Beautiful city needs smart plan: Lila Poonawalla
I came to Pune when I was three years old. My family came as a refugee after the partition of India. We were living in Sindh, Hyderabad. After coming to Pune as a child, I grew up and studied here. I went to Mount Carmel School and later on joined the iconic Fergusson College. After completing my education at Fergusson College, I went to another illustrious institution, the College of Engineering of Pune (COEP). I recollect Pune as being a city for students.
Lila Poonawalla, the first Indian woman to secure a degree in Mechanical Engieering. Former Chairperson, Alfa Laval India and TetraPak India. Recepient of the Padma Shri and Order of the Polar Star by Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, 2003. Established lila Poonawalla Foundation to provide scholarship, guidance and scholarship to promote professional education among aspiring girls.
I used to go to school and to college on a cycle. The roads were beautiful, well-maintained, and there was no fear of coming home late or meeting with an accident. It was a peace loving city.
The city of Pune since then has become totally unmanageable. It is impossible to venture on the road on a bicycle. Pune was always known as the Bicycle City of India and as the Oxford of East. But this is now only on paper; the actual fact is that the city’s infrastructure has outlived its existence. We have many industries and IT companies, thousands of scooters and cars have come on the roads and nd lakhs of young people both as students and working class, who have migrated from all over India and also from overseas.
Poona as it was called then, continues to fascinate me with our old memories. I still think of the Cantonment areas. Some of these areas have not changed and I shall mention few: Range Hills Khadki, Prince of Wales Drive, Sambhaji Park, the beautiful Empress Garden, RSI (Rajendra Singhji Institute), the Army territories and Miltary Hospital (MH).
In spite of all the problems that Pune is facing, I personally wouldn’t like to go and settle in some other city. I love my Pune and Pune has a remarkable future. It is one of the largest cities in India. It has beautiful colleges and other educational institutes. Comparatively, it is much safer here. Pune is very cosmopolitan. Different caste, creed and religions are staying and working with happiness. Employment opportunities are good. Travelling and comutation is still relatively easy. But the problem is that the city is growing beyond its capacity. Also there is a lot of garbage and no proper handling systems. If Pune has to remain as a most preferred city, the citizens will have to take responsibility of keeping the city cleanand disciplined.
I would like that this beautiful city is well planned. We should form a committee of citizens and municipalities along with other stake-holders like educational institutes, IT companies, engineering industries and automotive manufacturers How we can make it a smart city? How can the traffic flow without confusion and chaos? Can we breakdown all the dangerous, old structures and build modern roads? Can we have more plantations and toilets? The most important thing is how to maintain the facilities we build, how we can avoid the pollution?
Can Pune ban petrol and diesel vehicles? Can we have 100% literacy? There is so much to do and so little time. The infrastructure will have to be speeded up on a war footing. I have 6,000 girls who are supported by the Lila Poonawalla Foundation. We are already doing social work like giving education to girls from the 7th std to graduation. We are building toilets and upgrading the school. We are ready to shoulder more responsibilities of the city.