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Nagpurians’ residential preferences are moving beyond Ramdaspeth and Civil Lines: Virendra Khare

Virendra Khare
Architect Virendra Khare (Photo: Darshan Bagwe)

Architect Virendra Khares grandfather worked as the first Indian post master in Nagpur during the British rule in India, and his father, a mechanical engineer by education, worked as a pilot with Royal British Air Force, before starting his own factory in Nagpur. Hailing from a family full of engineers, Virendra Khare also wanted to become an engineer but life had different plans for him and he accidentally became an architect in 1978. He obviously can’t have any regrets for that as today, he is one of the most sought-after and respected architects in central India. An alumnus of Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology (VNIT), Khare is the proprietor of V K Associates, which he formed in 1979. The firm renders services like urban planning, architectural designing, architectural interiors and project management. His 38 years of professional journey is adorned with an impressive battery of work, which includes a lot of famous buildings in Nagpur i.e. Hotel Radisson Blu and Landmark building on Wardha Road, Mangalam Marvel at Times Square, Software Technology Parks of India at IT Park, etc. Virendra Khare founded VKA Infra Pvt. Ltd. in 2009 to foray into construction with Enrico Heights (a joint venture with Jaipurias) – one of the most ambitious residential cum commercial projects in Nagpur. In a freewheeling chat with Nation Next, architect Virendra Khare speaks about his professional outlook, his pet projects and the city he loves – Nagpur. Excerpts:

You started your career as an architect when civil engineers would only double up as architects in Nagpur…

My father was an engineer and I wanted to follow his footsteps. So, I took admission in Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology (MANIT), Bhopal to study mechanical engineering but I had to come back as there were some law and order issues there in those times. I then attended VNIT (then VRC), where I had got admission in architecture department. So, initially it wasn’t really by choice. I graduated in architecture in 1978 from VNIT and started practicing from 1979. Later, I also did my M-Tech in Urban Planning in 1989. In those days, there wasn’t much awareness about architecture course; it was just engineering which was given a lot of importance. There was not much of requirement for an architect as during those days people wanted everything to be simple and nobody would go to the professionals. It is now that people’s choices have changed and they want everything to be done professionally.

You are perceived to be one of the busiest architects of Nagpur and now you have taken up new joint venture construction projects like Enrico Heights, Urbane Woods, a residential project at Ganesh Peth, etc. Isn’t it a bit too much on your plate?

Everybody should be aware about what their potential is and how much a person can work. The thing with me is that I haven’t still understood my potential and that’s why I cannot decline anything, which comes my way. Hence, I go on accepting projects, which fall in my kitty, if I like them. It’s true that I’m so busy that I’m not able to spend time with my family but I love to work.

What do you love the most – Architecture or Construction?

I always feel that I should create good architecture, good aesthetics and comfortable utility areas for people at large. Not many know that after studying architecture, I started my career as a builder first, then switched over to being a professional. Now again I am working as a builder.

Is there something like fashion in architecture design? Or is it just about the tastes and preferences

Fashion in design basically depends on the material we use, but at the same time fashion has a shelf life and anything can go out of fashion anytime. The best option is to use materials and designs, which are trendy yet evergreen. Fashion has a shelf life in architectural design but the class is everlasting! People’s tastes and preferences are often shaped up by their budgets. While people see their low budget as a hindrance to everything they wish to implement, sometimes the elite class feels inexpensive is not classy. Then, they pressurise the architects to choose something costly. The truth is while a lot of superb designs can be made in a very low budget, you don’t necessarily get the quality by only infusing money. Everything depends upon how a client feels and that helps us decide better.

Talking about preferences, many builders complain that Nagpurians have a diehard fetish for specific residential areas like Ramdaspeth, Civil Lines, Dharampeth, Byramji Town, etc.

Traditionally, people do stick to limited areas in Nagpur due to lack of resources on the outskirts of the city. Builders will have to cater to people’s needs to change their  perception. As a residential architect with projects like Ensara Metro Park and Tata’s Capitol Heights, I see things changing for better. Despite Ensara Metro Park being located on the outskirts, people are buying property there, not because we are offering a lavish lifestyle there but because we offering a comfortable environment for all age groups so that none of the family members feel that there is nothing for them there.

Nagpur has quite a few ancient buildings. If you ever get a chance to re-construct one of these building, which will it be and why?

I’m in love with Nagpur and its architectural heritage like High Court, Railway station etc. These buildings were constructed some 100 years back but they’ll stand like this for next 400 years! These structures score hundred marks on both aesthetics and sustainability. This is because the materials used for the construction of these buildings are natural and don’t age easily. This is why these older buildings have a much stronger and sustainable construction quality than the the ones that have been recently built.

What advice would you give to budding architects

Act responsible, create a sustainable architecture and also beget an environment which is worth living to pass on the next generation.

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Governance

Dharavi redevelopment to have dedicated areas for manufacturing: Devendra Fadnavis

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi redevelopment will have dedicated areas for manufacturing…

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

Devendra Fadnavis

The Mah Deputy CM says that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

As Dharavi redevelopment has been announced, doubts were raised on whether this locally evolved entrepreneurial hub will retain its spirit.  In a chat on Sansad TV with Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council and a writer, on an Economic Sutra episode telecast on Nov 6, the Deputy Chief Minister had made it very clear how he foresees the future of Dharavi and Mumbai.

