Citizens knock on the court’s doors to open a bridge in Baner-Balewadi
Despite a delay in construction, the bridge was completed in the 2018-19 fiscal year, with an estimated cost exceeding ₹31 crore
Pune: The lethargic approach of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has forced residents of Baner, Balewadi, Wakad and Kaspate Vasti to approach the Bombay High Court to open a newly-built bridge on Mula river.
The residents on Friday filed a public interest litigation (PIL) for the stretch connecting Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations.
The neighbourhoods of Baner and Balewadi in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Wakad and Kaspate Vasti in Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) have long been separated by the Mula river for lack of a road, according to residents. They are forced to take the long route passing through the busy Mumbai-Bengaluru Highway to connect to the two cities.
To address the issue, a bridge connecting Balewadi, Baner, and Wakad over the Mula River was approved by PMC and PCMC in 2013.
Despite a delay in construction, the bridge was completed in the 2018-19 fiscal year, with an estimated cost exceeding ₹31 crore. However, it has yet to be opened for public use, leaving hapless residents to take a long route to reach their home or office.
Abhijit Garad, a Wakad resident, and Sandip Mandloi of Balewadi, contacted authorities many times to open the bridge, but failed to get a positive response.
With the new bridge yet to be opened for public use, the space on and around the pathway is used by miscreants, for garbage dumping and unauthorised truck/tanker parking.
Hence, the residents filed a PIL at the Bombay High Court against PMC, PCMC, district collector, town planning authority and urban development department. Their PIL seeks a court directive to open the Wakad-Balewadi Bridge for public use.
Garad said, “The delay in opening the bridge is causing inconvenience to thousands of residents living in Wakad, Kaspate Wasti, and Pimple Saudagar as they are forced to take long route to reach their workplace or home.”
Mandloi said, “People living in Baner and Balewadi have to deal with daily traffic problems with vehicles held up for 30-40 minutes just to get through one intersection. Radha Chowk, Mamta Chowk and Dasra Chowk face bottlenecks. The link road between Balewadi and Wakad has been in the works for over 10 years. Although a bridge was built in Wakad over the Mula River at a cost of ₹31 crore a few years ago, the rest of the road remains incomplete.”
On behalf of the petitioners, advocate Satya Muley said, “If there is a problem in acquiring the land from Balewadi side for giving connectivity to the bridge, then it exposes the flaws in PMC’s planning. It is astonishing to see that both the corporations built the bridge without proceeding to acquire land. If authorities and politicians claim that the land acquisition problem has been solved, they should let the authorities show the development in the next 2 to 3 months, and file an affidavit supporting their claims in the Bombay High Court.”
A PMC project department official who is handling the issue, on condition of anonymity, said, “The bridge is around 200 metres long and 30-metre wide and both (PMC and PCMC) spent equal funds on its construction. PCMC has completed their approach road, but we face land acquisition issue. We have to develop around 700-metre approach road which connects to Balewadi. However, owners are not ready to hand over land to PMC. We have got almost 90 per cent of the required land and will develop the approach road under the Pune Smart City Development Corporation Limited (PSCDCL) funds. It will take around three to four months to complete the approach road works before opening it for public.