Pune civic body to focus on 50 traffic signals which led to chaos during monsoon last year
The tall claims of Pune being a smart city turned into a naught last year after heavy rains in parts of western and central Pune led to non-functional traffic signals
Pune traffic branch has handed over a list of at least 50 traffic signals located at strategic locations at all arterial chowks in the city to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
It has asked the civic body to keep the traffic signals functional during peak monsoon season amidst heavy rains.
The tall claims of Pune being a smart city turned into a naught last year after heavy rains in parts of western and central Pune led to non-functional traffic signals.
Areas like Ghorpadi, Fatimanagar, Wadgaonsheri, Vimannagar, Kalyaninagar, Empress Garden and Pune Cantonment, Raja Bahadur Mill road, Aundh road, Deccan, Sinhagad Road, Tilak road, Swargate, Navi peth, Bopodi and Katraj, witnessed protracted traffic jams because of signal breakdown after first heavy downpour last year. This exposed the ill preparedness of the civic body for the monsoon season.
Pankaj Deshmukh, deputy commissioner of police (traffic), said, “We are coordinating with the PMC and have given them a list of 50 signals and hopefully this year the signal breakdowns will be less.”
“We have also briefed the mayor about power outages and traffic signal malfunctioning and the PMC has promised to take adequate steps in this regard,” said Deshmukh.
The PMC traffic signals repairs department also confirmed that they have received the list from the traffic branch and necessary steps were being taken for the same.
Prashant Inamdar, convenor, Pedestrian First, said that PMC must wake up to an important issue of failure of traffic signals during monsoon. “PMC must shake off its casual approach towards issues which relate to life and death of the citizens,” he said.
“We want the work to be done before monsoon so that citizens are not inconvenienced,” said Inamdar.
During the last monsoon, the traffic police and civic administration were found to be ill-equipped for this mass breakdown and had to run between Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad to repair these 50 signals. The two teams, consisting of an electric engineer and traffic police personnel, are responsible for all surveillance and maintenance of at least 400 traffic signals across the city.
The teams are directly connected with the traffic control room and, after receiving a call regarding a defunct signal from the control room, they have to head to those spots for immediate repairs.
According to the traffic police, most of the signals had malfunctioned after rainwater had entered into the wiring last year. PMC’s signals repair team prefers to repair them during the day as, at night, there is the possibility of getting electric shocks if the team members accidentally touch the wrong wire.
Inamdar said, “The maintenance system is not geared up to handle the monsoon. The work was expected to be done under the Smart city project, but the situation on the ground is that old and outdated signals still exist along with faulty cables.”
“At some places, cables are hanging from pole to pole. PMC is carrying out only temporary work without finding out a permanent solution to this crucial issue which leads to traffic jams for hours together during monsoon,” said Inamdar.
“They should get the latest technological infrastructure and boost signals infrastructure at the earliest,” he said.
PMC electricity supply department officials maintained that their teams were ready to handle any kind of eventuality for the monsoon season. And will ensure that all the signals remain functional even during heavy rains.
Pre-monsoon preparedness meeting
The city traffic branch will be holding a pre-monsoon preparedness meeting in the first week of June. PMC’ s traffic department and the traffic police will discuss how to coordinate and clear parking on road. They will also come up with a plan to encourage motorists to park in public parking lots during monsoon season avoid congestion.
Reality check: Residents allege roads floods as monsoon arrives
Pune Municipal Corporation has set a deadline of May 31 to clean the road drainage chambers ahead of monsoon. Hindustan Times visited arterial roads in the city which the PMC claims will not flood this year.
One such spot is opposite Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai Ganapati, on Shivaji road. “Every year during monsoon, this road gets flooded with garbage and dirty water. The water also seeps towards Pasodya Vithoba Chowk and enters the shops which are in the basement,” said Arun Nerlekar of Nerlekar book depot.
According to Nerlekar who lives in the same area, “The chambers are never cleaned and when the drainage covers are kept open for rainwater to flow, people throw garbage into it.”
Ashish Mahadadalkar, ward officer, Vishrambaug Wada ward office, said, “We regularly clean the storm water chambers, but we have noticed that this chamber is connected to three pipelines thus causing a flood-like situation during monsoon.”
“We have requested Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to look into the matter,” he said.
“When we were cleaning the chambers, disposable cups and other garbage was found in huge quantity,” added Mahadadalkar.
Other chronic spots are at Kondhwa in Itanagar and Bhagyodayanagar.
Mohshin Sheikh, a rickshaw driver from Kondhwa, said, “PMC states that they clean up the drainage chamber, but I have never seen any chamber cleared of the mud and garbage. Every year when it rains the garbage starts floating on the roads.”
“The stinking water comes into our homes. And it is not safe for our children and other family members,” said Sheikh.
Other such chronic spots are located at Dhankawadi, near KK Market turning, Koregaon Park, North Main road near the pump house and at Nilayam chowk, Sadashiv Peth.
In Kothrud, there is a chronic spot on the left side of Bhusari colony on the main road.
“We have raised several complaints and even asked the ward office to look into the issue. This year they came and have cleared it but I can guarantee that this area will flood again,” said Shubhangi Jamdadi, a resident of Bhusari colony.
A regular at this spot, rickshaw driver Ganesh Pardeshi said, “Despite an assurance from the PMC, I have seen this spot flood within minutes when there are heavy rains. It also causes traffic jams due to on-going metro work which obstructs the road.”
Meanwhile, in Baner, the Aundh-Baner ward office has undertaken the cleaning of chambers from Parihar chowk to Baner Gaothan. “So far we have cleaned 11 drainage chambers. Most of the chambers are filled up to the brim with mud and garbage. It takes about an hour and a half to clean one chamber,” said Ashwini Langhi, junior engineer, overseeing the cleaning of the chambers.
Amit Kulia, a florist off Baner main road, said, “Though the PMC is cleaning up the chambers, once it starts raining the roads get flooded, causing traffic snarls. This also is risky for motorists there are chances of their vehicle slipping.”