#VinitasPune: When The Common Citizen’s Good Is Last Priority

Helmet - Pune city
#WearAHelmet #StayAlive

When those who you have elected at the local governance level, work against the larger public good, what hope do you have, as a citizen, to be safe and sound in your own city?

When eight MLAs marched to Mumbai last week, to meet Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis with a shocking request to ask Pune Police not to take action against two-wheeler riders who do not wear helmets, it reflected their arrogance to violate the Supreme Court order and make lives of innocent commuters, vulnerable to head injuries.

Fadnavis on his part, played safe, by assuring them that e-challans should be made against those who do not wear the head gear, like it is done in his hometown Nagpur (where neither citizens nor activists come in the way of enforcement of this rule). This incident is just a tip of the iceberg as to how, our elected representatives are so far off from serving the society for good, for which they have been entrusted with; with our tax paying money. 

Much has been written about how corporators in Pune, across political parties have been stalling the mandatory helmet rule for nearly two decades.

Taking out morchas, carrying funeral procession of the helmet and indirectly making two-wheeler riders, vulnerable to head injuries as the very delicate organ, the brain, which is the nerve centre of our existence, can get damaged to various degrees, even with a fall at slow speed.

Parking on the roads is another issue that is milked by our local councilors of all political parties in the hope of allegedly keeping their vote banks alive and kicking. It has to be understood that even if a citizen is paying road tax, it does not mean he or she has the right over free parking on roads. These two are different issues.

No one can have the right to free parking on a public road. With monstrous private vehicular traffic on Pune roads thanks to a deliberate paralysing of PMPML by vested interests, roads are already congested.

Parking fee deters parking on roads to a certain extent. However, since two decades or more, corporators have been fighting against levying fee for parking. Last year, the ruling party in the PMC also bowed down to the opposition parties’ demand of refraining from implementing parking fees on certain arterial roads. Stringent action to make the life of the common commuter is just not their priority. Over and above, they had the gall to interfere with the parking fees in Malls and demand free parking. Most of the Malls refund your parking fees after your shopping, at the billing counter, so it is hardly an issue.

Even if they do not refund, a citizen feels safe that his vehicle is parked in a safe place, at the cost of a parking free. 

Let’s take the case of the PMPML, the pathetic bus transport system of Pune. For decades, it is run in a shoddy condition and is filled with corrupt practices. Each day, as I travel for work, I witness the breakdown of at least two buses; a few days back, I saw three buses broken down on Ganeshkhind Road in a one kilometer radius!

Stories about stealing new batteries and wheels of new buses by vested interest have been making rounds since at least three decades. The public transport body is bleeding due to non-governance and financial irregularities.

No political party fights for its resurrection which is crucial for the physical convenience and mental peace of a commuter. Just when the PMPML was bouncing back to transparency and good administration, thanks to the honest and courageous IAS officer, Tukaram Munde, the party who was at the helm, the ruling party in the PMC ensured his dismissal within a short span of time.

Now, Netas of all political parties are deceiving the citizens by painting a rosy picture of the Pune Metro, making them feel it is going to solve the problems of traffic congestion and make commuting, easy.

Well, if there is no integrated public transport approach to the metro system, then it is elementary that no one mode of transport can work successfully.

What about our corporators indulging blatantly and shamelessly in putting up illegal hoardings on roadsides of arterial roads, with their blown up photographs and that of their colleagues and workers?

What about the fact that they threaten PMC officers and staff if they dare remove them? That, there have been instances of PMC personnel beaten up, when they attempted to pull down the hoardings?

Do these Netas care for following rules themselves and care for the maintaining the aesthetic beauty of the city? Clearly, they don’t!

Hence, I keep remembering Anna Hazare’s words that the citizen is the master and those whom we elect are our servants. Instead, political leaders from the gram panchayat to the Lok Sabha level have become the self-style lords and we, who voted them to power, are the faceless, helpless ones.

Wake up citizens! Show them their place by being pro-active at your own individual level. The greatest crime is to suffer injustice, lying down. 


#All views in this column are those of the author and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.

Vinita Deshmukh

Vinita Deshmukh

Passion for the written word that comes alive, not only to tell a story, but to speak out loud about all that's good, bad and the ugly in society...

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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Vinita Deshmukh