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July 21, 2009

Proposal for a Dwelling – An ecological gated community in Bangalore

I do not know if this is desperation, or if this is strategic thinking. I am writing this in a bid to gather like-minded people who respect nature and can plan on staying together on a common area along the lines of a gated community. Yes, I know we have the private gated communities and BDA complexes, and oh yes – we also have rental accommodation. But nothing lets us live in a sustainable, ecological, vibrant community that respects nature and enjoys it.

I and Jyostna have been looking for land in Bangalore for quite sometime, and the options are not yet perfect. In too many locations, we have seen that builders focus on “herd mentality”. Land changes hands frequently with people mainly aiming for profit and not really looking at it as a place that can sustain life. Living has become equivalent to spoiling nature and living against it. Gated communities boast facilities like swimming pools which one hardly ever uses; they are too small to be of any value. But most seem to replicate a different place and are totally out of place with our reality (My blog post on Palm meadows in a desert). While even the human species needs to survive like any other, we believe it is possible to organize our own place in this measly planet of ours.

A possible option we are looking at:
Gather together a few like minded folks and obtain property on the fringes of BLR; for example 4 people buy one acre and we have ~10,000 sq foot plots for each family. Each family builds a house on 2000 sq. foot of their land and leaves the rest open. Rely as little as possible on external resources, and share some resources such as wind energy, well, security, ground-water recharging. Not quite Navadarshanam, but regular 9-5 working people who want to be close to nature and lead a calm life. The goal would be to live in harmony with nature, but retain several urban comforts. If it becomes really feasible, we could implement a gobar gas plant and other such, but that would be a stretch goal.

What it would entail:
In terms of money:
One acre of land about 10-15 Kms from Bangalore costs 48 lakhs. I have some options that I can talk about. If four families share one acre, the cost will be 12 lakhs per family. For 1,400 rupees per square feet, it is possible to construct a house that will be ecologically sensitive, and have among other features, it’s own sewage disposal and water harvesting. I have some figures from firms that do ecological designs of homes. For a 2000 square foot home, that would mean about 28 lakhs. The total seems about 40 lakhs. But with registration, electric connection, size of house, delays and other factors minimum-maximum cost could be 45-60 lakhs.

In terms of personal commitment:
Mutual respect that we will not violate building standards and not succumb to selling our respective 10,000 sq. feet of property in the form of parcels when the surrounding areas “develop”.

Best case scenario to make this happen:

20-25 families will participate in this, and we shall have a very vibrant community.
4-5 families will participate in this and they will have a nice place to stay.

BTW, we are not real-estate agents, we do not have experience in doing this. We think this is very difficult, we have a whole bunch of optimism, but we think the outcome is worth the effort. This is a five-hundred foot idea; the exact details can be worked out if and when folks think this is feasible. Comments are welcome.

What are we planning to do if this does not work:
Get a 40×60 plot in a decent locality in Bangalore, have an independent house. We may even have to revert to a gated community :(.

Comments are welcome.
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