Countdown to PMC polls:Poorly developed SRA schemes, parking issues irk residents in Pune Cantonment

Cantonment is a mixture of areas falling under PMC. Most areas are old with a very limited scope to introduce major civic projects
Haphazard parking near the JJ Garden in Camp typifies the parking issue residents face. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
Haphazard parking near the JJ Garden in Camp typifies the parking issue residents face. (Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)
Published on Nov 15, 2021 04:33 PM IST
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ByAbhay Khairnar

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)-controlled localities under the Pune Cantonment assembly segment captures the dichotomy of rich and poor, with problems of local population varying according to areas under it.

Pune Cantonment is a mixture of areas falling in the Pune Cantonment and Pune Municipal Corporation. Most parts falling in these areas are old with a very limited scope to introduce major civic projects, although mass transport project like the Metro rail will benefit residents from some of the areas like Bund garden road and DP road. The irony is that in last five years there has been no upgradation or redevelopment done of existing residential buildings.

The ward offices that cover Camp are Bhavani peth and Dhole Patil ward, as well as a section of the Kasba-Vishrambaug wada ward office.

On the one hand, areas like Boat Club and Koregaon Park are upmarket, Bhavani peth hosts a wholesale market, while Tadiwalla road has major slums, which were in focus during Covid as cases rose sharply there.

The traffic at Bhavani peth, encroachments and poorly developed SRA schemes are major issues, along with a water scarcity.

“The parking issue is grave here with many offices coming in. Although the river is a blessing for us, hyacinth cropping up every year leads to a mosquito menace and the PMC has not done anything,” said Sanjay Lalvani, a 55-year-old businessman residing on Boat Club road.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has edged its way into what has always been a Congress bastion and currently, both have an equal number of elected members from these areas.

The Bhavani Peth ward office has been in focus for various alleged civic malpractices. The opposition parties have claimed that “scams” are being carried out in this ward, with bills being issued for works not done.

In May this year, a contractor submitted bills without even carrying works related to drainage pipelines . In another instance, funds were allocated for a specific work though it was used for elsewhere.

During the Covid surges, slums like on Tadiwala road or at Kashewadi in Bhavani peth, reported highest number of fatalities during the first wave. PMC had to take measures on a war footing. Incidentally, PMC’s health facility for contagious diseases, the Naidu Hospital, along with private hospitals like Ruby Hall and Jehangir are also in the same area.

The city’s traditional educational powerhouses – minority-aided and private English medium- are all situated here.

Rajesh Shah, a 41-year-old businessman said, “As a resident living on Bund Garden road we face various problems like traffic jams encroached footpaths. Given that there are important hospitals in the area, people park their vehicles anywhere. Even garbage management is not effective.”

Asmita Nair, who works for a bank in the area, says, “There are many issues like road digging and poor garbage management. Traffic jams and hawkers are an issue. It is difficult to walk on the roads.”

Yashodeep Kamble, 33, who works with a food delivery company said, “We voted for change in 2017. We were hoping to get a boost for slum development projects, but no such project has happened. If PMC carries out slum development, it would help.”

Staff from the Bhavani peth ward office, speaking anonymously said , “The political war is intense in this area. If administration wishes to do any work, the other party opposes it.”

For the ruling BJP the effective governance of the Naidu hospital in handling the Covid crisis and the now upcoming civic-run medical college are the two bright spots in an otherwise murky could over the Camp areas.

Congress leader and corporator from the Pune station area Arvind Shinde blamed the BJP for not doing much to improve civic facilities in this area. “This is an old part of the city so there is very little scope to bring new projects here. However, it was expected that the BJP will upgrade existing infrastructure to offer better services to people. Instead, this area became infamous due to BJP-controlled PMC releasing payment to contractors without doing works on the ground. Except the proposed medical college at Naidu Hospital, there has been no major work carried out by BJP.”

With the PMC planning to start a medical college in the name of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee from this academic year, the standing committee of the civic body has approved 1.97 crore for furniture, and over 62 lakh for buying various books as part of the initial purchase

Earlier on October 16, the central government gave its clearance for the PMC-run Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical College to begin from this academic year. The medical college will be located at and attached to the Kamala Nehru hospital and Naidu hospital in the city. This year, a total 100 students will get admission and constitute the first batch.

The ruling BJP claimed that various civic projects were pending and were completed during the past five years. “We upgraded the Naidu Hospital and even the civic body run medical college is coming there from this academic year. The water pipeline and drainage lines were old and were replaced,” said Archana Patil (BJP).

BJP leaders also claim credit over approving river beautification project, which will benefit most areas under Bhavani peth. Earlier last month, the civic body approved river beautification project under Pune River Rejuvenation project. The PMC has also invited bids worth Rs360 crore for the first phase of the riverfront development project for development of Mula-Mutha River from Sangamwadi to Bund Garden Bridge (Stretch-9).

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Saturday, December 04, 2021