Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Service tax on free area given to members of society in redevelopment project

In Mumbai, many building are becoming older than 35 to 40 years and such building require redevelopment. Also due to shortage of land, rising population innovative concept of redevelopment of old properties has brought in Mumbai. In such redevelopment, society appoints developer and developer construct new flats with modern amenities. Members of society gets newly constructed flat free of cost and also get rent allowances, corpus and other allowances. Accordingly such redevelopment transaction is barter transaction between society/ members and developer.

Prior to 1st July, 2012, The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC), vide their circular has clarified that re-construction undertaken by a building society by directly engaging a builder/developer will not be chargeable to Service tax as it is meant for the personal use of the society/its members.

However, from 1st July, 2012, In new service tax legislation, if any activity carried out by a person for another for consideration and includes a declared service but not falling in negative list of service then such activity would be liable for service tax. In case of redevelopment, developer provides service of construction of flat and developer receives right for construction of additional saleable area which developer can sale to third party. In such case, such reconstruction activity provided by developer to society members would fulfill criteria of definition of service. Hence, such construction service provided by developer to society members and members receives free of cost area would be liable for service tax.

The Maharashtra Chamber of Housing Industry (MCHI) has sought clarification from the Service Tax Commissioner, Mumbai-I on the issue whether Builders/Developers are liable to Service tax in respect of rehab flats/units allotted to society members in redevelopment project. The Commissioner, vide his letter F.No.V/ST-I/Tech-II/463/11 dated 31-08-2012, clarified that Service tax is leviable on construction of such rehab flats/units/ free of cost area received by members.

In such case, developers have to pay service tax @ 4.944% on execution of development agreement with society for redevelopment of building. The value of development rights which is consideration received in kind by builder for construction of flats to members should be taken at stamp duty valuation. Such value would be liable to service tax @ 4.944% of value of development rights.

Delhi is more dense and safe to live then New York: Report

India’s capital Delhi is one of the most prominent city to live, earn and spend less on public transport and feel safer, states a research report prepared by London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society. Delhi has scored better over cities such as New York and London and other major cities in their study.

Delhi has high average density of built up area, nearly twice the levels of wider New York metro area despite the Indian capital’s relatively low-rise urban landscape, a research report prepared by London School of Economics has said.

Comparing Delhi’s urban dynamics to the eight other Urban Age cities – London, Bogota, Lagos, Tokyo, New York, Istanbul and Berlin- highlights that despite the capital’s relatively low-rise urban landscape, it has an extremely high average density of built up area of 19,698 people per square kilometre.

“This is nearly twice the levels for wider New York metro area (which at 11,531 people/sq km includes high-rise Manhattan), the research report which was released today said.

The report also said Delhi scores well in having a very low level of violent crime measured by the murder rate (homicides per 100,000 people), than New York and Istanbul.

The research has been carried out in preparation of the two-day conference on Urban Age ‘Governing Urban Futures’ which started here today.

The conference is being organised by ‘LSE Cities’ at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society in partnership with the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA).

Speaking on the occasion, Deutsche Bank AG Co-Chief Executive Anshu Jain said, “Today, cities account for 2 per cent of the world’s landmass but produce 80 per of global wealth. Over the next 30 years, one third of the world’s economic growth will be generated in the top 100 cities.

Quoting the McKinney Global Institute report, Jain said, “India needs to build the equivalent of a new Chicago every year for the next few decades to sustain its growth.”

“That’s why the Indian government’s ’100 Smart Cities’ initiative is so important,” he added

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.What is reverse mortgage?

                                  What is reverse mortgage?


When you buy a house through a home loan, every EMI you pay towards servicing the loan increases your equity in the house. Once you payoff the loan in full, your equity in the house is 100 per cent. In reverse mortgage, exactly the opposite happens. When you pledge your house for reverse mortgage with a lending institution, your equity in your own house decreases with every disbursal that the lending institution makes to you.

Q.2 Which institutions offer reverse mortgage as a product in India?
Reverse mortgage as a product is fairly new to India. Dewan Housing Finance was the first institution in the country to come up with its reverse mortgage product-Saksham. Since then, most leading lending institutions have come up with their own reverse mortgage products.

