Just Not Smart Enough To Understand This Smart City

JM Road, Pune
Image: ITDP India Image used for representation only

I really shouldn’t be reading newspapers.

Or watching news channels, for that matter. Doing either of these things does not provide me with more information, puzzles me endlessly about the world we live in, and often raises my blood pressure to levels that would greatly excite Big Pharma. And that’s on the good days.

Still, old habits die hard.

There you are, waiting in a clinic, or sitting in the waiting room of some office or the other, with nothing to do, and you pick up a newspaper (against better, self-given counsel) and start reading.

And just the other day, I did what I shouldn’t, and I started reading.

And I read a fairly interesting headline. I quote it here in its entirety: “ Ganesh Chaturthi: PMC, cops may take off pavement corner for smooth visarjan”. Regular readers are no doubt aware of my deep interest in pavements, roads and the lack of public transport in Pune City, and might therefore understand my antennae perking up a little bit. And so (against better, self-given counsel), I read on.

Having built a smart pavement on JM Road a while ago, and beautified the whole thing in the process, the PMC had been patting itself on the back for a while.

My workplace being very close to JM Road, I have had a chance to see the newly constructed pavement, and I agree wholeheartedly with the PMC. It really is beautiful, and an improvement over what went before.

The only problem, and one that I happened to have mentioned in passing before, is that this leaves considerably lesser space for vehicular traffic – which also would be fine, if only we had many more buses and far lesser private vehicles.

But this particular headline had deeper, more perplexing conundrums for us to ponder.

The narrower road, it turns out, wasn’t wide enough to allow the visarjan procession to go through.

And the solution that the PMC came up with, in response to a terse request from the police department (whose headache it would have become during those two days of the visarjan), was to break off a part of the pavement that they had constructed.

Not only break it off, it turns out, but also barricade it for the rest of the year, rendering it useless to both traffic and pedestrians. But, the article went on to reassure us readers, the barricading would be done in such a way that it would blend in with the beautification already done.

Ah well, that’s ok then – no problem at all. So long as it is useless and looks good – that’s the part that we were worried about anyway.

And so we will now have a narrower road, a narrower footpath, and a part of the road that cannot be used 363 days in the year. The only time it will be used is when the rest of the road isn’t open to vehicular traffic in the first place.

Smart isn’t a good enough adjective for our city, I say.

Impenetrable Genius City, I’d suggest. That fits.

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#All views expressed in this column are those of the author 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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