Illegal haphazard construction in Shimla

As per an article in Indian Express published on 21st July 2009 about illegal haphazard and construction, there are 13,000 illegal structure in SHIMLA CITY; quite a big number! I was amazed to read this figure and my mind started to back calculate what exactly this number signifies for Shimlaites.

  • Considering about 80% of the illegal structure residential = 10,400
  • All 4 storied and 50% occupied = 2 floors
  • Assuming single family per floor (conservative side)
  • House Hold size = 4.75
  • Number of families = 10400*50%*2= 10400
  • Total population living in illegal structures = 10400*4.75= 49,400
  • Population of Shimla in 2008 = 2,00,000++

So, on a rough estimate more than 25% city residents are living in illegal structures. Let’s say restshimla concrete jungle 20% illegal structures are other institutional and commercial establishments In all respect more than 25% city structures are illegal! A whooping 13,000 figures say it all for the city. (The calculations are on a conservative side.) For that matter, I think presently Shimla doesn’t need a routine patch work but a complete makeover on all fronts. What else does the number signify.

  • Have our Town Planners and Bureaucrats been sleeping? Breeding Corruption? And let the skyline as well as the façade of Shimla city change at its wish.

Hats off! For their penultimate achievement for changing the face of city to its present plight. What Shimla still very much boasts about is the Shimla, the one built by the Britishers, not the present one. Kids and people read about its past glory and visit it to find in a chaos today, a surprise to lower the expectations of visitors from across the country and Globe

  • Or just minting money?

Assuming a Rs. 1,000-10,000/- bribe in each case again on conservative side ~ 2 to 20 Crores INR minted by the authorities and their pawns, well the economy is growing this way or the other!!

  • Or are these structures/constructions Legally-Illegal in some way or the other?

In turn ‘we the residents’ and the ‘Planners’, alike have added to the present chaos and complexity of Shimla city. Who is accountable, is it the planners/authority/bureaucrats and above all the Citizens alike? We as citizens are equally accountable to bypass the law and amount to the present situation, building a concrete jungle over the much celebrated seven hills of British India. You name any basic necessity today, water, power, public transport etc. and infrastructure like road parking, health services, sewerage and all you count and Shimla is lacking it. The illegal structure adds to the woes of us all and will keep adding in future. It is interesting to know that the Shimla core City is still partially sustaining on a century old water supply and storm water drainage system. Whereas the new water schemes commissioned for Shimla city are a pain in the SMC’s guts.

Had English people kept Shimla as there colony till 2000; I assure you things would have been quite alarmingly different than what we have presently. On the contrary we Indians have it in our blood, a mysterious chasm of ineffable negligence which breeds generation after generations to mar the beauty and reap the harvest as we are reaping in Shimla.

Way forward is with Architects and Planners… (Not the ones charging 5000 for any type of plan) but a new generation full of creative energy and thoughts, to change the present Shimla to be a far better landscape and a livable city in next 5-10 years. The mindset need to be changed at all fronts, why not world class infra-structure? Why not quality services? Why not sustainable humane architecture? Just painting roofs red and green is not the solution to get a legal status and make city more beautiful.

I wonder if more than 25% of the city is illegal (a conservative calculation though) I tend to question and doubt the structural stability of all these structures. Are we sitting on a disaster in making? An earthquake can jolt the city apart. These 25% structures are likely to harm another 25% structures or may be more. In a way more than half the city risks its life and future.

Dubai was a dream a fresh canvass. Shanghai, Hongkong were dreams too. A fresh canvass and an old one too, painted alike. Why not Shimla? I hope there are numerous people sitting across the globe who are part of this forum. Please share your city experiences with us. May be some pics and what makes them great cities to live in, their best practices (Please don’t worry about the population difference as compared to Shimla)

It all just needs a focused will power and efficient working to achieve the delineated goal, what Shimla can be?

