PUNE: The illegal building chaos is not limited to Pune's fringe villages alone. Like algae spreading on stagnating water, many buildings without permissions have come up in rural parts that border the 34 villages awaiting their merger with the Pune Municipal Corporation.
While the merger of the 34 fringe villages could still be in the pipeline, the topography of villages beyond them has already undergone a change. There is haphazard construction activity even in these areas that hope to benefit once their neighbourhood becomes part of the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Two factors are fuelling the realty growth in these villages: One, villages on the merger plan are already choc-a-bloc with buildings, many of them illegal, and the demand for flats is still soaring. Two, investors are picking up properties in these villages.
Take for instance, Nande village, which is not on the merger plan but is a few kilometers from Sus that will be merged with the civic limits.
"Our apartment is already booked. I have just three flats vacant. Most people who have invested here are IT professionals from Pune city. Also, there are some from Kolhapur who have bought property here as an investment," said a builder here, adding his construction was legal and had all the required permissions. The serene surroundings are a big draw, and rates have already gone up from Rs 2,000 per sq ft to up to Rs 3,400 per sq ft.
The construction boom has ensured these villages would have the same unplanned, chaotic future as is being seen in Pune's fringe villages now, more so because the recommendations of the Regional Plan (RP) have been completely overlooked. The road leading to Shirwal from Satara is dotted by 'affordable housing' projects. "Most of these constructions are coming up on agricultural land and that too without any permission from the collector. Nobody bothers for permissions. There are hundreds of small and big constructions that have come in surrounding villages and nobody has bothered to check," says Shantaram Patil from Shirwal village.
Realty growth in these villages is fuelled by investors, and not those seeking affordable housing. Kedar, a cab driver, said he was looking for a one-room kitchen on the city's fringes, but couldn't find one.
"My agent told me that I could get a one-room kitchen flat on Jejuri road. But it is too far from city and I have to attend my duty early morning. I currently live with my friends in a shared room in Nana Peth. But I am planning to get married and then move to Patil-Estate slum in the city. I am now talking to agents in slum pockets," he said gloomily.
Rekha, a housemaid from Kondhwa Budruk, said, "Once you move away from the city, commuting becomes a major problem. So even if I am getting proper accommodation in villages, which are about 50-60 km away from Pune, I prefer to stay in slums."
Illegal constructions are clearly not the problem of Pune and Pimiri Chinchwad civic bodies alone, but also that of rural Pune. The population of Pune district is 94,26,959, of which 60% is urban.
Town planners blamed government apathy in implementing the Regional Plan (RP) for the haphazard constructions in rural Pune. The plan had recommended new towns at a distance of 80 to 100 km from Pune between Baramati and Kurkumbh industrial areas with a five to seven lakh population.
The regional plan emphasised on controlling development in fringe areas of PMC and PCMC comprising 53 villages, identified as 'influence villages' that were set to witness rapid growth.
However, the plan has remained on paper.