IT corrected by morraly shameless reality No convictions Rs 5lac compensation Mahesh Bhatt

Sunil shenava

1 month ago

At least someone cares...

Madhu K R V

1 month ago

Thank you Dr Ketna L Mehta , yes we need above state things and change in politician and people and the Civil engineers attitude towards future constructions and modification to the existing one.

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