Today, we may end up regularizing these 13,000 structures and then what? Again build more illegal structures. May be 20,000 more. In another 10 years as the population may demand a vicious cycle. Who is accountable??? Mantri ji, Commissionor Saab…CTP…or the residents. Our next generations will follow our footsteps and the pines would soon have lived their life and soon be a endangered species. We would then enjoy the beautifully framed snaps of snow clad, pine covered Shimla city neatly kept in dusty albums over a century later, may be two or three at the most.

I dream of a city so beautiful  in years to come but that dream will be a dream I think. I am not the one living in Shimla. I am not the one minting money. I am not the one sleeping in those illegal structures. I am not the one who waits for water to come every 3rd or 4th day. Rather I have chosen the village life. Live in village and work in plains. But I am concerned about Shimla (because I miss the better side of it which we have failed to realise) as should be any inhabitant of the city.

Wake up Shimla wake up…before it’s too late!!  The way global Climate is headed there won’t be any bypass or highways rather there will be single but over congested Hill roads for Shimlaites; For us all to live and travel on.

This is a guest post by Bonjour

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7 Responses to "Illegal haphazard construction in Shimla"

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  2. Gaurav   November 20, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Yes its true that common sense, planning, aesthetics, sensitivity/concerns/responsibility towards environment ended after 1947. And its true as natives of the land we are proving to be a big burden. Probably our forefathers settling in Western Himalayas ranges proved to be a big casualty. Himalayas are the yougest mountain range and we look keen to make it youngest to die ever.

    Reply
  3. Gaurav   November 20, 2009 at 4:36 am

    Yes its true that common sense, planning, aesthetics, sensitivity/concerns/responsibility towards environment ended after 1947. And its true as natives of the land we are proving to be a big burden. Probably our forefathers settling in Western Himalayas ranges proved to be a big casualty. Himalayas are the yougest mountain range and we look keen to make it youngest to die ever.

    Reply
  4. NITYIN   November 24, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Shimla is sitting on a time bomb. It lies in the earthquake zone and one can imagine what havoc it will create once the tragedy strucks. Been a witness of the destruction in the Gujarat earthquake I can very well imagine how the skyline of Shimla will change for ever. The authorities as usual have turned a blind eye to the destruction in waiting!!

    Reply
  5. NITYIN   November 25, 2009 at 4:07 am

    Shimla is sitting on a time bomb. It lies in the earthquake zone and one can imagine what havoc it will create once the tragedy strucks. Been a witness of the destruction in the Gujarat earthquake I can very well imagine how the skyline of Shimla will change for ever. The authorities as usual have turned a blind eye to the destruction in waiting!!

    Reply
  6. Abhishek   November 25, 2009 at 6:45 am

    I second your thoughts on “Had English people kept Shimla as there colony till 2000; I assure you things would have been quite alarmingly different than what we have presently. On the contrary we Indians have it in our blood, a mysterious chasm of ineffable negligence which breeds generation after generations to mar the beauty and reap the harvest as we are reaping in Shimla.”

    Shimla should never have been the capital of Himachal but our political class wants the best for themselves and people here don’t give a damn to the things you have listed here as we have never been an environment conscious human beings. People have money to buy everything but have no time to spare a thought for mother nature. they are just too engrossed in luxuries and conveniences of their lives and they don’t want to be disturbed.

    Reply
  7. Abhishek   November 25, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I second your thoughts on “Had English people kept Shimla as there colony till 2000; I assure you things would have been quite alarmingly different than what we have presently. On the contrary we Indians have it in our blood, a mysterious chasm of ineffable negligence which breeds generation after generations to mar the beauty and reap the harvest as we are reaping in Shimla.”

    Shimla should never have been the capital of Himachal but our political class wants the best for themselves and people here don’t give a damn to the things you have listed here as we have never been an environment conscious human beings. People have money to buy everything but have no time to spare a thought for mother nature. they are just too engrossed in luxuries and conveniences of their lives and they don’t want to be disturbed.

    Reply

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