Let’s look at what changed and what didn’t in our city, known for its citizen alertness on one side and good, bad and ugly governance on the other…
It’s funny to begin an assessment of a decade with this example but it truly reflects the growing trend of government officials in Pune going that extra mile to address citizens’ issues.
Just last week, I called the head of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Dr Anurag Kashyapi as a dear one’s daughter’s wedding reception was planned in an open lawn and there was the weatherman’s prediction of possible rain. That was a crisis for us at the 11th hour.
I had a feeling that Kashyapi would not pick up the call and if he did, he would indifferently tell me to either call up someone in the office or give me a terse reply. However, much to my astonishment, not only did he promptly answered and asked me to call him after 15 minutes in order to give me a clear picture.
Sure enough, he assured me that it would hardly rain during the three to four hours of the function and if at all it would be just a few drops which the people would not mind. Thanks to his in-depth guidance, we were confident of the decision we made.
In fact, this is one big and good change of this decade in Pune.
Thanks to the popularity of using the RTI Act, leading RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar requested the then information commissioner Vijay Kuvalaker to direct the public authorities to have a specific day and time where citizens could inspect files in the Pune Municipal Corporation.
The PMC became the first municipal corporation in the country which keeps its doors open for citizens every Monday between 3 pm and 5 pm. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and the Pune District Collectorate also followed suit.
Thus, government officers in Pune are very open to meeting citizen visitors to address their issues. Recently, the PMC is also on Twitter replying the status to citizens who lodge their complaints to it, online. Similarly, the Pune Police too is very pro-active with citizens.
For long, like any other city or town in the country, Pune’s walls that run alongside public roads were smattered with ugly posters, handbills and graffiti. In an innovative campaign by the PMC to beautify its walls, several groups of talented artists have turned them into a gallery of visual art. Some of them are done by the students of art schools. As a result, it is a pleasant experience to see the colourful paintings done with such beautiful creativity and vibrant colours, as you commute along the roads. Undoubtedly, it has added to the cheer of the city and curtailed the menace of sticking posters, though heart-wrenchingly I found a couple of handouts stuck on to one of the painted walls!
No more standing in a queue to pay your public utility bills. Of course this is not restricted only to Pune, but it is heartening to see very short queues for paying of power bills, phone bills, property tax bills, railway and bus tickets and so on at the respective counters dotted in the city.
With the click of the mouse, you can finish this task in minutes from your home or workplace, thus saving Puneites from having to commute through traffic and take out precious time to do these mandatory jobs.
This is particularly a blessing to senior citizens, many of who stay by themselves. Technology has indeed empowered Pune and its citizens.
City’s corporators from various wards are actively working towards farmer’s markets. What was until the last decade, an elite term, has now become a household name.
In most of the areas of Pune, weekend farmers markets wherein the farmers’ produce is brought straight to the buyer without the middleman have become very popular due to their fresh quality and very reasonable prices. Kudos to the local political leaders, who have taken keen interest in making this venture, successful.
It is in this decade that the metamorphosis of Pune from Pensioners’ Paradise to a Youth City took birth.
With the advent of an array of private collleges, the blossoming of IT and ITES industry, the service and the automobile industry, Pune is studded with youngsters and young professionals. They make for over 60% of Pune’s population.
Thus, Pune’s repute as a `happening city’ manifests in the innumerable pubs and innovative hangouts. The night is indeed young in Pune, beating metros like Mumbai and Delhi!.
It is in this decade of 2000-2019 that Pune bloomed as a sports city thanks to the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi. National and international events of various sports are held here, besides all year training for promising young sportspersons.
Pune boasts of 168 public gardens which are spread in practically all neighbourhoods. The mission which began in the late 1990s when Mr Yashwant Khaire was PMC’s garden superintendent witnessed an impetus in the last 10 years, with the birth of the Pu La Deshpande garden taking the cake with its Japanese and Moghul Gardens resting on 40,000 sq ft of land.
Does this sound like too rosy a picture? Yes it does, for some things, bad and ugly, remains the same. Like bad roads (thanks to corruption in the civic corridors), irregular or no water supply to so many neighbourhoods, congested and unruly traffic, bad traffic engineering and management, pathetic public transport system and illegal encroachments in various forms that have caused dangerous flash floods, stinking Mula-Mutha rivers, air pollution, bad solid waste management system and myopic vision for development plan and conservation of our trees and hills.
Much ink has flown on these issues therefore I’ve capsuled it in one paragraph.
Let’s go forward to the next decade of 2020-2029 with hope in our hearts and with a mission to contribute to various causes, as per each one’s priorities.
Here’s wishing all of you a fabulous 2020 and a great decade too!
#All views expressed in this column 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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