Monday Musings: How should Pune decide on the HCMTR project?
While not a tear was shed on the virtual scrapping of the futuristic Hyperloop project, there is merit in the opposition to the modifications proposed by deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar to HCMTRUpdated: Jan 20, 2020 15:39 IST
Till two months ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in Maharashtra was extremely keen on seeing the High Capacity Mass Transport Route (HCMTR) take off the ground. The previous Devendra Fadnavis government had envisaged this elevated six-lane road has been envisaged as an inner ring road of 35.96km with two dedicated lanes for the BRTS. The ambitious HCMTR was to have 26 stations and four lanes for four-wheelers with 17 up-ramps and 16 down ramps.
Ring roads exist in various forms in big metros within and outside India and help to not only de-congest arterial routes but also enable high speed commuting across the city. A ring road is undoubtedly a necessity for a megapolis and an emerging megapolis like Pune.
On January 17, the newly-appointed deputy chief minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar, had some new thoughts to offer during his first-ever meeting with top city officials. He declared that his Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP)-Congress government was not keen on the futuristic Hyperloop project between Pune and Mumbai, and that he was also keen on major modifications to the Rs 5,000 crore HCMTR project.
He directed the civic administration to scrap the six-lane elevated route and convert it into a ‘green corridor’, exclusively for public transport and suggested that the Neo Metro which has been planned in Pimpri-Chinchwad, should run on the HCMTR too, instead of the previously planned Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS). Neo Metro is a hybrid between the tram, metro, bus and BRTS in which metro coaches will run on tyres instead of heavy steel wheels.
While not a tear was shed on the decision to virtually scrap the untried and untested Hyperloop project, former city Congress president Abhay Chhajed and senior party corporator Aba Bagul wrote to Pawar urging him to reconsider the modification to the HCMTR. They felt that it was short-sighted as it would not suffice the city’s traffic requirements.
There is merit in this opposition because there have been instances in the city where narrow “one-way flyovers” have been constructed, such as the one at Paud Phata and on University Road, when instead a proper two-way flyover should have been constructed.
The HCMTR route has also been opposed by a number of citizen-centric organisations and residents in various localities such as Bopodi, Karvenagar, NIBM road and Vimannagar, who fear that the alignment will adversely affect housing societies on the route and will also damage the city’s green cover.
While the city, undauntedly, needs to proceed cautiously on the HCMTR project, what is in hand should not be lost. The new government must continue to give the highest priority to the Metro project, the work on which has already begun on various routes. It should plan adequate parking space at each metro station as has been done in New Delhi and should also augment the city bus service, the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd, (PMPML) so that the bus service and the metro run as an integrated transport solution for the city.
This is what the people of Pune are eagerly looking forward to.