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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Paud Rd Balbharati Flyover: To Be or Not To Be

PUNE: As this could be the good news for Kothrud, Paud, Warje residents and bad news for environmentalists of the city. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is ready to table the comprehensive Environment Impact Report on Balbharti-Paud Phata road project in next week (Dec 13-19). This ambitious project has been halted by High Court’s work stay order.

Much hullabaloo had been happened on this project. After High Court directives, PMC has given the work to prepare a detailed report on the issue to Shrishti Eco, a Pune based organisation. After digging out the issue, information revealed may create series of developments in socio-political fraternity of the city.

Its environmentalist’s extremism: Mathkari

Giving details of the project, Corporator Vikas Mathkari said, “In public interest, we follow up Balbharati-Paud Phata road since 1994. To decrease the vehicular traffic on Law College Road, cont page from pg-1

there is a need of an adjacent road to the Law College road. We got sanction in General Body meeting, all party meeting in Pune Municipal Corporation. After getting fund, the work begun and 25 per cent of work had been done. But, later on Law College and other social organisations and activists went to High Court and filed a petition to stop this ongoing work on pretext to save the ecosystem of Law College hill. Now, the whole matter is pending with High Court. The total work had been stopped by court order. In fact, this is the project by which we can preserve our habitat by reducing pollution. Now, we are unable to cope with extremism shown by environmentalists,” Mathkari added.

Asking about the current status of the this project, Nilesh Nikam, Nationalist Congress Party’s house leader In PMC, said, “After getting prior permissions from concern authorities, PMC had started this work and acquired the necessary land. But after few days, when work reaches to Law College road campus, Law College and other organisations opposed the project and filed a petition in court. We had to stop the work as High Court ordered PMC to stop the work.”

Nikam also added that “According to court directives, PMC has prepared Environmental Impact Report on this issue after studying every aspect regarding the said damage to the ecosystem. We have made this report by the organisation which is approved by petitioners. Within one week, this report will be tabled in PMC and then court,” said Nikam.

Elaborating the project, Vivek Kharwadkar, Additional City Engineer, said, “This issue is pending with Court. We are going to table a detailed report on the possible damage by this project on Law College ecosystem. We have been assigned this task to a reputed organisation working in this field.”

What is the project?

The project includes construction of a 2.08 km long and 100 feet wide road and a flyover. The road will begin from opposite Balbharati gate on the Senapati Bapat Marg, go along Hanuman Tekdi and skirt Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, ILS Law College and Film and Television Institute of India (FTII).

Further ahead, the road will ascend from the lower ridge of the Hanuman hill and cross over to ARAI, after going past the Kalewadi slums and touch the Paud-Phata junction below the Paud fly-over. This will need the removal of encroachments. The Paud Phata-Balbharati link will ease the traffic situation at the Paud Road junction, Nal Stop and Law College road.

The flyover will start some 100 metres from Balbharati. The flyover will avoid conflict with the Senapati Bapat Marg traffic. The alignment of the new road is designed keeping in mind the traffic forecast for the High Capacity Mass Transport Road (HCMTR) corridor.

Study before implementation: Inamdar

Prashant Inamdar, a social activist and convener, Pedestrian First, strongly opposed this project and filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the court. Asking about the future of this project, he said, “There are so many issues which are not considered by Pune Municipal Corporation. The corporators, PMC officials are showing unnatural hurry in executing this project. They have neither studied the effects of this project on environment nor the utility of the project.” Questioning the utility of the project, Inamdar said, “After completion of this road, if vehicles from all direction come to the Paud Phata, then how PMC is going to handle traffic congestion on thatspot? We are only emphasizing that corporators and PMC officials should first study the project and then execute it. The PMC even did not conduct traffic counts at Law College or Senapati Bapat Road''.

Lamenting on PMCs apathy about the project, Inamdar said, “Also they have not obeyed the standards set by Indian Road Congress. The money they are pouring in such projects comes from people and people have right to ask questions about any project. PMC must take citizens’ opinion into consideration while initiating any type of project. The increasing traffic congestion at grade separator at Sancheti hospital proved that they are constructed haphazardly without thinking their utility. So what is the point in constructing another link road and flyover near Balbharti?”

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