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Rs 1K cr spent in 13 yrs yet Pune’s BRTS dream far from reality

The splurge of public money has now attracted the attention of elected representatives, who are demanding a financial audit on expenditure

pune Updated: Jun 11, 2019 14:55 IST
Abhay Khairnar
Abhay Khairnar
Hindustan Times, Pune
The BRTS lane (left) on Pune- Satara road is currently too narrow for buses to ply on. Work is now on to rectify the error.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has spent Rs 1,000 crore over a 13-year period on a 5.8km bus rapid transit system (BRTS) stretch on the Pune-Satara road.

That BRTS route, which runs between Katraj and Swargate, was the first to be laid out in the city, and continues to be in disarray even today.

The splurge of public money has now attracted the attention of elected representatives, who are demanding a financial audit on expenditure.

For PMC, Satara road has been a laboratory where the civic body has been carrying out various road ‘experiments’ since 2006.

It first introduced BRTS and then revamped it on various occasion, the most recent being in 2016.

On every occasion, the civic body has spent crores of rupees on the trials (and errors).

Currently, the Pune Municipal Corporation has undertaken rectification work of this BRTS stretch, for which Rs 105 crore has been allotted.

A BRTS wall near Padmavati has been demolished in 2019, as the existing one was narrow and of inadequate width to allow buses to traverse.

Corporators, across party lines, none of whom are willing to come on record at this point in time, allege that the cost of this BRTS rectification should not go beyond Rs 20 crore.

“PMC is spending Rs105 crore on it and the work is not even completed,” is the chorus.

Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Gopal Chintal says, with some sarcasm, “Satara road is for doing various experiments and spending money. BRTS started on this road in 2006. Every year, some work takes place on this road. It shows poor planning. There is a need to audit this stretch.”

Former standing committee chairman Vishal Tambe says, “Work on this 5.8km stretch has never ended. Even today, work is going on. Now, PMC is spending

~105 crore to rectify the bus rapid transit system. This is exorbitant.

“Earlier, the tender was for Rs 78 crore, and now another Rs 30-crore tender has come up for it. If we compare the cost of this road with other roads, everything will get exposed.”

NCP leader Nitin Kadam has written a letter to the municipal commissioner demanding an inquiry into the expenditure for this road.

Kadam alleges that the Pune Municipal Corporation administration erected a narrow BRTS lane and now, when they realised that buses are not able to pass on this stretch, PMC demolished the walls to rebuild a dedicated lane.

Kadam claims that total expenditure for demolishing the walls is Rs 24 lakh.

“PMC officials and contractors are responsible for this,” Kadam says.

Rajendra Shingve is a resident of Satara road and he is tired of the work going on forever.

“Some part of this road is always closed for traffic due to ongoing work. PMC erects something and in a few months is demolishing it. It shows poor planning.”

This is a new way to keep corruption going - keep work continuing on such a small stretch,” Shingve alleges.

IIT Bombay tech audit of BRTS soon: official

A technical audit, run by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, is now in the works, to estimate exactly what has gone into the Swargate to Katraj Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS).

A senior PMC officer, on condition of anonymity, said that the civic road department has put forward the proposal of IIT Bombay doing the technical audit of this BRTS route to the additional municipal commissioner.

“IIT Bombay will be appointed soon for auditing the Satara road BRTS and other road works as well,” the officer said.

The project cost of the 5.8km BRTS route has been inflated and elected members are now raising questions about the same.

Aniruddha Pawaskar, head of PMC’s road department, said, “The lanes were erected earlier. PMC had shifted the BRTS bus stops to the centre of the lanes. Hence, there is a need to increase the entire road width from 3.5m to 4.5m.”

Considering this, PMC demolished the earlier separation wall for the BRTS corridor near Padmavati.”

There is also a strong demand, across party lines, for a financial audit of all the works carried out on the Pune-Satara road as well as all BRTS routes in the city. Work on Satara road BRTS dates back to 2006.


First Published: Jun 11, 2019 14:29 IST