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.
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.
Here are some of the issues that should really be worthy of our consideration in order that JVDE should become an ideal society:
- Water re-cycling.
- Rainwater harvesting.
- Waste management leading to composting and zero waste.
- Long term structural issues of buildings.
- 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.
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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