In an embarrassing development, the Maha Metro’s application for allowing the Pune Metro alignment from Civic Court to Ramwadi has been rejected by the National Monuments Authority (NMA).
The NMA, at a meeting recently, said the proposal to run along Nagar road has been rejected since this section lies within the prohibited area of the Aga Khan Palace.
As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958, which was amended in 2010, no construction of any kind is allowed within 100 metres of a nationally protected monument.
Aga Khan Palace was declared a nationally protected monument in 2003.
In 2016 the Bombay High Court, in a petition filed by city-based NGO Parisar had made it clear that construction of the Metro project should not proceed without getting permission from the National Monuments Authority.
Despite this, the Maha Metro went ahead and awarded the tender for construction of the Civil Court to Ramwadi section on August 2. With the rejection of permission to construct the Metro along Nagar road abutting the Aga Khan Palace, the project is likely to be hit by further delays and cost escalation.
“Maha Metro decided to gamble with public funds by obstinately continuing to push the construction along Nagar road despite the fact that it was very clear that they will violate the prohibited area of the Aga Khan Palace,” said Ranjit Gadgil of Parisar.
“This had been brought to their notice many times and the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had also made a commitment to the Bombay High Court. The National Monuments Authority is bound by the provisions of the AMASR Act, and they simply cannot allow any construction within 100 metres of the Aga Khan Palace,” he added.
“Maha Metro has to answer the public of Pune as to why they decided to break the law, the consequences of which will have to be borne by the people of Pune, who are ultimately bearing the cost of this project,” added Sujit Patwardhan.
“The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) who planned the Pune Metro have faced similar hurdles while constructing the Metro in Delhi and had to change their alignment many times to avoid going close to ancient monuments,” said Prashant Inamdar, who has called into question the planning of the Metro in Pune right from the beginning.
“They do not seem to have learnt from their mistakes. Because of their overconfidence the people of Pune will suffer,” he added.
The PMC has also been pushing for a flyover on Nagar road, even though the Metro is supposed to ease traffic and shift people from cars to public transport. All such plans will now have to be re-considered.
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