JAL VAYU DEFENCE ENCLAVE KHARGHAR – HOW CAN IT BECOME THE BEST COLONY?

Jal Vayu (Navy, Air Force) colonies, through AFNHB (Air Force Navy Housing Board with head-office in New Delhi) are meant to provide affordable housing to officers and other ranks of IAF and Navy). Here is from the Home page of AFNHB site:

“AFNHB generally constructs two categories of dwelling units, one for the officers category and the other for airmen / sailors category of Air Force and Navy. The funding for the dwelling units is through Self Financed Schemes with an approximate of 10% of the expected price of the flat being deposited at the time of registration and balance in easy installments.

The Air Force Naval Housing Board (AFNHB) as a Service Welfare Body is committed to serve the housing needs of the Naval and Air Force community purely on ‘No Profit No Loss’ basis. This Board was registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860, with an objective to promote housing schemes in cities all over the country as per the demand of the Naval and Air Force personnel.

AFNHB can proudly claim to have a clientele of over 18,000 allottees and by the turn of the millennium, it had completed handing over of almost 14,000 dwelling units and farm units.”

JVDE Phase I, Kharghar was advertised by AFNHB as an Officers’ Colony though over a period of time it has mixed clientele of officers, other ranks and even civilians.

Whilst the colony (due to the focus on Societies Act, these days it is convenient to call a colony as a ‘society’) residents enjoy the facilities and privileges as planned by AFNHB, being a defence housing society, it has a responsibility of becoming an ideal society or a role model that people all around should look up to.

Regrettably, due to raging environment of animosity between the members for over five years now (ranging from strong under-currents to open fist-fighting hostilities), the ordinary members like me have suffered. I joined the scheme in 1994-5 itself and my serial number in the scheme was KHA0004 (the fourth member to have joined the scheme!) On retirement from the Indian Navy on 28th Feb 2010, I looked forward to a peaceful, officer-like atmosphere. Sadly, within no time it was made home to me that the atmosphere was more like a melee. In the Annual General-body Meets of the Society (that used to last for days and even nights), all the proceedings used to be video recorded so that in case of serious injuries due to free-for-all there would be some legal record for the police and other authorities. Everyone used to hurl something called bye-laws at one another. Everyone used to look at everyone suspiciously. People had formed various camps and the only agenda that members followed was to somehow sort out the other party/camp.

Spy Vs Spy

During one such melee, I got up to speak and requested everyone to behave like officers (the word, that to me, is always synonymous with gentlemen). The mike that I held was rudely snatched from my hands and the person snatching the mike spoke with ferocity, “That’s exactly what is wrong with this Society; officers think that they are the only ones staying here. We ain’t officers; we are sailors and we have every right to be here.”

That put an end to my active participation in any discussion or debate in the AGMs. I find it rather lowly to win an argument with lung power and noise. But, then we have quite a few experts in the Society who revel in noise (Please also read: ‘Noise Is The Newest Form Of Devotion’) and blasting the day-lights out of other members for them is routine).

I silently (I have always done it in this manner) pray to God to let good sense return to the JVDE, Kharghar Society.

However, for the time being, there is a major camp that is forever drilling into all of us, a la political parties style debates in the media: Yes, we did some mistakes and we were bad. But, we weren’t as bad as the new management committee that you have elected.

Then there is a camp of the new MC that is seeking to set right every wrong that was earlier done and lead the Society into better days.

And then there is a small camp (you can call it a camp but we ain’t formally organised as the other two) of people like me who wish that we would actually live in harmony and work towards making JVDE, Kharghar the best colony ever.

Lets look at some of the issues that have divided us and made us choose, sometimes unwittingly, one or the other camp. Most often people start taking sides without understanding the issues. I may not be right in the kind of legalese that has come to prevail in our colony now. However, I do know that I am factually right and have, as always, no axe to grind.