Some of these are State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Central Bank of India, Union Bank of India, LlC Housing Finance, Indian Bank, Andhra Bank, Corporation Bank and Canara Bank.

Q.3 What is the eligibility criteria for reverse mortgage?
First, Second you need to have 100 per cent equity in your should be more than 60 years of age. If your wife is a co-applicant, she should be above 58.

Q.4 How do I apply for reverse mortgage?
Once you decide to pledge your house for reverse gage, you should ideally go to the branch of the bank with which you have a banking relationship and fill up the necessary form–provided the bank offers reverse mortgage. If your bank does not offer reverse mortgage, then approach the nearest branch of a bank that does, and fill up the form. You will need to furnish your personal and financial details: details about The property, your legal heirs, and so on. To authenticate that you own that the property, you will also need to furnish property papers and a proof that the house that you are pledging is your residence.

Q.5 How does the lending institution arrive at the amount that would be disbursed under the reverse mortgage product?
The qualifying amount of loan will depend on the realisable value of your property after maintaining a margin. This margin covers the rate of interest on the loan and any possible fluctuations in the value of the property pledged for reverse mortgage. The value of the property is evaluated every 3-5 years, depending on the lender, and this will affect the amount of funds being released to you as per the payment plan you choose.

Q.6 What are the payment options that lending institutions provide under reverse mortgage?
The money can be credited into your savings bank account or in a joint account-with the either or survivor option-in the same bank either on a monthly or quarterly basis, or as a one-time lump sum payment.

Q.7 What is the rate of interest on the amount that the bank sanctions under reverse mortgage?
The rate of interest on the reverse mortgage loan typically varies between 10 per cent and 12 per cent. However, you will not be required to pay this interest. Once you vacate the premises permanently, or in the event of your death, the lending institution will give the first option to the legal heirs of the property to settle the loan. If they are unable to settle the loan, the lending institution will sell the property and, from its proceeds take its share-principal, i.e., the total amount disbursed as loan and the interest on it-and give the to the legal heirs.

Q.8 Is there a processing fee?
Yes, There is a processing fee. This typically varies between 0.15 per cent and 1.50 per cent of the loan amount. In some cases, apart from specifying the percentage of loan amount as processing fee, they also have an upper limit as to how much they can charge as processing fee.

Q.9 What is the maximum payment tenure that a lending institution offers under reverse mortgage?
Most reverse mortgage loan products available have a maximum tenure of 15 years, with a minimum tenure of 10 years. However, RML products of central Bank of India and Bank of Baroda can be extended further, to the advance value of the property. In case of Central Bank of India, the loan can be further extended by another five years. Punjab National Bank is the only institution that offers RML for 20 years.

Q.10 Can I prepay the amount that the lending institution disburses under reverse mortgage? Is there a pre-payment penalty?
Yes, you can prepay the loan along with the interest any time during the loan tenure. Typically, there is no pre-payment penalty.

Q.11 Is the rate of interest on the RML and the value of the house fixed for the entire tenure or are they revised at regular intervals?
Considering that real estate, like any other asset class, passes through cycles and the cost of funds for lending institutions also keep changing, most lending institutions have a reset clause in the their respective RMLs. This is to ensure that at no point during the loan tenure, the loan to value ratio exceeds the maximum unlock able value of the mortgaged property. However, this reset clause varies across institutions. While most lending institutions have a reset clause of five years, Central Bank of India and Dewan Housing Finance have a reset clause of three years.

So, after the scheduled period, both the value of the house as well as the rate of interest will be re-evalued and necessary adjustments will be made in your monthly payments.
Q.12 What if I outlive the tenure? Can I still stay in my house?
In case you outlive your loan tenure, you will continue to live in your house. However, the lending institution may stop the monthly payments to you if the unlock able value of the property has already been exhausted.

