Monday Musings: Pune is certainly ‘best Indian city’; but why?

How can a city that suffers from abysmal neglect of mass transport, qualify as India’s best city?

pune Updated: Aug 20, 2018 14:52 IST
Abhay Vaidya
Abhay Vaidya
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Monday Musings,best Indian city
Pune suffers from inequitable water supply, acute river pollution and deteriorating air quality. The residents in many areas were dependent on water tankers for their water supply during the summer season. (HT FILE PHOTO )

The Ministry of housing and urban affairs’s very first ‘Ease of Living Index 2018’, ranked Pune as the best among 111 major cities in India to live in.

The cities were compared on four parameters- institutional (governance), social, economic and physical infrastructure, and the results released by the ministry were most unexpected. Pune was followed by Navi Mumbai, Greater Mumbai, Tirupati and Chandigarh to bag the first five slots.

The resource-rich national capital was ranked 65- very close to Pimpri-Chinchwad which stood at 69. The big metros and state capitals which Pune envies, also did not find a place in the Top 10. Chennai was the closest at rank 14; Bengaluru at 58, Ahmedabad at 23 and Hyderabad at 27.

So how did this happen?

Among the four parameters and 78 indicators on which the cities were judged, Pune, ironically, got its highest rank (2) for indicators such as transportation and mobility, assured water supply, wastewater management, solid waste management, and reduced pollution among a total of nine indicators.

We, Puneites, know our city better and this is where we stop taking this survey too seriously. How can a city that suffers from abysmal neglect and want of mass transport, inequitable water supply (remember HT’s water affidavits expose?), acute river pollution and deteriorating air quality qualify as India’s best city?

For the sake of record it may be noted that Pune scored 8 in governance, 5th in identity and culture, education, health, safety and security; 7th in economy and 2nd in physical indicators.

It is interesting to note that the cities which ranked ahead of Pune in governance included Bilaspur in Chhatisgarh, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Kochi.

Yes, Pune is certainly strong on education, safety and security for its residents, especially women; health (with numerous hospitals and clinics) and economy, with the continuing generation of jobs in the IT sector, manufacturing and service sectors.

Pune has a strong ethos of inclusiveness and tolerance which we must all cherish and preserve. It is blessed with salubrious weather round the year, barring the four summer months; proximity to Mumbai and ample water supply on per capita basis although the distribution is inequitous.

It is these factors which have contributed most substantially to Pune’s culture, growth and economy in spite of the high corruption in the Pune municipal corporation, poor civic governance and planning.

It can be strongly argued that Pune has a magnetic appeal: Having lived in the city once, you want to settle down here, especially in your years of retirement which is why this city was once famed as a ‘Pensioner’s paradise’.

I find the national survey amusing, but agree that Pune is one of the best cities to live in. Let us residents, strive to make it better.

abhay.vaidya@htlive.com

First Published: Aug 20, 2018 14:51 IST