  • Encroachments. These were made into such a huge issue. At one time it was made to look like that the very existence of JVDE was dependent upon removing the so called encroachments. Anyone listening to the term and the ensuing heated discussions and fist-fights would have thought that somehow members of JVDE had become so unlawful that they thought of nothing but encroaching upon what was called as common areas. Basically, if my memory serves me right, the issue first came up in an SGM of 2012 when an agency called MM Consultants were asked by the then MC to carry out a survey to establish the extent and nature of encroachments. Two internal committees were constituted too; one of them to see if any structural concerns were there. Meanwhile, it appeared to most people that people were targeted (this approach of putting the other party in its place became a way of life). Whilst it was said that CIDCO had pointedly objected to such encroachments, it later came out that we ourselves went to CIDCO repeatedly with the list of encroachments until they’d take notice. This aa-bail-mujhe-maar (Come-bull-hit-me) approach finally divided the entire community. Curiously, it came out that two opposite flats being combined together was done by AFNHB themselves in their show-case flats and AFNHB itself sought from CIDCO regularisation of the same. However, some 18 members who emulated AFNHB were made to feel like worms and repeatedly and publicly humiliated. With this issue, with each of the two major camps relentlessly approaching CIDCO and AFNHB, it was amply demonstrated that we had no vision towards a harmonious, ideal, and happy society, but that, we considered ego and prestige issues above the welfare of everyone. This non-issue also kept us away from discussing issues that we should have been discussing to make ours as the best colony.
  • Fire-Safety. Having divided the community squarely on the above issue of Encroachments, the next thing was to scare the hell out of all of us by combining the issue of encroachments with that of Fire-Safety. I have been a keen listener during the heated discussions (having been shut-up by absolutely rude conduct by some of the other members). It was repeatedly told, in the anti-people approach that was perfected,  that the Maharashtra Fire Safety Rules were flouted by members indiscriminately by encroachments and that our Fire Insurance of Rupees 17 Lakhs was wasted because of the self-serving approach of these members. Flower-pots, shoe racks, foot-mats were all targeted. It finally came out that what stood in the way of Fire Insurance wasn’t so much as these items but the deficiencies that were to be made up in the Fire-equipment. Somehow, in the prevailing spy versus spy atmosphere that prevailed, the significant issues were put under the carpet. Take for example the fact that MSEB had taken a complete transformer sub-station and we were not bothered to get it back, which would have ensured that every two buildings had a transformer instead of at that time four buildings per transformer. However, we were fighting amongst ourselves in our holier-than-thou attitude.
  • Water Shortages. In relentless attempt to divide the society and hence prove that the earlier camp of the MC was a better proposition, this issue came in handy. The timing of this was perfect; most acute water shortages were noticed when the transition took place last year. Passions were so strong that no one wanted to go into the reasons for it but spew his/her venom with impunity. In the midst of constant din and vitriol, the problem was sorted out by resorting to firstly, overall cleaning and upkeep of the pump-house; secondly, upgrading the water treatment plant; and lastly, replacement of about 75 metres of pipeline from CIDCO pipe to our pump-house.
  • Conveyance Deed. Everyone is concerned about the fact that the Conveyance Deed of the Land and the Buildings hasn’t yet taken place between the AFNHB and the JVDE Society. This is a little complex issue than meets the eye. During the period 1996-99, there is an unregistered agreement between AFNHB and CIDCO (for a 60 years lease deed) and it should always have been AFNHB’s intention to pass it on to us when the society would be registered. However, it seems that between Dec 2010 and Jul 2011, some change of thought-process has taken place. Also, the CIDCO project accounts were finalised only in 2012. AFNHB has been, in the meantime, earning money on resale of flats and it is estimated that it has made some Rupees 14 Lakhs so far (for each resale of flat, the JVDE and AFNHB get Rupees 20000 each and CIDCO gets Rupees 10000). Meanwhile, two other issues have made the matter a little more complicated: One, that AFNHB has written to CIDCO to regularise the alterations to flats (some of which was being touted heatedly as Encroachment issue) that it did at that time. And two, residents of Gulab building took HCC, AFNHB, and Architect Kukreja to Consumer Court and won an award of Rupees 8.59 Lakhs to compensate them for poor construction. This money cannot be paid out of Society funds as it is discriminatory against those who haven’t gone to the court (all the other buildings) though they too face issues of similar poor construction. Now that AFNHB has been caught on the wrong foot on a number of these issues, there is quite a bit of softening of their earlier stand. We must, therefore, get the best deal in favour of the society from both AFNHB and CIDCO.

