Tuesday, 7 July 2015


Since the recent past, people have been increasingly concerned about Vaastu in the purchase of real estate, be it a site, a house, a flat, commercial or industrial space. The promoters also have taken the cue and now proclaim that every block and every flat has been designed by them as per Vaastu principles no matter which direction they face!

A businessman has to pander to the customer's taste and the latest craze has to be accommodated. However, many of the buyers are from middle and upper class and educated. Yet, they seem to be less concerned about the pollution or living removed from nature. One of my relatives wanted to buy some space near Bangalore's Anandrao Circle for business purpose. He was trying to find out a block, which conforms to Vaastu. We told him Anandrao Circle is one of the most polluted areas of the city, with respect to air quality, noise and dirt.

As he was going to spend at least 8 to 10 hours in his office he might as well find a space at some of the better surroundings if location from the business point of view is not that important. Fortunately, he took our advice.

There was another, a rich person, who wanted to buy a flat In prestigious residential block in the busy section of Chowdiah road. We told him that the location he has chosen is most unsuitable for living purpose. He and his family, and perhaps the generation next have to live with health hazards. We told him of our experience of living in Curzon Road Apartment in New Delhi which is very near to India Gate but just a kilometer down wind from Rajghat thermal power station. All the members of my family had respiratory trouble as long as we lived there. In addition, we had to wipe off thick black soot that would accumulate on every sill, shelf and comers. But he went ahead, bought the flat and now he IS complaining. 

We have a few relatives who live next to suburban rail corridor in Mumbai. If you visit them and want to speak to them, you have to shout because they have lost the power of hearing soft spoken words. With the prospects of increasing pollution of every kind those who have a desire for healthy working and living, who have money to purchase flats or build houses, should prepare a checklist for selection of the site and a blue print for providing themselves with green space. Realtors can also examine development from this angle because they acquire large tracts of land, develop and sell them. There could be a growing lucrative market in this segment. One could take lessons from the organically grown health food market, which now commands premium in West and in some of our metros.

We are neither proponents nor opponents ofVaastu. If some stressed minds find solace in houses built on Vaastu principle let them have their way because after all they are the paymasters. But in Vaastu Shastra, like in all our sacred books, nuggets of truth are buried In tons of exaggeration and superstition. It is just like an ordinary man who after reading Ramayana conceives Ravana as a man with 10 heads. Why the sage chose to shape Ravana so grotesquely? 

Whether it was a poetic liberty of stressing not so good mental attributes of the person might be understood by a few scholars. Our views about the design of a development are that 'it should try to integrate as much of nature inside the development as possible. A building should be able to breathe and sufficient air and light should filter in. Dust and noise should be kept out according Sanjay Mohe, much respected architectural head of Messrs Chandavarker and Thacker.

Many advanced countries of the West, business organizations and enlightened citizens elsewhere, including India, are putting their heads together as to how to rein in increasing pollution, preserve nature and also proceed with development and business. A new discipline known as "Environmental Management" has emerged. Governments and reputed business houses are funding re- search in area of sustainable devel- opment wherein both manufacture and industrial aspect and preserva- tion of nature can go hand in hand. Money is also being spent on pro- moting awareness among industri- alists and businessmen. Various recognized associations and groups have issued codes of practice for environmental management. One such issued by The International Chamber of Commerce - Business Charter for Sustainable Develop- ment, should be of interest for Realtors. An extract is reproduced below.

"Sustainable development 10 volves meeting the needs of the present without comprorrusmg the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Economic growth provides the conditions in which protection of the environment can best be achieved and environmental protection, in balance with other human goals, is necessary to achieve growth that is sustainable. 

In turn, versatile, dynamic, responsive and profitable business are required as driving force for sustainable economic development and providing managerial, technical and financial resources to contribute to the resolution of environmental challenges. Market economics, characterized by entrepreneurial initiatives are essential to achieve this. 

Making market forces work in this way to protect and improve the quality of the environment - with the help of performance based standards and judicious use of economic instruments in a harmonious framework - is one of the greatest challenges that the world faces in the next decade. 

The world commission Environ- mental and Development "Our Common Future" express the same challenges and calls for the co- operation of business in tackling it. To this end, business leaders have launched actions in their individual enterprises as well as sectoral and cross-sectoral associations.

In order that more businesses join the effort and that their environ- mental performances continue to improve, the International Chamber of Commerce hereby calls upon enterprises and their associations to use the following principles as a basis of pursuing such improvement and to express, publicly, their support for them. Individual programs developed to implement these principles will reflect the wide diversity among enterprises inside and function.

The objective is that the widest range of enterprises commit themselves to improving their environmental performance 10 accordance with the principles, to having in place management practices to effect improvement, to measuring their progress and to reporting their progress as appropriate, internally and externally.

Corporate priority 

To recognize environmental management as among the highest priorities and as a key determinant to suitable development, to establish policies, programs, and practices for conducting operations in an environmentally sound manner. 

Integrated management 

To integrate these policies, programs and practices fully into each business as an essential element of management in all its functions. 

Process Improvement 

To continue to improve corporate policies, programs and environmental performance, taking into account technical developments, scientific understanding, consumer needs and community expectations.

Employee Education 

To educate, train and motivate employees to conduct their activi- ties in an environmentally respon- sible manner. 

Prior Assessment 

To assess environmental impacts before starting a new activity or project or before decommissioning and leaving the site. 

Products and Services 

To develop and provide products and services that have no undue environmental impact and are safe in their intended use, that are efficient in their consumption of energy and natural resources and that can be recycled, reused or disposed off safely. 

Customer Advice 

To advice, where relevant, educate customers, distributors and public in the safe use, transportation, storage and disposal of products provided and to apply similar considerations to the provision of services. 

Facilities and Operations 

To develop design and operate facilities and conduct activities taking into consideration to efficient use of renewable resources, the minimization of adverse environmental impact on the environment and waste generation and the safe and responsible disposal of residential wastes. 

Contribute to common efforts 

To contribute to the development of public and to business, governmental and intergovernmental programs and educational initiatives that will enhance environmental awareness and protection. 

Compliance and reporting 

To measure environmental performance, to conduct regular environmental audits and assessments of compliance with company requirements, legal requirements and periodically to produce appropriate information to all concerned. The above extract contains only matters that are relevant to real estate development. 

A good health is most precious gift of nature. In our efforts to build townships and houses for living, we must take care not to disturb the ecology of the place, design to facilitate our working and living as close to nature as possible and keep out the polluting atmosphere. If you get a good architect or an engineer who is committed to sustainable development, it is possible to realize this aim. One of the authors of this article had attended a course on building physics conducted by Central Building Research Institute as back in 1962. 

The course dealt mostly on energy conservation and use of natural climate to one's advantage. In the past three decades, there has been a growing awareness to recognize the need for espousing the cause for sustainable development. Knowledge in this area has expanded. So getting a sound advice, which will be economical too should not be difficult.

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