Q.13 When will the lending institution take my house?
After your death, or if you have permanently moved out of the property, the bank will first give your legal heirs an option to settle the loan. In case of a joint loan, it will become due for recovery and payable six months after death of the last surviving spouse,

Q.14 How does the lending institution recover the money that it has given me under reverse mortgage?
If your legal heirs cannot settle the reverse mortgage loan, then the property will be sold off and after realising its money (total advances and the accumulated interest), the bank will pass on any surplus to your legal heirs.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Qustion and Answers

                                                     Q and A


1. One of my friend said that there is a concession in Stamp Duty and Registration if gift is made to the family members spouse, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Kindly clarify whether this concession is applicable to “gift of immovable property form brother to sisters and also from sisters to brother”. I would seek your kind clarification at the earliest.

- Y. Shivarudrappa, Bangalore

Concession in Stamp Duty and Registration charges is available to gifts made by family members such as “spouse, sons, daughters, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, Brother and Sister

2. What is procedure to construct a house in agricultural land? My father is having six brothers and they want to divide; we have very small house in the village. It is not possible for the six to stay in the small house. Please help me.

-Ananth Kumar, Bangalore

If your property is falling within the residential zone as per the Zonal Regulations, you have to obtain the residential conversion order from the DC. After obtaining the same you have to get the partition and also obtain sanction plan and license from the concerned authorities.

3. I want to purchase a flat from a Promoter. The Promoter swears that his title to the property is good; encumbered, clear, marketable and has produced a title certificate from his Advocate. Whether can I rely on title certificate?

-Nagendra Prasad, Hoodi Circle

The Promoters Builders obtain title certificate from their Advocate on production of title documents. Generally, Purchasers will rely on such title certificates, which is not correct. As per the Karnataka Apartment Ownership Flats Act 1972, the title certificate should be by an Advocate having minimum seven years standing.

You should have the title verified independently from your own Advocate. Promoter is bound to provide photocopies of related documents, plans; encumbrance certificate. You may independently obtain upto date encumbrance certificates, are verify in Jurisdictional Courts for any pending cases.

Importantly verify, whether the Promoters has the property mortgaged to any Financial Institution, the terms of such mortgage and whether any No Objection Certificate is required.

4. I would like to state that I bought a site in BSK VI Stage. I am desired to know more about the area and the progress that is being taken place. By what time the area will be fully developed to proceed on constructing a house. And what are the documents other than Sale Deed, Khatha, and Tax paid receipt required to avail loan from the Banks? The Encumbrance Certificate to be made if the allotment is made by the BDA directly?

-Rakesh, Bidarahalli

You have not informed how you got the site, whether by allotment from BDA or by direct purchase, Banks require title document, which establishes the Ownership of Borrowers. In case of direct purchase, apart from your Sale Deed, Khatha certificate and tax paid receipts in your name, the title documents and revenue documents of the property establishing the right, title, interest of the person who sold the property to you are required. It is necessary to trace how the Seller acquired the property and its origin atleast for forty years. In case of the property is allotted by BDA, the allotment letter, possession certificate, amount paid receipts are required in addition to Sale Deed, Khatha and tax paid receipts. Encumbrance Certificates is essential for the required period. If you are going for construction, approved plan is also required. Though this column is not for forecasting the future development of any area the area in which your site is situated may develop within a couple of years.

5. I own a flat in Bangalore but staying in Baroda, on account of my job. The flat Owner’s Society for which I am member is charging me for common expenses, though I am not using any common amenities. Can I refuse to pay?

-Maithreyi, Baroda

Every flat Owner is bound to pay his share of common expenses, irrespective of the fact, whether he uses it or not. This is because the flat Owner holds the undivided interest in common areas. You cannot refuse to pay your share of common expenses.

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Monday, 22 August 2016

NHB gets RBI approval for $200 million ECB for Affordable Housing

Reserve Bank of India   has approved the proposalof National Housing Bank for raising $ 200 million external commercial borrowing which will be used for financing affordable housing. The Chairman and Managing Director, NHB, Mr. Verma has said that the housing finance regulator has to mobilise this amount before the current fiscal i.e., before March 2014. After finalisation of the terms the NHB has to once again approach the RBI since the funds are being raised under the approval route.