It can thus be seen that the issues that engage our attention most of the times, at present, are really not the issues that we should dissipate extensive time and energy on unless it is a viable argument that an eye for an eye and one-upmanship are the correct approach for the Society.

Leadership #15

Here are some of the issues that should really be worthy of our consideration in order that JVDE should become an ideal society:

  1. Water re-cycling.
  2. Rainwater harvesting.
  3. Waste management leading to composting and zero waste.
  4. Long term structural issues of buildings.
  5. Roofs over terraces of all buildings in the manner of Tulip and Daffodil.

Flogging dead horses is a hobby fit for those who want to win popularity contests and let ego rule over everything. On the other hand, time has come for all of us to abandon camps and one-upmanship and truly become participants in the management of our society and lead it to become the best colony anywhere.

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Our colony is really very beautiful with its central lawn and landscaping, thanks to all those earlier and now who have managed the affairs of our colony. Lets all pull together and focus on positives rather than being constantly surrounded by negatives all the while and pull in different directions.

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Jai Hind.

© 2016, Sunbyanyname. All rights reserved.

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23 Comments

    1. Thanks Sundeep. Time has come for us to collectively think of the future of our fine Society rather than living in the past negativism all the while.

  1. This is the most unbiased and correct depiction of the issues. I do hope everyone reads and understands the issues which should translate into civilized conduct of our meetings. I sincerely wish you success in the endeavour.

    Air Vice Marshal CV Subramaniam
    D-701, Juhi.

    1. Thank you so much AVM Sir. More than anything else, the residents deserve peace, harmony and assurance that we are in it together rather than relentlessly divided in motley camps.

  2. Sir,
    I hope better sense prevails and people do not get into altercations. Some are still very keen to demonstrate that they can only be the harbinger.
    I totally agree with your views and let me thank you summarising the issues beautifully.
    Regards,
    Sreejith

    1. Thank you Sreejith. I have put myself squarely in line of fire. But, the idea is that we should all collectively look at the betterment of our society rather than to settle scores. Only yesterday, when we wore uniform, each one of us we could be trusted to lead men and women in war. And now, we don’t trust our shadow!

  3. Very aptly enumerated fact sheet. Being together in a Good Housing society is the only option for healthy, happy and peaceful leaving . Let’s all pull together :- Capt DK Mishra(Retd.)

    1. Thank you Wishes Sir. Totally agree with you. I am happy to notice like-minded people in the Society in comparison to those who are at each other’s throat all the while.

  4. BRAVO, RAVI. for putting the problems besetting the JVDE in such a succint fashion.

    As a personal opinion, I would like to state that the previous MC, due to the single minded pursuit of the then CHAIRMAN, to remove all encroachments, as though he was the choosen one to bear that cross; spoilt the atmosphere of the Society. Now having handed over that job and therefore not being able to pursue that issue anymore, he has latched on the the LAND LEASE issue. It may be recalled that during his tenure he did not do a whit towards resolving the LAND LEASE issue. He seems to me to be a bit like our man KEJRIWAL, who keeps looking for issues to beat the MODI sarkar with, to stay relevant. I do believe that like the PROVERBIAL ‘ khisiyani bill khamba noche ‘ he will continue to spoil the atmosphere and create schisms in our Society, in future.

    I fully endorse what Ravi has said of a collective effort to bring in harmony in the Society as was ideally envisaged. I am aware that although most of us are beyond 60, the age when our brains are meant to be pickled, we must all, each and everyone of us, make a sincere effort towards that aim.

    1. Commodore Abhyankar Sir, regards. I am making an all out effort to bring everyone on the same footing and rejuvenate the atmosphere of camaraderie that the services are known for. In that spirit, I won’t want to use strong words against any individual by name. I believe in what the famous author Harper Lee said in her famous book ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’: “You don’t really know a man until you step into his shoes and walk around in them……most people are really nice when you finally see them”.

