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Rediff.com  » Business » Stagnant infrastructure projects hold Pune back

Stagnant infrastructure projects hold Pune back

December 31, 2007 12:27 IST
Underutilisation of funds worth Rs 1,400 crore (Rs 14 billion) sanctioned under the Jawarharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), uncertainty on the proposed Rs 300-crore (Rs 3 billion) ring road for Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad and the re-carpeting of Pune airport runway adversely impacting air traffic.

That's just a peek into the issues that dominated Pune's civil infrastructure scenario this year.

The Centre has sanctioned Rs 7,200 crore (Rs 72 billion) under JNNURM for various development projects in the city, including Rs 1,400 crore (Rs 14 billion) for the execution of the bus rapid transit (BRT) system, construction of roads for the Commonwealth Youth Games and low-cost housing for people. But the PMC has failed to initiate some of these projects while the much-hyped BRT still remains incomplete.  

A number of road and railway over-bridge projects are stuck due to land acquisition. While the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) completed the three-year-old flyover project along Ganeshkhind Road, it also proposed a Rs 1,700-crore (Rs 17  billion) Integrated Road Development Project (IRDP) for both Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

The project, however, has not taken off as the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) are yet to approve the proposal to collect 'cess' on fuel to raise funds.

The state government also pitched in and suggested construction of a 60-metre-wide ring road around the two industrial cities of Maharashtra.

But problems related to land acquisition, the money to be raised and the disputes within the ruling Nationalist Congress Party in the PMC and the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance have ensured that the project remains on paper.

The PMC during the year also tried to explore the option of a metro rail system within the city. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has prepared a detailed project report, which is yet to be considered. A similar report prepared by a German company to set up a network of Tramway across the city is still unread.

Other projects such as the ambitious low-cost housing for the poor could not take off due to malpractices in tender process. Under the JNNURM, PMC plans to construct around 8,000 flats at a cost of Rs 380 crore (Rs 3.8 billion) in three areas.

The controversy over rehabilitation of slums continued as none of the projects planned by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) received a green signal from the state government.

Considering all these problems, the state government is planning to set up the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA), which would work as a nodal agency to look after the development of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and key surrounding areas.

The air traffic scenario too has been disturbing. The Indian Air Force (IAF), which governs the airport, has started re-carpeting of the runway. This has restricted the flying hours at Pune airport between 10:30 am and 6:30 pm.

Though there is no clarity yet on the proposed international airport near Chakan along the Pune-Nashik national highway, the civil aviation ministry has asked the state government to start land acquisition for the project.  The first flight from this airport is expected to take-off only by 2016.

The Pluses
However, there were a few positive developments too. Captive power generation up to 100 Mw by private companies ensured better summer for residents and industrial community this year.

The government is planning to replicate the Pune power model across the state next summer. The government is also planning a gas-based power plant by Reliance Industries Limited in Pune district.

A key feather added to the city infrastructure this year was the Wi-Max project initiated in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad.

'Development would speed up in the next three to four months'

Praveen Pardeshi, Municipal Commissioner, Pune

Various infrastructure projects in the city have taken a back seat during the year?

We faced a lot of roadblocks in various projects. Whether construction of roads or others projects, tendering and re-tendering process, problems regarding land acquisition and cost escalation have put on hold a number of crucial projects.

However, we have overcome almost all the hindrances and development would speed up in the next three to four months.

Projects like ring road and Wi-Max connectivity are running at a snail's pace?

Ring road involves a lot of land acquisition and who is to spend money for this is yet to be decided.

Also, the alignment of the road has not been finalised. Hence, the project will take some time to start. In the case of Wi-Max project, PMC can't execute it on its own. It needs support of various other agencies.

How do you see the next year in terms of city's development?

The Airport Road, Baner Road and Alandi Road are being converted into roads of international standards. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project would also be completed in the initial phase of the next year.
Kaustubh Kulkarni in Mumbai/ Pune
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