Balbharati-Paud link road: Members of expert committee allege PMC has violated HC directives
PUNE The members of the expert committee constituted by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on the proposed Balbharati-Paud link road have alleged that the civic body has violated directives of the high court (HC) by deciding to go ahead with the project.
PMC had in 2019 appointed experts to carry out an environmental impact and traffic-related study. The road, originally proposed 34 years ago by the PMC, has been marked in the development plan and the standing committee has given its nod for the same.
However, after opposition from environmentalists, the Bombay High Court had directed, the PMC to carry out scientific traffic study and environmental impact study for the Balbharati-Paud link road project. The PMC appointed two consultants for carrying out the respective studies and preparing a report for the proposed Balbharati road to identify and evaluate the need, utility, benefits and impacts of the road with cost-benefit analysis. The consultants carried out the studies and submitted the reports to the PMC in which they have recommended that the proposed road is needed and should be built.
Prashant Inamdar, along with Major Gen Sudhir Jatar (Retd), were the two external members of the expert committee for the project. Both members objected to the PMC’s move and wrote a letter to Pune municipal commissioner as well as the state government.
Inamdar said, “Decision to implement the Balbharati-Paud link road project by bypassing the expert committee members’ views is the violation of Bombay High Court’s direction. I and Maj Gen (retd) SCN Jatar were the independent members on the committee which was appointed by the PMC. We had given our comments but have not received a reply. Even the PMC officials did not comment.”
The 2.1-kilometre road will be built between Kelewadi junction on Paud road till Balbharati office on Senapati Bapat road. While the earlier budget for the road, which will require flattening of the hill, was ₹24 crore in 2002, the PMC officials said, the cost needs to be revised now heavily.
“This road means a permanent devastating impact of the Balbharti road project on hill. This road would be useful only for a small portion of the Law College road traffic and a major portion of existing traffic on Law College road would continue to use Law College road even if the new road gets constructed,” he said.
Meanwhile, the PMC has already initiated the process for appointing a project management consultant for the project for pre-tender and post-tender activities. The consultant has submitted his report and asked the PMC to go ahead.
The road project, first proposed in 1987, met with opposition from environmental activists who expressed a threat to the hills.
Maj Gen Jatar (redt), had previously filed the public interest litigation (PIL), which the high court, later dismissed. While disposing of our public interest litigation, the high court asked PMC to conduct an environmental impact and a traffic-related study.
Commuters travelling from Senapati Bapat road towards Paud road have to pass through Law college road, which often witnesses traffic chaos during peak hours.