Thursday, June 28, 2012



Pune was once a lovely city – a salubrious pensioner’s paradise with a laid back culture. Pune had a distinct charm – both parts of it – the “city” which was the Oxford of the East and the cantonment or “camp” – verdant, spacious, well-laid out.

I don’t know why the powers-that-be are hell bent on ruining the charm of Pune. First they “industrialized” Pune, then they made it an “IT Hub”  and an “Auto Cluster” and now they think they can make it a “metro” by building a metro (pun intended).   

Try as you may, it is difficult to suddenly change the culture of a place – especially Pune’s laid back culture. It seems the planners haven’t learnt their lessons from past infrastructure debacles and those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.

Let’s take a few examples.

The ambitious BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System) is an unmitigated disaster. This grand public transportation project was supposed to be a panacea for transportation ills which would solve Pune’s transport and traffic problems and be a boon for commuters. More than 10 years have passed, the BRTS is still incomplete, and has proved to be a massive failure with huge amount of public money gone down the drain. Further, the PMPML Bus System which operates the BRTS is so inefficient that public transport has become a curse for commuters – a bane rather than a boon. 

Someone said that the BRTS is successful in Ahmedabad, but then Pune is not Ahmedabad.

Likewise the Metro Railway may have been successful in Delhi but then Pune is not Delhi.

Pune has its own pace of work, especially as far as infrastructure is concerned. Road are dug up for months without end as repairs and the never-ending road widening work goes on endlessly. To cite and example, road widening work on a 100 metre stretch of road from Wakad Chowk to the Hinjewadi Flyover is going on for more than a year with no signs of completion in the near future and the road has been dug up for the last one and a half years causing traffic congestion, danger and inconvenience to everyone. Road widening (for BRTS) from Aundh to Chinchwad and Hinjewadi (a 10 Km stretch of road) started more than 5 years ago and is progressing at snail’s pace with the end nowhere in sight. The “prestigious” Baner Road built for the Commonwealth Games is still incomplete in patches (we have even forgotten when these Commonwealth Games were held – maybe more than 5 years ago). 

Pune does not have a civilian airport and depends on the air force airport for operating civil domestic flights (for international flights you have to go to Mumbai). Plans for constructing a civilian international airport were conceived more than 10 years ago but still remain on paper. In much less time, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kochi (Cochin) were able to create world-class international airports.

Before embarking on a flight of fancy like a Metro Rail, it is time to do a reality check. If you are a Punekar, tell me, in your wildest imagination, do you think it is possible to complete the proposed Pune Metro Railway Project in 5 years? Don’t you think it is better to first complete the unfinished work on ongoing infrastructure projects like BRTS and Road Widening and focus in vital issues like improving Water and Electricity Supply instead of indulging in flights of fancy and building castles in the air and wasting resources on an unfeasible, unviable, ambitious pipedream like the Pune Metro.

I shudder to think of the scenario if and when construction work starts on the Pune Metro – Debris, Pollution, Obstructions, Dug-up Roads, Disruption of Telephone, Electricity and Water Services due to the digging, Traffic Chaos due to diversions – it will be a terrible nuisance and the inconvenience will be awful, and from past experience of Pune, the work will go forever endlessly till eternity. They want to make crisscross metro lines right through the crowded congested city from Kothrud to Kharadi and from Katraj to Nigdi - is it practically feasible to easily implement on ground - just imagine the chaos it will cause. 

Though it is claimed that the Pune Metro will be completed in 5 years, we know from past experience that it may even take more than 25 years and even then the work may not be fully complete (there is a penchant for leaving work incomplete and sometimes it seems that there are vested interests who benefit from these inordinate delays).

So let us not bite more than we can chew. 

Dear Powers-that-be – let Pune be as it is – no more “modernization” please. This has already caused enough damage  - for example, notice how the rainfall has reduced every passing year, and this year the monsoon rains have still not arrived even though it is the end of June. Let us tackle the existing problems (water scarcity, electricity shortage, terrible traffic and pathetic public transport) first and not take up more than we can chew by embarking on ambitious projects like the Pune Metro – let us deploy our resources on making Pune a better place to live in as it is here and now.

Please let Pune be. With each passing days of “modernization”, Pune is dying; do not kill it but please try to revive it. If you want a modern cosmopolitan metropolitan city why not build a new satellite city nearby with state-of-the-art facilities, amenities and infrastructure (like airport, transport, roads, metro and what have you) planned in advance.

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 book 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 Karve has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram Karve 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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pradipwritenow said...

Very Nice narrations and lot to learn. But i hope for Metro constructions things may not be like Municipality constructions. In the later the contract gets awarded without taking the financial concurrence. So bills pile up and for unpaid bills the contractors give up.However let us see.

Anatomy said...

I wish for City designs factors may not be like Town designs. In the later the agreement gets granted without getting the economical concurrence. please visit Anatomy.