Pune is in a jam: Why flyovers haven’t helped traffic congestion
In one of its document on Smart City project, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) states that the city ‘aspires to become global urban centre’. The document also has a footnote that mentions that the citizens of Pune enjoy safe and livable environment with good connectivity. However, the yearly Environment Status Report (ESR) of PMC offers a contrasting picture. The report suggests the city is witnessing alarming rise in the levels of air and noise pollution. The reality, citizens say, is grim.
With the vehicle density of 753 vehicles per 1,000 people, traffic that does not seem to move on city’s roads is a common picture. And while absence of mass transport is main cause of the traffic mess, city’s threadbare infrastructure is also a culprit, adding to the woes of city commuters.
With 450 square kilometres of area after the proposed merger of 34 villagers from surrounding areas, Pune is set to become one of the largest cities in India. The population of Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and adjoining cantonments has already touched 55 lakh and is expected to grow one crore by 2030.
The merger of 34 villages within the limits of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) is set to intensify pressure on civic body as it will further increase city’s population, and lack of long-term plan for infrastructure may worsen the situation.
According to senior urban town planner Ramchandra Gohad, given that city’s population will increase exponentially in the next few years, the focus of mass transport can no longer be city centric but holistic covering a large area. It was Gohad who had first proposed the integration traffic and transportation plan in 1972. In 1982, the PMC incorporated the proposal in Development Plan but did not implement it.
Gohad said, “From 1982 till 2017, Pune has grown beyond recognition. If the city’s traffic has to be improved, there is need for strong infrastructure in place which is currently lacking.” In the last few years, one of the common solution authorities from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad have offered to minimise the traffic chaos is to build flyovers. Around 40 flyovers have been built in various parts of the city.
While bottlenecks at intersections have often led to traffic jams, the number of flyover constructed all over to decongest the city have merely shifted congestion from one point to another, said Gohad. Interestingly, the civic body has admitted that some of the flyovers it built in the city, especially on Ganesh Khind road and Waked, have been designed wrongly. “This wrong design of flyovers has created more traffic problems than solution,” said Ranjit Gadgil, programme director, Parisar, which works on transport issues.
One of the common grumbles of citizens is perennial road repair undertaken by civic bodies. “There is no coordination between different government agencies. While one government body constructs new roads, another body carries out digging,” said Ashish Waghmare, a 24-year-old software professional.
Earlier this month when the city witnessed 27mm rainfall, the streets were flooded. More than the rain, poor stormwater drainage network was responsible for waterlogging, which led to massive traffic jams. So bad was the situation that even Central minister Jayant Sinha was stranded in the traffic. Sinha, who was on a city’s tour, said, “Pune is going the Bangalore way.” Even as the city is getting ready to join the Metro City club, Pune is witnessing many problems; the most acute being traffic and infrastructure.
The newly formed body Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) has now planned an outer road to decongest the city. The proposed 129-kilometer long ring road passing from the outer areas of the city will take the load of heavy vehicles while interior roads can be used for mass transport, said PMRDA commissioner Kiran Gitte.
“The PMRDA plans to improve the infrastructure of the Metropolitan Region by building Metro and Ring Road. We have already started working on it,” said Gitte.
The citizens expect pace in getting the infrastructure projects along with better traffic policing to avoid jams, which has become an everyday scene in the city. To prevent jam, the government say it is working on smart solutions.
In an exclusive interview published in the launch edition of Hindustan Times, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced installation of smart signal traffic system in Pune for smooth and efficient flow of traffic. The chief minister said, “The new system will analyse flow of long distance traffic movement and work according to the needs.”
The new system is expected to be rolled out within months as the tender process will be completed within 30 days, the chief minister said, adding that it will be the first-of-its-kind traffic management.
Activists say the common people have no option but to believe the politicians even if the promises have not been fulfilled in the past.