#FCRoad: When Urban Planning Gets Truly Befuddling

F C Road, Pune
Image: tripadvisor

They are narrowing Fergusson College Road.

That the Pune Municipal Corporation moves in mysterious ways its wonders to perform is a fact universally acknowledged. Its awareness (I’m playing with the boundaries of the English language here) of Pune’s infrastructural limitations, its ideas (I’ve left the boundaries far, far behind) about how to go about changing these limitations for the better, and the speed at which these decisions have been implemented have been the cause of befuddlement, angst and mirth among Puneris for decades. But in this case, they have outdone themselves.

Allow me, dear reader, to explain.

Now, I should state at the outset that I am not an urban planner, in either an academic or practical sense. Sure, I read the occasional book about urban planning, but that is as a matter of curiosity. So perhaps I am barking up the wrong tree, and feel free to correct me if that is the case. Second, I think about the world in terms of analogies. A useful analogy for thinking about politicians and votes is by comparing it to businessmen and quarterly revenues – and you’d be surprised at how far that analogy can take you.

That being said, here is how I think about roads, and why I think the current shenanigans at Fergusson College Road are a particularly bad idea.

Roads – I think of them as arteries. This is by no means an original thought, but it is a useful one. And I’m no expert in medicine either, but it is helpful to me to think of parking on the side of the road as plaque in arteries. Plaque is the stuff that builds up along the walls of the arteries, and reduces blood flow, and that is never a good thing.

Further, I think of buses as blood thinners. Buses pack in magnitudes more people in them when compared to a bike or a car, and that allows more people to pass through on roads in a given time.

So, if you’re still with me, a good way to deal with plaque in arteries would be to either remove the plaque, or thin the blood, or both. This, even to you and I, non-specialists in medicine, would make sense, right?

And we would, you and I, be wary of a doctor who looked at plaque-clogged arteries and said “Ah hah! I have an idea! Let’s make these arteries narrower.”

But our dear old corporation, moving in ways that grow more mysterious by the day, has done precisely this. Fergusson College Road, according to their infinite wisdom, is better off narrower. As is, in their esteemed opinion, Jangli Maharaj Road.

But it’s not just the fact that these roads are narrower. They’re narrower by the process of making the footpaths broader. Now, I’m all for wider walkways – god knows we need to walk more, and a more comfortable walking path is a very welcome thing.

But the thing is, their process of making the footpath broader is not by augmenting the current one – it’s by tearing up the whole thing and replacing it altogether.

Footpath on F C Road, Pune
Image: travelmyglobe

We’ve all accused the PMC of various things over the years, but never once did we accuse it of moving swiftly, and the latest assault on Fergusson College Road is no exception. And it goes without saying that the whole jamboree has been carefully timed to start with the onset of the monsoon. Suffice it to say that the traffic in the evening would have made Dante nod in approval.

Befuddlement, angst and mirth.

What else have we got?

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#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them. 

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish Kulkarni

Ashish is a confirmed Punekar, which guarantees eternal undying love for the city, but also mandates an incurable sense of cynicism about it.

He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
Ashish Kulkarni

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