Saying that his government worked on clearing all the bottlenecks, he adds, “We understood that unless we have a place to rehabilitate people, which is nearby Dharavi, this project will not take off. We found out that there is around 42 acres of land which belongs to the Railways. We approached the Central Government and told them that we’ll free up your land. We’ll buy your land and we’ll give you a share in the profit and we entered into a definitive agreement and now they have handed it over to us.”

“The Dharavi Redevelopment project will be the most unique project ever done. In fact, this redevelopment was visualized by none other than Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 but nothing happened – until 2014 when Modiji came and we started governing Maharashtra. The redevelopment will be no less beautiful than BKC. Dharavi is just not a slum but it’s also a great manufacturing cluster, so what we did was that while planning this scheme we have created areas for this entire manufacturing industry along with planning for the rehabilitation of the people. Right now, this entire manufacturing sector is informal, but after this and over time they will come into the formal sector.”

Watch the full interaction here: https://youtu.be/FNeTrm0v0dw

Also, with Mumbai undergoing so many infrastructural changes, questions have been raised about retaining the quintessential character of “aamchi Mumbai,” which apart from being the financial capital of India is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant cities.

Speaking on the land issues, Fadnavis says, “The usable space in Mumbai is very little. It has length, but has limitations on the breadth so taking into consideration all these problems we wanted to design a very robust system for Mumbai for commuters and for vehicles. That’s why the all the new Coastal Road, which will decongest the western side of Mumbai. It will be a ring road type structure along the coast and this Western Expressway carries 60 percent of the Mumbai traffic right, so all that traffic will be mostly accommodated here.”

Commuting in Mumbai is a killer and every day Mumbaikars spend a lot of time on travel. Saying that he wants to reduce travel within Mumbai from anywhere to anywhere to an hour, Fadnavis explains, “Our Metro three is a very unique 40 kilometers of underground Network, which will be the lifeline of Mumbai. It is estimated to carry around 1.7 million passengers per day! All this work will be finished in two or three years and I want that from any place to any place in Mumbai one should reach within less than one hour – that is the planning. We are also trying to integrate the transportation system. Right now, our Suburban Railway is the lifeline of Mumbai. This Suburban Railway carries around 9 million passengers. The new Metro Network which we are creating will be carrying around 7 million or 8 million passengers, almost doubling the current number.”

Adding to this, the Deputy CM says that the 22 kilometers of Sea Bridge that will connect us to the hinterland, “so we have Mumbai, we have new Mumbai and that will be the third Mumbai that will be a land mass which will be bigger than Mumbai with new Mumbai airport. I think the future growth of Mumbai is on that side!”

Also read: Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Governance

Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm…

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm.

Dharavi

Is squalor for cameras, money more important than dignified living for the residents…  

Former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy’s Dharavi comments kicked off a storm when he said on Twitter that Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, ‘is not actually a slum but a tribute to the great entrepreneurial spirit of the weakest and smallest person fighting for his or her livelihood in Mumbai. It is also a model in collective coexistence in one of the toughest cities in the world, where nothing else matters. Not caste. Not faith. Not where you come from. But trust and togetherness.’

While this may be true, what is equally true is the squalor and subhuman conditions that reign supreme in this slum. Netizens felt that Nandy, by romanticizing poverty in this manner, was only feeding poverty porn and tourism. Nandy clarified that he was seeking to keep the spirit of Dharavi alive by “researching the architectural grammar, the cultural history that builds integrated and interdependent societies like Dharavi that have survived and flourished over decades and make that the base for the new redevelopment plans. Not just look at the future but also build in the past.”

The Maharashtra Government had on November 29, opened the financial bids for Dharavi redevelopment project.  While 3 companies Adani Realty, DLF and Naman Group had submitted bids, the Adani Group clinched the project with a INR 5,069-crore bid. The timeline for the entire redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, might take close to 17 years, the rehabilitation of slum dwellers should be complete in seven years. 

Also read: Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Crime

Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai
The Bombay High Court said ex-minister Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues.

Anil Deshmukh

The Bombay High Court said, as per prima facie, 74-year-old former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, said that when Deshmukh’s bail plea was moved on medical grounds, then a fresh medical report needed to be called for. 

Singh said, “There is a compilation that has been given now. There are medical papers attached. We need to go through it. Even though this is not a bail application on merit of the case, it is still being circulated under medical issues. He is getting medical treatment as required. Moreover, medical issues are not static. We need a check on what his condition is right now.”

Deshmukh’s advocate Vikram Chaudhari said the senior NCP leader was being treated but has been suffering from several ailments that require constant treatment and care. Chaudhary said, ”He needs to be released. He is a chronic patient.”

Justice MS Karnik said that the court would hear the bail plea on merits. He said, “I am satisfied that we can proceed with the hearing on merits and give it priority. This is my prima facie opinion that priority should be given. One of the medical ailments (that Deshmukh is suffering from) is degenerative.” Deshmukh’s bail plea would now be heard on December 6.

The bench asked Singh whether he was ready to argue on the merits of the case immediately, to which Singh said he would require a week while Chaudhari said that he was ready to argue. However, Justice Karnik said, “We need to give them a fair opportunity.”

Also read: 10 lakh spectators across 50 km; PM Modi makes history with road show for BJP in Ahmedabad

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