The chairman has further said that they are in talks with only one foreign lender for raising this amount. NHB’s resource base will be diversified on raising funds through ECB route and will generate confidence among international investors in the Indian housing finance market.

NHB has found a new thrust area in Low-income housing and last year has slashed refinance rates on loans up to Rs.5 lakhs. The Government is also encouraging housing financing companies by allowing them to raise ECB’s for low-cost housing projects. The housing banks and housing finance companies are included as eligible borrowers for financing low-cost projects.

In Maharashtra a District ConsumerForum has held that not executing a sale agreement and handing over possession of a booked flat, inspite of receiving a substantial part of the payment, amounts to deficiency in service on part of the developer. The forum has directed the defaulting developer to pay a compensation of  Rs.50,000. The additional Thane district consumer forum has also ordered the developer to hand over possession of the flat within 45 days, to ex-serviceman Balaji Shinare, in the building constructed by the builder at Kamothe in Navi Mumbai.

The developer had promised the complainant the he would execute a sale deed for the flat, but failed to do so and had tried to register a sale deed for the said property in another person’s name.

The complainant in his complaint had alleged that he had booked the flat in October 2010 by paying booking amount of Rs.3.1lakh, the total cost being Rs.15.49 lakh. He had agreed to pay the balance consideration amount in 12 instalments. Upto April 2011, Shin are had paid Rs.9.2 lakhs and the developer had promised to execute the Sale Deed of the flat in that month itself. The complainant a retired Air Force personnel was ready to pay additional amount of Rs.90,000/- towards stamp duty and registration charge. He had also paid another instalment as demanded by the developer.

The developer allegedly did not execute the sale deed and ignored the repeated requests of the complainant. Shinare went to the sub-registrar’s office at Panvel to find out the status of the flat. He learnt that the developer had registered the sale deed for the flat in some other person’s name.

Aggrieved by this he approached the consumer forum in March 2012. The developer failed to respond to the notice issued by the forum. The forum decided the case on the basis of documentary evidence submitted by the complainant and held the developer guilty of deficiency in service for failing to complete the transaction, hand over the ready flat, despite receiving substantial consideration.

The court also directed the builderto execute a sale deed in favour of the complainant, who will  pay the balance amount while taking possession of the flat. The forum further directed the developer to pay compensation  of Rs.50,000 to Shinare for the mental agony suffered by him.

