When Pune clinched the Smart City status in the first round in 2015, it got a sanction of Rs.4,000 crore (upto 2019) to develop it to international standards in terms of public amenities, environment and holistic development.
Five years down the line, it remains a mirage
If promises are meant to be broken, then the Pune Smart City Project takes the cake. Identifying the better developed neighbourhood of Aundh-Baner-Balewadi Ward to splurge a whopping Rs.4,000 crore in five years’ time frame between 2015-2019, it was to morph into one of the best neighbourhoods in the world to live in.
It has instead showcased the true colours of the Pune Municipal Corporation officials and the local political leaders who are known since decades, to keep Pune in a paralysed state of affairs. Indeed, the money spent has gone down the drain and the money unspent remains an impressive number on paper, rather on the civic authorities website!
Civic and RTI activist Vivek Velankar dug out some facts that highlight how casually the ‘powers that be’ take on a project that has the power to transform the city for the better.
His incisive information is the base of my column today.
In order to get the Smart City status, a citizen survey was conducted as to which areas should the project focus on to improve Pune. Apparently, according to official figures, 1.5 lakh citizens took part in it and another 13 lakh citizens provided their opinion and views on it in writing.
Now, says Velankar, `one suspects this was an eyewash to get the smart city status.’’ As per the survey findings, the focus of Pune to get smarter was was to be on six aspects – traffic management and movement; water supply; sewage treatment plants to be made fully efficient; solid waste management; strengthening environment; citizen security and; solar power.
In order to make one ward as a model, in this five year period, it was decided to spend Rs.3000 crore.
Curiously, the civic body, NGOs and experts in unison, chose Aundh-Baner-Balewadi ward as the experimental ward since it is one of the best managed wards with good public amenities. However, says, Velankar, `what is intriguing is that when this ward is anyway a model one, why should Rs.3000 crore be spent again there?
It is laudable that citizens from Kondhwa to Warje and Yerawada sacrificed development in their ward for the sake of Aundh-Baner-Balewadi for which Rs.1470 crore for traffic management and movement; Rs.350 crore for sewage treatment; Rs. 70 crore for solid waste management; Rs.500 crore for solar energy; Rs.220 crore for riverside development and public amenities in open spaces; Rs.170 crore for slum rehabilitation; Rs.200 crore for e-governance and intelligent systems – were to be spent.’’
Hence, it is pertinent to take stock of what has been done with this public money.
Traffic movement and management: the PMPML buses were to be installed with GPS; information on bus timings through mobile App, Smart Bus Stops, making 391 pedestrian signals like the ones in Western countries. Not a single commitment has been met and the timing schedules of buses is still left to the mercy of God!
Water supply and Sewage treatment: Pilot District Meter Areas (DMA) for 24X7 Water; 44 Bulk Meters; 45 Helium water leak identification in an area of 2688 kms, 46 Smart Commercial Meters, 47 Smart Domestic Meters, 48 Customer Mapping and Survey, 49 Naidu STP Energy Generation and zero untreated sewage into the rivers. It is amusing to note that not even ten per cent of the commitment has been met, observes Velankar.
In order to make Aundh-Baner-Balewadi, one of the best neighbourhoods to live in, in the world, the following facilities were to come up between 2015 and 2019:
- 750 multi-storeyed car park
- 100 Electric buses and 100 e-rickshaws
- Development of 54 smart bus stops
- Smart water metering for residential homes and commercial spaces
- Assurance of 150 litre per person water per day
- 100% solid waste disposal, recycle and reuse
- Renovation of 74 public toilets
- 37 kms of international class river development
- Two new fire engine station
- 100% cc tv scan through their installation
- Constructing four new schools and three public hospital
- Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar slum rehabilitation on 2.25 acres
- Wi-fi in the entire Aundh-Baner-Balewadi Ward and laying of optic fibre cables
- Multi-storeyed parking on 10 acre land
- Increasing use of public transport from 18% to 40%
- Increasing passenger use in public transport from 18% to 40%
- Installing rainwater harvesting system in 100% of the houses
- Bringing down inadequate water supply which is in 70% of the houses now, to 0%
- 100% door-to-door garbage collection
- Increasing open space from 3% to 15%
- Bringing down unemployment in slums from 6% to 2%
States Velankar, `it is amusing to note how blatantly they made plans on paper in order to clinch the Smart City deal. However, in reality they have not been able to implement even a fragment of these commitments.
The political leaders have managed to not make these vital issues that directly affect citizens, into non-issues. However, it remains to be seen if the discerning Puneite will contemplate on how he or her is being taken for a nasty ride and make the civic body and the state government accountable!’
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or the individuals mentioned quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
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