      I hope to be proved right!

  5. Sir, I too had opted for this scheme and went on to pay about half the cost of the flat before withdrawing. The reason for this was that I was sitting with Niranjan Hiranandani of Hiranandani Constructions, when he said the Naval people were fools, and that he’d shifted the AFNHB scheme at Kharghar from the plot opposite the Railway Station to some place deep inside Kharghar. I visited Kharghar and saw this was actually so, with Hiranandani Crystal (did I get the name right?) coming up on the site I thought was the AFNHB’s. A few phone calls confirmed this, and I withdrew.

    1. Sid, that is indeed correct. However, in the end, we have a better place right next to the Central Park rather than in the din near the main highway, railway station etc. It has affected the resale value, yes; but, those of us who want to stay here are more comfortable.

      Have a look at this to understand what I am saying:

      ‘Walk Or Gym? I Like It In The Open’

  6. This write up has put forth facts most deftly and dispassionately. Hope it serves as a trigger for all to realise that united we stand, divided we fall.

    1. Thank you Rajiv. We have no choice. If we continue with this approach of ‘divide and rule’, we shall be objects of mockery of all around us.

  7. Dear Ravi,
    Your blog has stirred a hornet’s nest. Though I see you meant well and wish that peace prevails in our society but you fell short on your own saying “Most often people start taking sides without understanding the issues”. I am sorry to point out that your blog is full of factual errors and indicative of the fact that you are not fully informed. Do you mean to say that the previous committee did not want peace, or they did not have the intellect to understand what was right and what was not! For heaven’s sake from where did you get this from “yes, we did some mistakes and we were bad. But, we weren’t as bad as the new management committee that you have elected”. Is following bye laws wrong? Is asking people to remove the encroachments in common areas wrong? Was insuring our society assets wrong? Was renovating all lifts in the society wrong (17 out of 24 lifts were not working when we took over)? Not misappropriating single paisa from society funds, was it wrong? I can go on and on.
    We were the first MC of registered JVDE and had responsibility to discharge both towards the outside authorities and the members. Do you have an idea what it takes to run a society of 632 members? You have rightly quoted Harper Lee “You don’t really know a man until you step into his shoes and walk around in them….most people are really nice when you finally see them”. Is it not appropriate to us? The discipline we brought in the society in five years has been flittered away by the present committee because there is free for all happening in the society today. Are so many strays habitating our society acceptable to you? Is the standard of security up to the mark? Did you want us to not check anyone and let this society become a chawl? In the comments one of the ex-chairman who used to sail for 6 months in a year has, pointing at me, the audacity to comment “He did not do a whit towards resolving Land Lease”. Are you aware that the final project costing audit in 2012 got completed with relentless pursuance of our committee with then DG AFNHB RAdm Gaikwad at break even securing waiver of Rs. 4.40 crore deficit? Had the project costing been approved in the AGM of 2012 we would have got the land lease much before demitting office. You know this ex-chairman was in a legal mess in a court case filed by Late Shri Anand for misapplication of society fund. Unfortunately he passed away early this year and the case could not reach its logical end?
    As I said earlier, you perhaps meant well by writing this blog albeit at the cost of deriding and showing the previous committee in poor light with veiled allegations, but did you notice who all have commented on your blog thus far? They are the same people who are keeping their self interest above that of society’s interest. They either themselves are defaulters and adamant not to remove their encroachments or they are their supporters. As of today they are the ones holding our land lease from coming through. I am willing to take up the challenge of open discussion with any member of this society, on any topic concerning our actions which we took for the betterment of the society during our tenure, at a public place of their choosing.
    I can write volumes on every issue which has been raised by you but in my first response I wanted to keep it brief. If you promise to publish all my comments I will write on each issue in detail, one at a time, for the members to understand these issues in totality. If you don’t mind your blog becoming a battle field I am game for it. At the end, I congratulate you for picking up the flag of the third front of so called peace loving members, count me in!

    Sandhu

    1. Please notice, Cmde Sandhu Sir, that your comment has been approved for publication within one minute of your putting it up. You have called it “brief” but it is nearly as big as the blog itself.

