Metro work hits roadblock on Old Mumbai-Pune highway due to absence of road width
The Pune Metro work has hit a roadblock on the stretch of Old Pune Mumbai highway in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limit from Khadki railway gate to the All-Saints high school junction.
The work has been stuck due to a lack of road width. The PMC has highlighted serious traffic problems if Pune Metro moves ahead with constructing pillars at the centre of the highway. On the other hand, Metro officials are trying to find a solution to resolve the problem.
On January 23, 2017, MahaMetro began construction work on the Pune Metro stretch of PCMC to Swargate. The route is 16.6 kilometres (km) long starting at Dr Ambedkar chowk near the PCMC main building.
This metro route is elevated until Range Hill and then descends gradually, reaching ground level near the College of Agriculture. The stretch has 11.5 km of elevated work with nine stations. There are five underground stations, and the total stretch of underground metro rail is 5.1 km. It includes Shivajinagar bus stand, Civil court, Phadke houd, Mandai and Swargate stations.
In the month of January 2021, the Maharashtra Metro Railway Corporation Limited (MahaMetro) completed a six-kilometre stretch between PCMC and Phugewadi of Pune Metro and successfully conducted a trial run last month which is the priority stretch of the Pune Metro project.
But it is not operational for the public because of incomplete Metro stations on the six km stretch.
The work on the stretch from PCMC to Harris bridge was smoothly underway before the issue of road width arose.
The problem exists within PMC limits from railway gate No. 20 (Khadki) to 800 m towards All Saints high school junction due to lack of road width.
The civic body wants 42-metre road width in this stretch to solve traffic problems and implement the Bus Rapid Transport (BRTS) system on this road from Harris bridge to Patil estate area (Shivajinagar).
If the metro constructs a pillar at the centre of the road, the proposed BRTS is not possible on this road. Besides that, highways become narrow and could cause huge traffic problems as there is no alternate route to divert traffic on this highway.
Road width menace
The Old Pune Mumbai road is a critical arterial road which connects Pune with Pimpri Chinchwad. Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad have overburdened this road especially within Pune limits wherein the road width varies between 18m to 21m from Bopodi chowk to Range Hill chowk.
The width of the road within Pimpri- Chinchwad limits is 61m and adequate to cater to all modes of traffic. However, the width within PMC limits is not sufficient to cater to traffic especially in the second half of the day when heavy commercial and multi-axle traffic access the road.
The PMC has widened the road to 42m as per Development Plan (DP) sanctioned by the state government from Wakdewadi to Range Hill and the widening has been achieved in stretches for the section from railway gate No. 20, Khadki to Harris Bridge (Bopodi chowk) which is 700 m.
The intermediate stretch in Khadki Cantonment area which varies in widths from 20m to 21m is within the ambit of various defence units and the PMC has initiated the land acquisition process through the office of collector, Pune.
However, the financial constraint in the acquisition is inhibiting to PMC and hence, the transfer of Equal Value Land (EVL) has been initiated by the Defence Estate Office, Pune area.
On the 800-metre stretch where there is only 21m of road width on the Old Mumbai-Pune highway, as per sanctioned project plan, the Maha-Metro will have to construct around 25 pillars on the alignment from Khadki railway gate to All Saints high school junction.
Resolution in the works?
According to PMC road officials, “A joint meeting was convened by Maha Metro and chaired by the divisional commissioner, Pune division (DC) and PMC municipal commissioner (MC) along with officials from the road department in February 2021 wherein the hindrances in the execution of metro work was discussed due to the non-transfer of defence land by MoD. Based on this meeting, the divisional commissioner, Pune division and municipal commissioner along with officials from road department of PMC visited the Khadki station area on February 12, 2021, wherein the Maha Metro had arranged a presentation to explain the new proposed alignment in the 800m stretch from railway gate No.20, Khadki up to within the defence area on the Pune side.”
Dr Kunal Khemnar, the additional municipal commissioner of PMC said, “The discussion is going to resolve the problem at a higher level. Due to the lack of road width, traffic problems may arise in this stretch after constructing metro pillars. Therefore, widening a road in this stretch will be one of the solutions.”
Dr Jayashree Katare, the resident district collector said, “Mahametro has demanded land to widen the road of old Mumbai-Pune highway. It belongs to defence, however, the process has not been initiated yet.”
Jawahar Salunkhe, senior deputy general manager (civil) said, “On this stretch, Metro has proposed around 40 pillars. It was mentioned in the original Pune Metro plan. However, due to the lack of road width, the discussion is going on to re-align pillars in this stretch.”
Who will pay?
According to officials, the cost of land acquisition will be around ₹100 crore to widen the stretch of 800 metres. Now, the question has arisen: who is going to pay the amount? The civic body wants MahaMetro to pay the amount due to lack of funds in their coffer. On the other hand, MahaMetro is anticipating that PMC should have to pay land acquisition costs as they will benefit more after road widening.