Pune Smart City project a failure, say opposition leaders, activists
Even as the Smart City Mission has completed five years, the city-based activist and opposition parties claim the scheme has failed as many projects are just on paper.
Pune currently is ranked 15th at the national level on the Smart Cities list.
Vandana Chavan, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and MP, said, “Smart City Project is a complete failure not only in Pune but at the national level and no one is answerable for the same. Now the government must think twice about forming a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) as there is no citizens participation. Even SPV is not answerable to citizens and the result is a failed project.”
Projects which did not get kick start are smart parking, bicycles, non-motorised streets, Bus rapid transit (BRT) system, river water cleaning, riverfront development, slum rehabilitation and affordable housing, IT connectivity, transit hub at Balewadi and Intelligent Transit Management System (ITMS) for buses.
Vivek Velenkar, a civic activist, said, “The government projected a picture that everything in the city will get smarter, but the ground situation is different. It is a complete failure. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is not speaking on the project.”
“If Pune is at the 15th spot at the national level despite the ground reality, we can imagine what happens in the remaining 85 cities,” he said.
Total hundred cities get selected under the Smart City Scheme.
Avinash Oak, a member citizen from Baner, said, “After the Smart city project was implemented we thought that our area would be developed completely. Wide footpaths were erected, but they have encroached. Even it is not possible to walk or pedal the cycle continuously on it.”
The project is divided into two parts, one was an area-based project (ABD) and another was a pan-city. In Pune Aundh, Baner and Balewadi area got selected as area-based project and mainly roads got developed under it.
Ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) members usually avoid making comments on the project at public events. Recently, city-based Sajag Nagrik Manch carried out the discussion on Smart City Project, but ruling BJP members remained absent during the discussion.
Despite repeated attempts to reach Mayor Murlidhar Mohol for a comment on the Smart City Project, he did not respond to the phone calls.
One of the officials from Pune Municipal Corporation(PMC) on condition of anonymity said, “It was expected that the Smart City Project would get good financial help from the central government, but we got little funds to execute the schemes.”
Rajendra Jagtap, former chief executive officer of Pune Smart City, said, “Some positive things happened through the smart city project in Pune. A smart control room was erected by PMC which remained useful during Covid-19. Smart roads are erected in Aundh, Balewadi and Baner and cycles on hire scheme have also been launched.”
“Placemaking was one of the major projects. But it is also true that many mega projects which were planned do not commence,” he said.