      To start with, please do not mix up the issues. I have already acknowledged the fact of you and your predecessor doing a great job that has made this Society look so beautiful.

      I won’t really want to go into the legalese of the issues involved; I have said that in the blog itself. Since you have asked many questions, let me ask you only a few: “Are you aware, Sir, that because of the atmosphere of intransigence, hostility, and mistrust that you created, dozens of members wish to shift out of the Society? Will it help if you are the only member staying in the Society and then you are proved right? Are you aware that the only reason people forget the good work that you and your MC have done is because of your single-point agenda to sort out people?”

      We do require opposition of all ideas. But, as Jawahar Lal Nehru once said, “Opposition should be like the banks of a river guiding it along its course. It shouldn’t be like a large rock in the middle, splitting the river.” I am afraid, Sir, your opposition of all ideas, except your own, is actually splitting our Society.

      I entreat you to shun the path of intransigence. So far, there are many people in the Society who have felt that you follow I am Ok, You are not OK’ approach whilst dealing with people. Try following ‘I am Ok, You are OK’ approach and I am sure you will find real answers to the issues facing the Society rather than the legally correct ones that you have promised to put up.

      I apologise to you if anything that I have said appears to be showing you or the previous MC in poor light. As you have correctly observed, that was not the intention at all. I shall feel thrilled if all of us actually pull together and win together.

      Sponge out and secure Sir. CRAA carried out magnificently. But, the Serial has been completed. Lets participate in the remaining Serials (Evolutions) together. We are all Blue Forces, Sir. Please stop targeting what you perceive as Red Forces.

      1. Good evening Cmde Ravi sir,
        I am having very high regards for your blog sunbyanyname which is one of the “Best Indian Blogs” and you as a poet and social writer and, continue having.

        But since when you thru the very same esteemed blog started involving in local petty issues which are flying in our society ? People not only of our society including me but many other fans who read for enjoying your write ups and songs/ poets/ naval memories/ child hood memories and shareable joyful views perceived a wrong msg. They have nothing to do with our society affairs.

        The kind and quality of your themes used to be of different kind where one use to feel a sense of belongingness and swing with flow of words as such I can say शब्दों की माला never left without logical conclusion.

        But to be back to point, almost all the issues you raised were no where near the fact except Waste Management which is brought in JVDE by present MC. The material put was unsuitable for such an esteemed blog and I sincerely request you to keep this blog away from such things.

        One thing you rightly described about camps in our society. This wrong doers camp always take advantage of persons of impartial nature for once to use and leave. Since Tomorrow is a SGM for Land lease, they create such stunt. you must have noticed how fast they reacted in appreciation to establish themselves.

        Sir, Two wrong can not make one right. Myth has no life, it only prop up once but can’t sustain lon, Right does ! I still can’t believe the misleading words which I read on this blog.

        1. I have failed, I admit that Jugbir. The blog was written so that people, where I stay, would get out of these “petty issues”, as you have rightly brought out, and embrace camaraderie, trust, peace and harmony. But, it seems that the camps that are there, do not want to yield an inch. Each one wants to prove itself right and proclaim that the other has got it wrong. In your case, and in the case of our ex Chairman, not only that the other camp is wrong, but, even I am wrong to have ever dreamt that peace would return to our society. You have gone several steps ahead in saying that a person like me dreaming of peace and harmony is only denigrating his own blog!

          Why would I go out of my way to blog about these “petty issues”? If you had read the underlying theme of the blog correctly, you would have known that it affects me to be staying in a stifling atmosphere wherein former brother officers now hate one another’s shadows.

          Why do you think AFNHB goes about making houses for us? They call it “affordable” but at the time I bought it, it was costing the same as a similar house outside. The main reason therefore is to give us the same life that we were used to whilst in service. Now, ask yourself, this:

          1. Were we used to fist fights in the Navy or Air Force whilst discussing things?
          2. Did we view our fellow residents there with suspicion all the times, relentlessly spreading all kinds of rumours about them?
          3. Did we really make mountains out of mole-hills of such “petty issues”?
          4. Did we, ever, in the open use loud speakers to air our religious devotions?
          5. Did we believe our civilian authorities more than our brother officers?

