Pune civic admin unhappy as politicians plan 3 more high-mast, high-cost tri-colours
City already has a 45-metre-high flagpole at Shaniwarwada and a 75-metre high flagpole at Katraj lake, both erected at costs upwards of Rs One crore each and with a combined annual maintenance cost of Rs 12 lakh.Updated: Dec 14, 2019 16:35 IST
PUNE: Even as the BJP-led Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has decided to erect gigantic flag masts with the national tri-colour at three additional points in the city, the civic administration has expressed its displeasure over the rising number of such flag poles.
The city already has a 45-metre-high flagpole at Shaniwarwada and a 75-metre high flagpole at Katraj lake, both erected at costs upwards of Rs one crore each and with a combined annual maintenance cost of Rs 12 lakh.
On December 10, the PMC’s standing committee had approved the construction of three additional giant flag posts of 45 metres height across the city. According to Sunil Kamble, standing committee chairman, the annual cost of the three, newly-proposed flag posts is Rs 84 lakhs each and the PMC had already initiated the tendering process for them.
While civic activists and opposition leaders have criticised this “wastage of public funds,” the civic administration is contemplating a policy to restrict the number of high flagpoles in the city.
Shrinivas Kandul, head, PMC electric department said he has spoken to municipal commissioner Saurabh Rao and has asked him to bring in a policy to restrict the number of such flag poles in the city.
Each of the super-sized flags at Shaniwarwada and Katraj lake costs more than a lakh of rupees and more than three lakh rupees if they are made of parachute material. They have to be replaced frequently as they tend to tear in the high-speed winds, MNS corporator Vasant More had said in an interview.
On Tuesday, the standing committee, gave a nod for the erection of three more gigantic flag posts at Chima Garden in ward number 6, Raja Chhatrapati Shivaji Garden (ward number 5) and ward number 32. The proposals for these flagpoles were submitted by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members.
Hemant Rasane, the BJP leader who proposed the flag post at Shaniwarwada said it is a bad idea to have many such high flag masts in the city because then the uniqueness would be lost. He said he would speak to party leaders on the issue.
More, who had proposed the flag mast at Katraj said, “The maintenance cost is very high as the flag often tears up due to the wind. Before accepting any more proposals for high flag posts in the city, the standing committee must bear in mind the cost that comes with it. They should set a limit on the number of such flag posts in the city.”
Activist Vijay Kumbhar said, “The height of the flag posts is no indicator of patriotism. This is a waste of tax payers’ money. In fact, I will call this an anti-national activity as we are spending the tax payers’ money on unnecessary things. There are already are two tall flag posts in the city and we do not need anymore. Elected members who make such proposals should also reveal list of people from there ward who are demanding such high flag masts in their locality.”
Rs 46.85 lakh per year
In September, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) took a decision to pay a private firm ₹46.85 lakh annually to maintain the 107-metre high pole with the national flag at Bhakti Shakti chowk.
“The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation standing committee on Monday gave its approval for the project and the private firm will maintain the flag on the pole for eight months in a year, from October 1 to May 31,” said Sanjay Khabde, executive engineer, PCMC.
He said the flag won’t be hoisted during the four months during monsoon and tendering for next year will be conducted separately.
According to civic officials, the height of pole and wind cause the flag to tear frequently. The flag needs to be replaced every four or five days. The civic body checked the option of wind-resistant flag with the textile department of VJIT College Mumbai and, as per the latter’s consultation, decided to hire a private firm.
The decision led to criticism from various quarters. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Datta Sane said, “We all respect our national flag, but is it necessary to spend almost ₹50 lakh to a private firm to maintain the flag?”