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Monday, June 7, 2010

Edition 22: Our City Our Metro

Even as the city administrators are bent on introducing the metro railway in Pune, the citizens are coming up against the project. Some call it the disastrous plan while some oppose it because of technical faults. Whatever, the reason, the citizens have given the statement that in their city, project can not come from outside.

City Blog Desk
Almost 200 persons from all walks of life marched in protest of the Metro project which has become the pet project of the powers that be. Convened by the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan (PMJA), the walk to protest against what the activist say, ‘present form of the disastrously planned metro’ was a huge success. Nearly 200 citizens of age groups between 14 years and 82 years participated in the walk.
They congregated at the subway of the Garware flyover in Deccan Gymkhana. Many curious passers by stopped by, patiently read the objection letter and signed it on the spot itself. Others took it home and said would post it. We collected many objection signatures on the spot - will have to count today. Amongst the well-known personalities of Pune, Vidya Bal, Mangesh Tendulkar, Alpana Kirloskar, Monika Trivedi, Gaurav Natekar, Nachiket and Jayu Patwardhan were a part of this walk which culminated at the Institution of Engineers.
According to Prashant Inamdar, member of PMJA and president of Pedestrian’s First, the present design of the Metro rail is nothing but disaster. Metro is a very costly project and decision will impact city for 100 years and more. Hasty decision if proved wrong later would be disastrous for the city. The PMJA has shot a letter to PMC commissioner Mahesh Zagade outlining the protest. The letter titled ‘Why I, as a citizen, am opposing the present form of Pune Metro?’ says, “No doubt that Pune needs a good public transport system, hence I welcome any mode of public transport which would be people-friendly and of long term use for solving the serious traffic problems Pune is facing. However, there has to be transparency and wide public consultations before taking any decision in the matter. The PMC city fathers have cleared the Rs.4,000 odd crore, 15 km Pune Metro corridor between Vanaz and Ramwadi (Phase-1) without taking people into confidence. We need to know whether the proposal made by the DMRC will be really useful for us, what impact it will have on us and our city and then decide whether we want it. Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad (or rather the entire Pune Metropolitan Region) ought to have a composite traffic and transportation plan because the two neighbouring cities are very closely interlinked and thus have a bearing on each other. Yet PCMC has already backtracked and wants to have its own separate Metro. So the metro plan for Pune alone may either prove ineffective or problematic.”

According to members of PMJA, the PMC states that citizens will be burdened with additional civic taxes after the construction of Pune Metro. We want the PMC to make it very clear what the additional financial burden on citizens would be, the period for which we will have to pay it etc before decision about the project is taken. The DMRC proposal provides only one recommendation which has been blindly accepted by the PMC. We would like to know why the PMC has not asked for various options from the DMRC before making the decision, which is a costly, long term, irreversible commitment for the city.

Even Maharatta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture has objection over the plane. Chandmal Parmar, chairman of transport committee of MCCIA had outlined his objections with City Blog (Feb. 12-18, 2010). These objections were raised in the letters written to Maharashtra government, Dilip Bund, divisional commissioner of Pune and Mahesh Zagade, municipal commisioner.According to Parmar,
• In the planning of the route, Metro rail should connect to the PMPML depot, ST stand and railway station. The purpose should be to provide public with fastest, cheap and convnient mean of transport. This is not done in the present scheme.
• The routes earmarked for the Metro project are based on the D. P. Rues in 1987. The situation in and around Pune has changed so much, but the changes are not considered. Hence the ground reality of the routes is totally different. There will be severe problems in the land acquisition. It will delay the implementation of the project resulting in the cost inflation.
• Instead of Metro rail, MCCIA has suggested a monorail system. This will bring the cost to Rs 0-40 crores per km. This monorail should support the proposed ring road to be taken from outside the city limits. The monorail should be taken along Nagzira Nalla, which is lying unused.
• The gauge of the proposed Metro rail is also a problem. While India has accepted unigauge policy, meaning that all rail lines in the country will run on the broad gauge, Metro rail is proposed to run on the meter gauge. It will create problem in procuring equipments, coaches and manpower for the routes. Also, if there is unigauge system, the metro rails can be easily accommodated with the normal lines in case of emergency. It will not be possible in the meter gauge lines.
• MCCIA has proposed that existing railway line on the Pune-Lonavala route should be strengthened with a third track and frequency of the trains on that route should be increased. Also, railways should start shuttle services on Pune-Daund section which will be later on added with shuttle services on Jejuri and Saswad route.
• Also, MCCIA has asked that the maintenance depot, the dockyard of the Metro should be outside Pune. Because the space required for this depot is too large and looking at the space crunch in the city, it will be futile if existing spaces are taken up.

The Points of Objections
• The DMRC does not explain how the proposed Metro is going to be integrated with the existing and proposed traffic and transportation channels. As a result, we, the citizens’ fear that the Metro in its present form would not be cost-effective and may even worsen the existing mess in Pune rather than easing it.

• This Pune Metro Corridor will be an elevated one, meaning it will run above the surface of the road. This means, Jangli Maharaj Road, Karve Road, Sassoon Road and Pune Station chowk will have monstrous looking flyover-like structures on which the metro will run. There will be wide pillars to support these flyovers at the centre of the existing road which will reduce the carriageway width on the already congested roads.

• As per the DMRC report, there will be 16 Metro Stations, one each at every km, on both sides of the road, each one to be seven to eight storeys high, each one about 140m long & 35 mtrs wide which will come up on the roadsides of Jangli Maharaj Road, Karve Road and Sassoon Road. Due to insufficient clear space for stations, there will be demolition of existing buildings on roadsides and cutting of hundreds of trees.

• As per the DMRC report, no vehicle parking place can be provided at the stations as these are located in congested areas. People with their own vehicles will hence not be able to use the metro.

• The Metro Stations would be very close to existing buildings without sufficient natural ventilation, light and circulation space between the structures. In case of fire mishap, quick access to the site and rescue will be hampered.

• Elevated metro on road will also mean permanently closing all future options along the route for public transport, road infrastructure improvement as well as beautification etc.

• 4 FSI has been proposed for 500 mtr stretch on both sides of metro corridor to raise funds for metro. This densification will distort the fabric of the city and affect quality of life.

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