Nagpur: Some years ago I had a sudden, unplanned House guest for a week. On the request of his sister my husband had gone to receive a guest from Chennai and put him up at a decent hotel near the new cricket stadium or airport as it was his maiden visit to Nagpur. Instead, a complete stranger landed up at my house with his big bag and bigger smile. He was in the city to watch the World Cup match between India and South Africa that was to be played at Jamtha in two days.
This event had brought so many outsiders to the city that ALL Nagpur hotels were full. Those that still had some rooms to spare had jacked up their price to match the most expensive 5 star hotel in Mumbai or Banglore; so this man was brought home to stay.Not just its hotels, the whole city had an exciting aura that week. Restaurants did roaring business too – there was the excitement of suddenly getting to meet a world class umpire somewhere, or some of the players. Even Tiger Tourism was at a peak with many outsiders going on to visit Pench or Tadoba afterwards.
The ICC is so thrilled with the stadium and its facilities that every time a series is planned in India, Nagpur is definitely slated to hold a test match or a one day event.
This has been the scenario since the stadium was inaugurated in November 2008 – over 7 years ago now. Isn’t it strange that questions over its legality and its viability even, are suddenly cropping up? Even Nagpur’s Guardian Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule has raised strong misgivings about it! Makes one wonder if Nagpur administrators and local politicians were asleep all these years and did not notice that this ‘supposedly illegal’ huge edifice had come up close to a busy high way and stone’s throw away from our ‘international airport?’ One can see it from the road, from the train and from the sky.
The winter session of the Maharashtra Government is held in Nagpur every year, when every Minister is in town as is almost every senior IAS officer, every Secretary including the Urban planning and Home. No one realized that this stadium, which even they and their families would have visited to see matches, had NO relevant permissions? Very strange isn’t it? Bawankule has spoken up now, what were BJP politicians, who were in the opposition when the stadium was built and launched, doing then?
The country’s Infrastructure Minister lives in Nagpur, he has grand plans for the city… at least he should have been aware that one very visible structure had no business being there? More you think about it, more ridiculous it all sounds!
Then you begin to wonder – how serious are our city fathers about ANY of our grand structures and their legalities?
What about Empress Mall, for instance? It is the biggest mall in the city, that too in the old and congested part of the city. Why does it not have a multi level parking facility which such malls have in any Indian metro? Why are there only 3 – 4 lifts which are over crowded all the time and look like accidents waiting to happen?
Let us look at the newest mall – that houses Nagpur Central. It is built over the Nag Nallah/ river. It hardly has ANY designated parking and visitors crowd the Ramdaspeth lanes with their cars. How legal is this? The Jaswant Tuli mall has space for parking of less than 10 cars and it is built on one of Nagpur’s busiest roads that is actually a high way cutting through the city.
Want more examples? Take the city’s grandest wedding venue of the day. The Rajwada palace. Three weddings/ receptions can happen here simultaneously. How many cars can it park? Not ONE! On any busy ‘muhurat’ day when many weddings happen you can see cars of hapless guests parked almost a Km away from this ‘palace’ on both sides. Shukrawari talao perimeter road is full of vehicles of these wedding guests.
Has NMC built roads so that a private entity can earn lakhs of revenue in a day? Why does it not charge the establishment for parking at least? If Rajwada palace earns Rs. 10 lakhs on a given day, it can surely share Rs. 1 lakh with NMC for utilizing its space? Would definitely solve the cash crunch that NMC is facing!
What about Hotel Centre Point, Tuli Imperial, Pride and all such hotels on busy city roads? How legal are they sans any parking spaces? Weddings happen here too. Havans happen inside so called centrally airconditioned premises. If a fire were to happen, do they have fire escapes ? ( Or are such rules only for a selected/ targeted building like CARE hospital?)
Now that we are on the subject of hospitals, what about all the hospitals in Ramdaspeth and Dhantoli ? Despite repeated strictures by the High Court, none of these ‘public establishments’ have any facilities for visiting public. Areas that have been designated as parking places have built structures, so driving through Dhantoli is a nightmare at any time of day/ evening. One can only imagine the woes of people living in Dhantoli!
What about shopping centres, apart from malls? Let us look at Purthi – which everyone knows belongs to Gadkari family and friends. Leave alone having any parking facility, the supermarket itself is built in a space that was supposed to be the parking place for the Central Scientific Hall that is adjacent to Purthi. What about its legality?
Everyone knows that in the CM’s constituency itself PKV ( agriculture University) farm land has been most illegally captured by wedding lawns, restaurants and many other commercial establishments. These farms are the lungs of Nagpur city – instead they are choking the city further when they attract thousands of visitors with their vehicles and their cracker bursting and the waste they generate.
You look around the city of Nagpur and you see no evidence of any urban planning. Hospitals, cinema theatres, schools built on the same main road side by side. When a noisy ‘baraat’ comes to the wedding venue with its band and its crackers, what happens to patients in the hospital and students in class rooms?
One feels very sorry in saying this – our foreign rulers, the British, built Nagpur so lovingly and gave it so many grand structures. Like the High Court, the GPO, the Nagpur Railway station and Maharaj Bag. What have we done with them?
Built an unnecessary flyover that spoils the look of our Heritage Railway station; Maharaj Bag is full of weeds and its facade is now covered with a 3rd grade Bollywood horror movie like entrance structure! The beautiful agriculture college has hundreds of cars plying in front of it, unmindful of the fact that students come here to study how to grow food!
If we have to look into the legality of a structure built 17 – 18 Kms away from the city, let us look at our city first. Doesn’t Charity begin at home? So should Scrutiny!
…. Sunita Mudliyar-Associate Editor