With around 50 members, the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), Nashik, is an important association in the real estate sector. Its chairman Nilesh Chavan speaks about the architectural changes taking place in the city, the present scenario in the construction industry and issues architects and builders are facing, in conversation with Tushar Pawar. Excerpts:
What are the changes taking place in architecture?
Nashik city was not so vibrant in terms of architecture around 12 years ago. This was the time when building bungalows was in focus and the entire momentum shifted to the construction industry. Today, we have no dearth of good designs, right from bungalows to high class convention centre. In the country, the architectural momentum is now shifting to tier two cities. Nashik is at a much higher level compared to other cities in terms of architectural designs. In case of tier one cities, Bangalore is very vibrant in terms of architectural momentum and designs.
What is the present scenario of construction industry in Nashik?
The whole construction industry is facing recession and Nashik is not an exception to this. In Nashik, supply is abundant, but demand is comparatively low. There are around 4,500 ready flats across the city lying unsold. New projects are not coming up due to excess supply. The property prices have increased a lot in the past few years vis-a-vis the pay scale of the people. Earlier, outskirts like Adgaon, Pathardi and Makhmalabad were the regions where common people would prefer buying flats as the prices there were lower than the rates in the city. However, the prices in these areas have also gone beyond the buying capacity of the common man.
Besides, the ready reckoner rates and other hidden taxes have also been increased by the state government from January 1. This has also led to reduction in real estate deals.
What are your views on the draft DP?
The Indian Institute of Architects, Association of Consulting Civic Engineers and the Architects & Engineers’ Association jointly worked out suggestions needed to be included in the draft DP, which is being revised by Prakash Bhukte, joint director (Nashik division) of the town planning department of the state government. We recently met Bhukte and submitted our suggestions.
We are of the view that there should be green belts in the city, not in the form of agricultural land, but new areas with tree plantations, too. In the previous draft, the DP roads or ring roads were 30m wide, which needs to be increased to at least 40m considering the growth of the city.
A provision for mass rapid transit system (MRTS), connecting the city with nearby towns such as Sinnar, Pimpalgaon and Trimbakeshwar, should be made in the new draft DP. The draft needs to have a comprehensive policy for land reservation. The transfer of development rights (TDR) should be increased so that landowners will also benefit and thus would want to give their land to the municipal body. We also need to have more truck terminus projects. Besides, the planning should be done for setting up the new industrial estate near the existing ones at Satpur and Ambad.
What are issues pertaining to the civic body and the government?
There is a need to speed up the administrative process and maximize the use of computerisation in the town planning department of the Nashik Municipal Corporation (NMC). We pay various taxes in cash while getting building plans approved, like drainage connection charges, tree plantation deposit, development charges, construction cess, local body tax and scrutiny fees, which vary anywhere between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 5 lakh. The NMC must provide online facility to pay these taxes. We also require duplicate receipts on payment of taxes.
The NMC needs approvals of the state government on various issues, and proposals in this connection are sent by the civic standing committee to the government. But it is a time-consuming process. The town planning department of the state has its joint director at the divisional level. Hence, approvals to the issues of the NMC should be given at divisional level by the joint director to speed up the process. For example, the proposal of the NMC for allowing 45m tall buildings is pending with the government for about one-and-a-half years. Moreover, momentum should be given to the inward and outward system of the NMC. There is also need to simplify the development control rules of the NMC. The issue of multi-level parking, open-to-sky terrace and many other issues of the municipal corporation are pending with the state government.
What do you think about the trend of using glass in commercial projects, which produces a lot of heat? Is this hampering the environment?
Two legendary architects, Charles Correa and Laurie Baker, never used glass while constructing buildings in their whole life. I am also of the view that there is no need to use glass in a country like India where maximum temperature reaches to the range of 35 to 40 degrees celsius. There is no need to use glass to beautify buildings. There are several new designs and techniques which can be applied to make buildings attractive.
What are you priorities as the president of the Indian Institute of Architects, Nashik centre?
Besides being an architect, I’m working on linking common people with the association. I’m also working on reducing tussles between architects and the government or civic body officials and increase dialogue between them. I am also working towards bringing good co-ordination among all associations in construction industry.
How do you see Nashik growing in the next few years?
The basic infrastructure in Nashik is good. The city has good road connectivity to Mumbai, while its road connectivity to Pune is also being developed. Nashik is now at a stage where it is growing naturally; we don’t need not to do anything for the purpose. What we need is commencement of air service from Nashik. If these things are taken care of, the city has a bright future.