          Please pause and think. I have taken fiercely independent stands all my life and I refuse to tow any line.

          To me the biggest need of our Society is to restore trust, harmony, peace and gentlemanliness. As compared to the “petty issues” that you labeled, these ain’t petty issues when the very fabric of a defence society is sought to be destroyed simply because you feel you are right.

          I remember the words of an eminent priest: “God, don’t let me try to prove with arguments that I know to be wrong”.

          I hope you have exhausted all ‘arguments’ and are ready to participate in restoring peace, harmony and trust in our Society.

  8. Notwithstanding anything anyone says about the contents, it is a very well intentioned effort on behalf of Cmde Ravi. It aptly sums up the feelings of vast majority of peace loving residents of JVDE 1, like me, who are here to spend their final few years of life, in an atmosphere of good neighborhood and harmonious relations with one another. I am all for this effort and am sure barring few every one wants to have sensible atmosphere in the complex. Let us take a step back, and think before firing the next salvo, though as a hydrographer I am ill equipped to use the term, being not within my professional competence.

    1. Thank you Sir. I won’t be wrong in saying Sir, that unlike what Jugbir has said, this is really the number one issue that is facing us: whether we deserve to be called a Defence Enclave or not. The current polluted atmosphere signifies that we are as far from justifying our name as we can get! Regards.

  9. Dear Ravi,
    Your views posted on 21 June are very apt and really highlight the issues. I fully endorse these views and applaud your efforts at bringing about harmony and cooperative atmosphere in our Society. I believe that any Society issue, however contentious or complicated, must be discussed and debated in an objective manner, without personal bias, and a decision arrived at. Taking the matter to outside authorities will only create Angst and Anger, and result in an adverse reaction which will further aggravate the matter. Such actions cause tremendous anxiety in most members.
    I also believe that encouraging voluntary, or through Peer Group pressure, Self Compliance of Bye Laws or JVDE Customs and traditions is better than the concept of Enforcing Discipline. The last should be resorted to only if the member is openly defiant of the wishes of the majority.
    I also believe that the Elected MC must be supported in its efforts. Trying to malign, or undercut its authority in open forums adversely reflects on those who do so than on those targeted.
    Finally, I do wish to say that we need to be aware of the environment that we are living in and existing around us, the prevailing practices in other Coop Societies, and the Changes that are taking place in Society throughout the Country , and accordingly decide our affairs.
    Our PRIORITIES should be STRUCTURAL HEALTH of our BUILDINGS , and ASSURED FIRE SAFETY of our DWELLINGS. The latter is on the verge of being achieved. The former requires a more innovative approach and shedding old and traditional methods of repair and structural preservation and protection. Cheers,
    Cmde Arun Pandit E404

    1. Dear Cmde Pandit Sir,

      I have had high regards for you ever since you trained us at the Tactical Trainer in Mumbai. You have a non-confrontational, balanced-headed, and remarkably calm way of looking at things. I do remember that even in the Tactical Trainer, when you had to bring out our mistakes, you preceded these with appreciation of the good things that we had done.

      I am now increasingly sure that in our Society too there are right-minded people who have seen the enormous damage caused by the previously prevalent confrontational attitude that had become a way of life here. However, there are still some people (however small their number may be) who still bask in the self-important, egotist and confrontational approach. They feel that the present MC has let loose an atmosphere of indiscipline and condoning all wrongs done by earlier defaulters (which is not the case, I know that. Their approach is to continue harping on the point that they did everything right and hence their regime should be perpetuated one way or the other.

      I appreciate your approach. At your age you didn’t have to do this but you stood for the elections for the Management Committee solely with the idea of contributing usefully to the welfare of the society.

      I am hopeful that even these handful of people who are hellbent on creating rifts so as to flaunt their usefulness and correctness shall see the light of the day and we should be able to put harmony, peace and trust as the most important needs of the hour in our Society.

      Regards,
      Ravi