Smart Cities

Monday Musings: Not so ‘smart’ city?

Incessant rains during the last few weeks created havoc in Pune. The roads were waterlogged, traffic snarls remain a perennial problem with potholes everywhere further extending the travel time, and walking through footpaths free of hawkers is now only a nostalgia for residents. As if these problems weren’t enough, most areas of Pune suffer from power outages and water cuts every week.

For a place categorised as a smart city under the Centre’s plan, the on-ground situation in Pune contradicts what is being painted by politicians and bureaucrats. It shows the city is far from being ‘smart.’

At least Rs3,000 crore was spent on various civic works under Smart City Mission in Pune at a time when the basic infrastructure of this expanding city is in shambles. What is achieved under the project is mostly cosmetic changes here and there and key issues remain unattended.

The civic body has mostly utilised the funds in specific areas while revamping footpaths in central parts. However, most of Pune’s roads are still of tar and prone to potholes. Adding to this problem every year is road digging work undertaken by various agencies right before and after the monsoon. Unless the roads are made potholes-free with storm water and drainage lines having to carry capacity in consonance with rainfall and sewage generation that the city witnesses, the roads will continue to flood and create problems for commuters.

If the traffic problem in Pune needs to be addressed, there is no alternative to robust public transport. Pune has grown leaps and bounds in the past two decades even as its public transport hasn’t moved with the times.

If the tongas and bicycles were popular modes of transport to travel in the city, cars and two-wheeler have taken their place. From tongas to bicycles, to buses, trains and now Metro rail, the city’s transport services have finally come of age, but people’s traffic woes have remained constant.

It is mainly because of weak bus service and the delayed and partial implementation of Metro rail. In 1950, the public transport bus service was started by the Pune Nagarpalika under Pune Municipal Transport (PMT) in compliance with the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporations (BPMC) Act, 1949. It was the first-ever public transport service started within the city with 57 buses plying 14 routes when the city’s population was less than half a million.

More than seven decades later, the population has grown to over seven million (including Pimpri-Chinchwad and cantonments) but the number of buses has grown to 2,000 and half of them suffer breakdowns and are awaiting maintenance. The bus service is key to Pune which has roads spreading over 1,400 kilometres.

For long distances and routes with high footfall, the Metro rail is key. However, unless the agencies executing the Metro rail project complete the network on existing corridors and expand it to proposed ones, this mass transport system is unlikely to attract commuters. Recently, Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation (Maha-Metro) held a detailed presentation before the municipal corporation for Pune Metro’s phase 2 plan which proposes to cover 200 km length for the Metro project. It includes Neo Metro on the proposed 43-kilometre High Capacity Mass Transit Route (HCMTR) in Pune and 31 km in Pimpri-Chinchwad.

No matter how good these projects appear on paper, unless they are executed, their effectiveness of it will only be known then.

At the same time, people also need to share a large responsibility to make life easier for everyone. This means the people of Pune have to follow rules. During elections, they need to vote judiciously in large numbers and post that, question rulers if the promises made are not fulfilled.


    Yogesh Joshi is Assistant Editor at Hindustan Times. He covers politics, security, development and human rights from Western Maharashtra.

If the traffic problem in Pune needs to be addressed, there is no alternative to robust public transport. Pune has grown leaps and bounds in the past two decades even as its public transport hasn’t moved with the times.


Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button