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Saturday, 20 August 2016

Failure to give possession - Builder ordered to refund flat money with interest

District Consumer Forum in Mumbai has observed that a builder has to pay interest as well when  refunding the money received from a buyer whose flat could not be constructed.  The builder was directed a to pay Rs.2.5 lakhs to a mother –daughter who had booked a flat in lower parel but who never got possession of it.
The forum said “the opponents (construction company) utilized the amount of the complainants for more than three years ,therefore they are liable to pay interest, going by the provisions of the Maharashtra Ownership Of flats Act,”
The complainants’ Shaila and Puja Karambhelkar of Borivli had booked the 560sq-flat to be built by Rupji Constructions for  Rs.23.80 lakhs in November 2005. The builder had collected Rs.6.1 lakhs from the buyers in three years, but there was no construction.
In January 2009, the Karmbhelkars decided to withdraw the booking and sought refund with interest from the builder. The company returned the money it had collected between May 2009 and February 2009. Though the company had promised to pay the interest, it failed to do so despite several reminders from the buyers.
The Karambhelkars lodged a complaint in the CentralDistrict Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in 2011. The company argued that they are not liable to pay interest as the Karambhelkars has cancelled the booking.
The forum held that the company was guilty of unfair trade practice.
 Projects on One Acre Land, 20% reservation for EWS
The Maharashtra Government has notified that in projects on one acre or above land 20% has to be reserved for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) of society. The Maharashtra chapter of CREDAI has welcomed the government resolution and is of the opinion that more clarity is required in this matter.
The state government has come up with an affordable housing policy. Mr. Sanjay Banait, under secretary, urban development department  had issued the notification on November 8. As per this notification every builder having construction on a land area of one acre or above will have to reserve  20% of the flats of the new construction for economically weaker section and low income groups. This modification is applicable to cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nasik and Nagpur i.e., to the cities with population of over 10 lakhs.
This 20% reservation would be inclusive of both the flats and plotting schemes and builders floor space index (FSI) would not be included. The area of this single built flat should compulsorily range between 300-500 sq.ft.  On project completion 20% flats should be handed over to the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) at the prevailing market rate of the construction cost. These flats would be allotted on the basis of special lottery method by the MHADA. It has been made mandatory for the MHADA to take possession of these flats within six months. In case of failure to take possession by the MHADA, then the builders can put the flats on sale but at the rate of MHADA (construction cost).
Mr.Anant Rajegaon, president of Maharashtra chapter of Credai has welcomed the decision of the government for increasing the land limit to one acre, making it applicable to cities with population of 10 lakhs and above. He has further said that exemption of cities with less than 10 lakhs population is a good move as there is little demand for small flats is low and if made applicable in future as proposed, would result in piling up of inventories.
Credai Vice President, Maharashtra has said, has said the move of the government is a good one as it will provide housing facility to the economically weaker sections at a low cost and cut down slums in the city. The difficulty is in its application for plotting schemes. He has further said that allowing 6 months time to MHADA to buy these 20%  flats on completion of the project would  block the investments and would increase in expense at the builders end. Tthis in turn affect the rates of the flats. He has suggested that the allotment at the construction stage itself will prevent such issues. He has also said that redevelopment projects must be excluded from the purview of this notification and Credai would take up the matter with the chief minister.
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Friday, 19 August 2016

Goregoan Mega Redevelopment gets HC approval

The Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) has informed the Bombay High Court that it would approve redevelopment plans Motilal Nagar area in Goregaon. A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shahand and Justice MS Sanklecha has given their go ahead for the plans. The area is having large scale illegal constructions. The societies which do not go for redevelopment are facing demolition of their structures.

The order comes as a great relief for thousands of residents living in the area. The Motility area is spread across 128 acres and initially had around 400 tenements consisting of small row houses. The allotters had made vertical and horizontal extensions without permission and thus there are over 6000 illegal constructions today. A PIL had sought action against the unauthorized structures in the area and the HC had taken up the matter for hearing. The MHADA under the amended Regulation 33/5 will undertake redevelopment work. Lawyers have said the present occupants could get apartments of over 600 sq.ft. Nearly, 53 societies had submitted redevelopment plans of which none had been approved. Now, with the housing body which itself is going for redevelopment the plans submitted by other societies are also likely to get approval.

If the societies come up with redevelopment of the structures, the BMC had said the corporation would consider the plea of re-development. The HC in January this year had ordered MHADA that if any scheme for redevelopment were to be submitted it would get priority in the matter.

 REITs Income Tax provisions after election: FM

The market regulator SEBI attempt to revive the much awaited Real Estate Investment Trust (REITs) has hit another roadblock, the reason this time being the upcoming general elections to the Lok- Sabha in 2014.

Just three days were left for receiving comments on SEBI’s draft regulation on REITs. But, the Finance Ministry has ruled out introduction of any provisions in the Income Tax act,1961 to allow tax benefits to the investors, before Budget after elections to the Lok-Sabha next year. 

A Finance Ministry official has said that only after the formulation of a concrete policy on REITs the tax incentive to encourage investment can be dicussed. But, due to the upcoming election year to the Lok-Sabha any tax benefits for REITs have been postponed to new budget in July 2014. He has further said that discussion on the subject matter can start only after March 2014 and till then no amendments will be made in the income tax act to grant any tax incentive for REITs.

Implementation of the tax incentives would be important in the smooth implementation of REIT. The industry had demanded tax incentives like exemption of capital gains tax for transfer of assets made by the sponsor i.e., a developer or a private equity fund, to the REIT Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) level and also one time waiver of stamp duty. 

