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 rest 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