Smart Cities Cannot Afford To Get Myopic With Their Planning

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With the orchestrated quest to make Pune a smart city, we seem to have forgotten the need to plan for the future and work towards making Pune a truly sustainable model city.  

With a population that doubles in less than a decade, the only solution is to work on planning that is both futuristic and fool-proof.

Pune’s prominent activists unanimously state that the real battle we are faced with is the city’s short-sightedness to finding solutions for the critical problems faced. 

Sharing his opinion, Vijay Kumbhar, Journalist and prominent RTI activist, President of Surajya Sangharsh Samiti, says, “We do not pay heed to long term plans for the city.

The development plan of Pune city was charted in 1987, but it took ten years for it to sanction, and consequently we worked on just 65% of the plan.

The reason is clearly the lack of in-depth research to work on long term plans for population managment, availability of resources, planning of roads and public transport, alternative energy sources etc.

The problem is also at the citizen level. Everyone wants development yet will not compromise on anything. The authorities on the other hand look for only immediate solutions and not from a macro perspective of the city’s future.

As citizens we need to feel the emotion and ownership of our nation. We still believe that it is only the responsibilities of bureaucrats, politicians and authorities to work for our welfare.

After all, we are the ones polluting the environment, encroaching open spaces and exploiting the resources. It is important that we as people of the nation get over this mentality and start believing that this is our country and we we can bring the change we want to see,” adds Kumbhar.

“The major issues in Pune are traffic, transportation and garbage. Neither bureaucrats nor politicians or citizens are serious enough to think about long term solutions to these problems,” opines Civic activist and founder Sajag Nagrik Manch, Vivek Velankar.

“For traffic the solution is a top quality, reliable and affordable public transport system. The only lifeline for public transport in Pune is currently the bus service which is as good as dead..

They work on only short term solutions by bringing new buses and scrapping some old ones, ignoring the need to completely revamp all the buses. This requires a one-time investment that no one seems interested in.  

However, our citizens are also at fault here. Instead of putting pressure on the authorities, they have come up with a short sighted approach of buying their own vehicles.

This is the reason why there are more vehicles than people in Pune! Obviously, this creates issues like traffic congestion, pollution and related health concerns, yet, little attention is paid to it. Even garbage segregation at source is still a huge problem, despite the Supreme Court’s mandate on this.

Change can happen only through us. Unfortunately, most people do not want to take any effort and expect someone else to work for them. The authorities end up taking advantage of this by bringing in more and more projects that their eco-system earns from!

This is a vicious circle and needs to be broken by Puneites to ensure the people in power put effective long term sustainable plans in place for the city,” adds Velankar.

Adding to this, Ranjit Gadgil, Programme Director – Parisar feels, “Most cities in the world have a strategic long-term plan to deal with the expansion of the city and deliver on the needs of the population, ensure economic growth, environmental sustainability and tackle urban poverty etc.

The problem here is that these plans are quite deficient. The right experts aren’t involved during the planning process, secondly the plans are not properly implemented and lastly the people are not aware of these plans.

Our people do not demand answers as to why these plans are not being implemented.

Our city ignores long term planning and is unfortunately only focussed on short-term measures that may end up in compounding the problems in the future. However, one is seeing some interest in the development plans and its implementation,” Gadgil adds

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Loveleen Kaur

Loveleen Kaur

She loves travelling, dogs, sarcasm, humour and anything that spells F O O D, in that order. A writer on a journey to make positive stories a morning ritual and give society what it needs the most - optimism !!

Reach her at loveleen@pune365.com or tweet @KaurKaur18
Loveleen Kaur

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