The REIT stakeholders are also demanding that when REIT units are traded on the exchanges they should attract the same securities Transaction Tax and long term short term capital gain tax as applicable to equities. SEBI chairman Mr.U.K.Sinha has said that they would push for grant of incentives from the tax authorities to make REITs work. He has further said that the REITs will not work without the tax benefits.

REIT is a company or a group that owns and manages real estate properties on be half of the investors and similar to a share holding company. Both the investors and the real estate industry will be benefited through REITs. The draft guidelines for REIT’s was released by SEBI on Oct 10 and had invited comments to be submitted latest by Oct 31, 2013.

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Thursday, 18 August 2016



We Indians are traditionally known for living amidst the natural environment and learn to appreciate gifts of nature.  That should be so even today, save the necessary alterations in the environment for our economic development, which of course is inevitable.  But, we should not fail to realize the consequences of our activities on the delicately balanced eco-system. Before it becomes too late to restore, there should be an alternative technology developed through which the balance of the eco system could be maintained without any drastic changes.

Lack of infrastructure facilities and employment opportunities in the rural areas drive the people to the cities like Bangalore, where millions of them are already living in abysmal environments. As a consequence-
(1) The lung space within the cities and its surrounding areas will get affected.
(2) The cities get hotter due to the depletion of trees resulting in open spaces which lead to many side effects.
(3) Slums and squatter settlements are growing faster in the cities.
(4) Nearly 40% of India's urban population is living in a bad environment and have poor drinking water and sanitation.
(5) The city people are forced to live in a bad environment and have poor drinking water and sanitation.
Added to above, the cities have become unmanageable with uncontrolled pollution.

Therefore, environmental planning / landscape planning is essential to maintain breathable air quality and to live comfortably.  The prescribed air quality standards as per National Standards and the European Union Countries standards is shown in Table-1. To achieve the air quality standards, robust planning and interventions are vital in order to maintain and monitor the breathable air quality and water quality which are in a jeopardy.
By altering Air Chemistry and Air Temperature due to cities' vehicular and industrial emissions, the following  ill effects were highlighted by Mr. A. N. Yellappa Reddy in the Seminar, “Planning, Planting and Management of Trees in Urban Areas” held on 18th August 2004 at Bangalore.

Carbon Monoxide:
Nearly all of the global Carbon Monoxide (CO) pollution is caused by motor vehicles, as much as 82 per cent in major urban areas.  About 67 million tonnes of odourless, colourless CO are emitted into the atmosphere each year in the United States of America.

Nitrogen Oxides:
Nitrogen Oxides  - nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide  contribute to the heavy brownish haze often seen over congested areas.  Motor vehicles create about 43 per cent of the nitrogen oxides in the air.

Hydro Carbons:
Hydro Carbons (HC) are made up of a wide range of different hydrocarbon compounds.  Most HCs in the atmosphere come from tailpipe emissions, but others come from the evaporation of gasoline during refuelling, gasoline leakage and poorly maintained fuel systems in order cars.

Carbon Dioxide:
During its lifetime, a car will emit Carbon dioxide (CO2) approximately equal to the car's weight.  There is more CO2 in the atmosphere than any other emission mentioned here. Cars and trucks are responsible for about 20 percent of the total; the rest comes from power plants, industry and agriculture.

Sulphur dioxides: 
Cars and trucks add only a small amount of Sulphur dioxide (SO2) to the air. The rest are produced by the burning of high sulphur coal to generate electricity and other industrial processes.

Smoke, ash and other particles emitted from motor vehicles and industrial plants mix with dust blown up by the wind to make a particulate matter. Diesel engines consumes more fuel especially for transportation by trucks, buses and other heavy vehicles;  whereas cars consumes less diesel.

CO2 in high concentrations in enclosed areas could cause death. In normal outside exposure, especially in cars stalled in heavy traffic could cause headaches and stress upon the heart.  It interferes with the blood's ability to absorb oxygen, which results in the hampering of perception and thinking, slows reflexes and causes drowsiness. If inhaled by a pregnant woman, it may threaten the physical and mental development of the unborn baby.

