Friday, February 24, 2012


A Most Neglected City
Musings on Living in Pune

They may say that Pune is a most modern metropolis but in actual fact Pune is a most neglected city and does not have facilities and infrastructure commensurate to its population. (I think Pune is the seventh largest city in India after Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore).

Do you know that Pune is not a UPSC Examination Centre? If you want to give an UPSC Examination to join the Civil Services or the Defence Forces you have to go all the way to Mumbai which is the nearest centre. And just imagine, they call Pune the Oxford of the East.

Yesterday there was a full page advertisement in the newspaper announcing the Launch of the 50th Passport Seva Kendra. You will be surprised to know that Pune does not figure in the list of 50 cities where modern IT enabled Passport Seva Kendras have been established under the National E-Governance Plan in consultation with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) despite the fact that Pune is touted as the IT City of India, the huge presence of TCS in Pune and, most importantly, the fast growing cosmopolitan population for which the existing abysmal desolate archaic one-room passport office is grossly inadequate. But the powers that be chose to ignore Pune and rewarded much smaller places, some of whose names you might not have even heard of. In fact passport offices in bigger cities like Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmedabad have been given a sizeable number of Passport Seva Kendras but Pune does not get even one. (It is interesting to note that Kerala has the largest number of passport offices and passport seva kendras in the country, more than any other state).

Despite having so many industries and travellers, Pune does not have a proper dedicated commercial airport and has to depend on the Air Force Airport at Lohegaon. Forget about international flights, most of the time you have to go to Mumbai even to catch domestic flights as there is hardly any connectivity from Pune. Rail connectivity from Pune is pretty inadequate too considering its diverse migrant population.

Public Transport in Pune is probably the worst as compared to other comparable cities. There is no metro rail nor do there seem to be plans to start one in the near future. The bus service is pathetic, almost on the verge of collapse. Owing to the poor public transport you are forced to buy your own vehicle to commute which further adds to traffic density and makes traffic problems even worse. The pitiable conditions of the roads which are permanently dug up and are most inadequate for the burgeoning traffic makes commuting the biggest nightmare in Pune. Traffic accidents are on the rise and so are stress levels due to road rage and frustration while driving. As I once told a friend of mine – “the best way to travel in Pune is to go nowhere”. As far as the traffic problem is concerned, Pune seems to be on the verge of collapse. Sadly, no one is thinking of building walk-to-work townships integrating workplaces and residences in self-contained campuses.

Earlier Pune was a peaceful and disciplined city, but crime and indiscipline seem to be on the increase and Pune is no longer the safe, secure and courteous city it once used to be. Pune is no longer the laid-back salubrious Pensioner’s Paradise with temperate weather, clean air and verdant green open spaces; but sadly Pune has metamorphosed into a sweltering hot, grimy, polluted, unhealthy, dirty, crowded concrete jungle with hardly any greenery left. There are hardly any places to walk anymore and cycling is dangerous due to the chaotic undisciplined traffic.

I wonder why this step-motherly treatment is meted out to Pune. Is it because of its proximity to Mumbai? Is it because no one is interested in Pune?

You may not believe this but I will give you one more example. Wakad, just a stone’s throw from the famous Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park at Hinjewadi, still does not have a BSNL Landline connection so all the high-tech IT Techies are deprived of fast Broadband Internet Connectivity at home and have to make do with slow USB internet. More than one year has passed since we made a request and applied for BSNL Broadband connection but it is taking ages for BSNL to lay a simple optical fiber cable landline. That’s the laid-back couldn't care less attitude and slow pace of infrastructure development in Pune for you – no one seems to be bothered.

But there is one thing I just cannot understand. Despite the deteriorating quality of life, people from all over keep flocking to Pune and settling down here. Quite a paradox isn’t it? The quality of life goes down but the population goes up and this puts additional strain on the meagre infrastructure and facilities which makes the quality of life further deteriorate. A vicious cycle indeed. I wonder what attracts so many people to Pune. Maybe the places from where they come are really so terrible, the facilities out there so poor and quality of life out there are so bad, that in comparison their hometowns they find Pune a slightly better place to live in. But one thing is sure. Considering the crumbling infrastructure and worsening state of affairs in Pune, those who still want to relocate to Pune must be having a very strong reason to do so.

There is one more thing I cannot understand. Why are the property prices so high in Pune? Everything is expensive in Pune, but buying an affordable house has become almost impossible. Real Estate rates have gone through the roof. Considering the appalling infrastructure, inadequate facilities and unexceptional quality of life, is there any justification or rationale for such high prices? Well, Dear Reader, I just cannot fathom the answer to this paradox and I will let you answer this question and enlighten us with your views.

Is it Requiem for Pune?

Well, as a die hard dyed-in-the-wool optimist Punekar I still hope for the best and say: “Long Live Pune!”

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2012
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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About Vikram Karve

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures (2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

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Kajal said...

So sad to read this:(( I studied at Fergusson and it is a city very very close to my heart. Been there 2 years ago during our visit to India and realised the essence had lost:( however, it still remains my fav. place.

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Kajal - Fergusson - Wow - BTW Vaishali and Good Luck still going strong

My Unfinished Life said...

you will be glad to know that Pune municipality(rather pimpli chinchwad)has been chosen under World Bank and MoUD sustainable urban development project cities..and as we speak work is going on the BRT corridor there...
regarding the things you have pointed out....yes, it is not fair to receive step motherly treatment!!

Vikram Waman Karve said...

@ Shooting Star - Thanks for the good news. Let's hope for the best