MVA govt completes a year: Hits and misses of Pune development projects
When Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as chief minister of Maharashtra on November 28 last year, six others also took an oath with him though none of them was from Pune. A month later, three others – Ajit Pawar, Dilip Walse Patil and Dattatray Bharane – were sworn in during the first cabinet expansion of Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
With three ministers including Ajit Pawar, who is deputy CM, Pune could have been top on government’s priority list of development projects even as not a single major project was announced for Pune in past 12 months as Covid-19 hit its finances.
A year later, most big projects like the proposed airport at Purandar, extended routes for metro rail, High Capacity Mass Transit Route (HCMTR) and ring road have also not seen any development, while a project like Hyperloop has been scrapped.
The proposed international airport at Purandar on the eastern part of Pune district was one of the most ambitious projects of previous Devendra Fadnavis government, which had identified land and was to begin its acquisition when there was a change in government in the state.
After Shiv Sena-NCP-congress government came to power, not much happened till October when all of sudden, Pawar ordered the administration to explore three new sites for the project in the same tehsil due to opposition from local MLA Sanjay Jagtap. A month and a half later, the administration has not yet completed finalising new site, putting a question mark on the feasibility of the project itself.
Outer ring road project
The outer ring road, planned by Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) hasn’t seen any progress as the project is facing fund crunch as a result of which land acquisition could not be expedited. Conceptualised around 12 years ago, the 128-km route, once complete, will allow heavy vehicles to cross the city without entering into it.
HCMTR or inner ring road and metro
Another crucial project for city - HCMTR or inner ring road – has also been put on the back burner by this government. The project which was to be developed jointly by PMC and state government is nowhere near start with Ajit Pawar raising some questions over it.
The work on existing Metro rail project has also slowed due to pandemic with completion plan delayed by two years while no fresh route has been approved.
Work in progress
On the other hand, MVA expedited work on Bhama-Askhed pipeline work, which is crucial for bringing water to parts of eastern Pune. Similarly, the state government agency PMRDA has razed University circle flyover to facilitate work on the proposed Hinjewadi-Shivajinagar metro route.
At the same time, there has been some progress on Pune-Nashik rail project as Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (MRIDC) had floated tenders inviting civil contractors for constructions of tunnels and other ancillary work related to the Nashik-Pune rail project and other projects that are taken up by it.
“Our government had expedited work on Bhama Askhed project while enough fund has been provided to the metro rail project. The SPPU flyover demolition plan, which was pending, was quickly executed during the lockdown. Covid has indeed delayed many things including metro work, the airport project has also been unnecessarily delayed,” said NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade.
Pune was the worst affected district due to Covid as the number of total positive cases along with fatalities was very high, prompting shortage of beds in the city between July and September.
Tussle between MVA and BJP
Civic activist Qaneez Sukhrani said nothing has been achieved in the city to improve the lives of people. “Situation is unstable as both MVA at the state level and BJP controlled Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are concentrating on politically outdoing one another. So nothing is achieved in the interest of the general public.”
The city has total of eight MLAs of which six are from BJP while two are NCPs. The Congress and Shiv Sena have no representation in Pune.
“This government has taken Pune ten years back with no new announcement of any project or lack of progress on already announced ones. On Covid management in Pune, which was worst affected, the government was lethargic – be it bringing jumbo facilities, increasing beds or preventing deaths,” said BJP legislator from Shivajinagar Siddharth Shirole.