NO2 could cause respiratory infections and lung diseases. They may also contribute to bronchitis, pneumonia, emphysema and cancer.  NO2 reacts with HC in combination with heat and sunlight to create another pollutant, ozone. Some hydrocarbons, such as benzene, are known to cause cancer.  CO2  contributes to the green house effect.  Many scientists think that too much CO2 is causing the Earth to heat up.  SO2 can cause variety of human health problems.  They also combine with moisture in the atmosphere to form acid rain, which damages lakes, forests and man made structures throughout North America and Europe.

In addition to the above, the ill effects from heavy metals are increasing in urban environment and the same is shown in the table  2.

Environmental scenario of Bangalore :
The builders of Bangalore have fixed the ecological boundary perhaps after assessing its carrying capacity.  They also took care to incorporate essential eco-components of tanks, percolation tanks, Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus (tree groves).

In the year 1862, the first Inspector General of Forest Dr. Brandis deputed an eminent forester to assess the forest and forest management practices of old Mysore State.

The expert after going around the forest submitted a report to Inspector General of Forest stating that the general public and the village communities are managing the life supporting resources very efficiently and there is more to learn from the community than to teach them about life supporting resource management practices.  He had mentioned that the villagers have incorporated a spiritual components of Gramadevatha in the tree groves.  He has reported that in 13,000 villages, there are 19,000 gundtopus.

This clearly indicates that the present Bangalore city encompassed over 800 villages and each village was fully equipped with all eco-components of tanks, percolation tanks, Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus.

These Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus were catering to the ecological services to harbour birds, bees etc., They were also catering to the medicinal services to treat humans / animals.
The Ashwath Kattas and gundtopus were performing the function of lungs and tanks, percolation tanks were performing the function of kidneys.
The Bangalore city retained all these eco-components and until 1970s, the city was a cool retreat because it retained the grandeur of hills, wetlands and various hydrological and ecological components.  Every visitor as soon as he/she entered the city enjoyed a sweety breath.

In stark contrast to the 1970’s, one could see and visualize the power of steel, cement and chemicals.  Virtually citizens are smelling chemicals, breathing chemicals, touching chemicals and the residential localities are surrounded by garbage dumps and sewage lines.

The city has become a heat bone with a large number of heat islands.  In summer,  it becomes a smoke chamber filled with unburnt hydrocarbons, carbon particulate matter, noxious SO2 and SO3 and also terrestrial ozone.  To be precise, one can see relentless encounter between brute matter of toxic load of gaseous and particulate matter filled in the ambient air.

In order to meet the demands of the burgeoning Bangalore, the State Government on Wednesday approved the revised draft Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for Bangalore Metropolitan Area (BMA) for the next 10 years.  As per the draft plan, the green belt area would be reduced from the existing 742 to 494

Planning in an urban environment is essential, because there is no minimal protection to the victims of pollution in the law.  And also the tragedy is that right to development have become right to pollute. As a result, Bangalore’s land mass is filling with garbage, people and vehicles;  therefore planning is essential.  In addition to above, Bangalore has become unmanageable with uncontrolled pollution.  As a result, poor people have been marginalized with virtually half of the urban dwellers forced to live in appalling slums.

Concluding Remarks : 
World Environment Week is celebrated in the first week of June every year and the theme of the year 2005 is “Green Cities  Plan for the Planet”!. We should not be satisfied with that. In fact, such communication media should continue until our entire population develops an environmental consciousness. We have an instinct to save and preserve properties for our children. Similarly, we should consider the “environment” as one of the invaluable “properties” which need to be restored for our future generation. To adopt such a principle, we should be aware of the consequences of our activities on the environment. Further, we should also develop a sense of responsibility. For instance, if we happen to see someone cutting the branch of a road side tree, we should give up the attitude like “it is the duty of the forest department to take care of those trees”, or  “if I cut the other branch, will it not be profitable for me also……….?” Instead, we must assume the responsibility for the tree and stop it from being felled and report to the concerned authorities. Let us be optimistic, if every one of us develop such attitude, there will not be any disaster for the roadside trees and other common resources as well. By doing so, the dream of Green Cities may be realised and also a place for healthy living.

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