While Pune made the cut to the list of Smart Cities to be developed upon, the citizens have their list of of major peeves that need to be resolved.
Turning smart also means getting access to huge funds that ought to be deployed effectively to satisfy our discerning citizen.
Listed here in random order are few of the significant irritants and concerns that must be addressed, before we can hold our head high and call ourselves truly smart!
Peeve #1: Pune’s Men Urinating On Footpaths:
Quite recently, I set out with a friend for a morning walk to Sarasbaug and hired an autorickshaw to the statue end of the Sanas Sports Ground. We walked towards Sarasbaug, using the footpath, but soon enough had to get off as the stench of urine was unbearable.
On enquiring why the stench was so intense, a flower seller informed me that this stretch is used by the drunks to relieve themselves. This is the case almost everywhere and today they don’t even look for a secluded spot!
It was bad enough with our footpaths taken over by two-wheelers and vendors, and now this menace too!
Peeve #2: Dangerous And Undisciplined Drivers:
There are so many `Oh my God’ (OMG) moments when you commute through any road practically any time of the day or night.
The OMG moments range from overtaking from the left to cutting parallel right in front of your vehicle, popping straight out of a no-entry road, and cutting red signals with impunity.
No, it doesn’t end here and you find them speeding past from any side, parking just anywhere and now road rage too with brawls right in the middle of the road.
Peeve #3: Rickety Public Transport:
Considering that one of the prime objectives of the Smart Cities Mission is to provide for an ‘efficient urban mobility and public transport’ by its own vision statement, it is anything but smart in our city.
It is utterly sloppy and an embarrassment to this city that boasts of such eminence in the arena of education, automobile and IT. The non-existent maintenance of the PMPML buses effuses in their dilapidated condition, efficiency, maintenance and cleanliness.
About 20% to 30% of buses plying on the roads break down every day, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded. The BRTS mode of transport, despite the early failures continues to be flogged without learning from past mistakes.
An efficient public bus transport system is not rocket science and works well in several cities. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be in Pune and the state government have turned a Nelson’s eye to this vital area of mobility of the people.
Despite experts and NGOs bringing it to the notice of the PMC regarding selection of unviable routes and the fact that its own DPR states that projection of ridership would be a mere seven lakh until 2030, the haphazard manner of constructing it continues.
Peeve #4: Garbage Is Still A Dirty Word:
‘Solid waste management’ is also one of the core infrastructure elements in a Smart City as per PMC’s vision statement. Just recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has slammed the PMC for inefficient handling of solid waste management.
Pune produces between 1600-1700 metric tonnes of garbage per day. While the collection has improved in certain nighbourhoods of the city, PMC has miserably failed in its appropriate disposal. Now isn’t it a shame that around 2.5 lakh metric tonnes of it are piled like a heap in Urali Devachi?
This implies that the machinery put up there which has the capacity of treating 1,000 metric tonnes of waste per day is doing its job so inefficiently that it can cope with only 200 metric tonnes per day.
The 25,000 villagers of Urali Devachi continue to breath toxic and life threatening air. To ad to this misery, commercial streets are littered with garbage by morning as small vendors of foodstalls and their clients simply throw waste on to the road.
Peeve #5: Certainly Not Differently-Abled Friendly
As long as you are on your feet and in good health, you can bear the trauma of crossing roads amidst the chaotic traffic and access buildings and offices for your work. However, what about the differently abled –in wheel chairs or suffering from some physical disability?
Sorry, this smart city is just not for them. Most public places, buses, public toilets, government offices and rickshaws are not friendly for this fraternity.
In the bargain, most are confined to their homes until their family or friends take the effort to accompany them and help them access these locations. This is as pathetic as it gets!
Peeves #6: The Security Of Our Senior Citizens At Stake:
From a Pensioner’s paradise, Pune has now literally turned into a pensioner’s nightmare! About a decade and a half back, my mother religiously went for her evening walk from Model Colony to Deep Bungalow Chowk, and did her shopping too on the way.
Soon, the chowk became so congested that she feared she would be run over and stopped this daily routine. She moved on to a better world, but thousands of senior citizens like her face the same problem. They simply do not have the courage to enjoy what most pedestrians in other cities can.
Crimes against the elderly have grown and more so with the children most often settled abroad or in other parts of the country. While efforts have been taken by the police to map their homes, the approach hasn’t not yielded the needed results.
With pune’s wealth of IT talent, there are bound to be technology led solutions that can be put into place and our IT experts will certainly extend their help the PMC and Pune Police if called upon. Incidentally. the security of senior citizens is also one of the core elements of the Smart City Mission.
~~Post Script: This article is not to berate efforts being taken by PMC to make Pune a better city under the Smart City Mission. However, the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs has set these stringent norms for a city to be a smart city and it must be adhered to ! You can read more in this link: http://smartcities.gov.in/content/innerpage/smart-city-features.php.
#All views in this article are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,
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