From ET Realty
PUNE: This year promises to be a landmark in the city’s infrastructure development. Hopes are high about Pune’s inclusion in the central government’s ambitious Smart Cities Mission and the stage is set for the launch of the metro project.
Announcement of 20 Smart Cities early this month will mark the high point of new urban sector initiatives. Pune municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar is confident that the city is well ahead of other contenders.
“Pune can hope for government funds from various schemes and major investors will be attracted towards the city. With the brand Smart City, it will be a great chance for Pune to get featured among the important cities of India,” he said.
Pune has been shortlisted in the list of 100 probable smart cities, of which 20 will be eventually selected for the project. A source in the state government told TOI that the Union urban development department was satisfied with the PMC’s proposal and city stood a good chance.
Kumar assured that the Smart City Mission would not veer around Aundh and Baner, but entail infrastructure development of the entire city. The civic body is aiming at finding solutions to the city’s biggest woes – traffic congestion, water supply and solid waste management – through the mission.
“We hope the entire Pune city will get benefits of the Smart Cities Mission. The government must provide sufficient funds to the Pune Municipal Corporation. Revenue sources are shrinking and the state has also reduced the LBT grants. Funds for infrastructure are a must if the city has to keep pace with the rapid development,” said mayor Dattatraya Dhankawade.
Under the Smart Cities Mission, the Government of India’s funds and the matching contribution by the states and urban local governing bodies would meet only a part of the project cost. The rest of the money would be mobilized from user fees, beneficiary charges and impact fees, land monetization, debts and loans collected by states and urban local governing bodies.
Senior urban planner Ramchandra Gohad said there was a need to shift policies from creating physical infrastructure to delivering services. “The challenge before the city is to focus on governance reforms, citizens’ participation and inclusive development,” he said.
Financing large sums of money to meet the investment needs of urban infrastructure is dependent on the reform of institutions and the capacity of those who run them for service delivery and revenue generation.
“The city and the citizens will get benefits of good infrastructure development. As infrastructure and quality of life grows, the real estate is also getting a boost. Today, the city stands fifth in the country when it comes to the real estate development. Now we hope that there are major steps to boost affordable housing in 2016,” said Shantilal Kataria, president, Credai, Pune Metro.
City MP Anil Shirole is confident that the Modi-led government at the Centre would pay special attention to the fast growing cities like Pune.
“I am confident that the city’s overall picture will change in the coming days. The quality of living will improve as a result of the Centre and the state government’s approach towards the urban development,” he said.
Metro in final phase
Pune guardian minister Girish Bapat has assured that the technical problems of Pune Metro had been cleared and the project would start in 2016.
Bapat said the project had already been delayed and the state government had sent the proposal to the Centre. “The project is now in the final stage,” he said.
Civic activists and experts, on the other hand, continued to question the allocation of 4 floor space index (FSI) along the metro corridor. “We shall not allocate 4 FSI randomly. There will be a proper system to implement the project. Also, the state government will call a meeting of elected members to discuss the project,” said Bapat.
The new estimate of the metro project is pegged at Rs 11,522 crore – Rs 653 crore more compared to the last year’s figures. The estimated fare has gone up from Rs 8 to Rs 13 in first stage (0-2km). The citizens will now have to pay Rs 45 for a journey of 30 kms, when the project will be completed in 2018-19. As per the last estimate drafted in 2009, for the same journey, citizens had to pay Rs 27.
“It is up to the government to start the project now. All hurdles have been cleared and it is high time the government took a call,” said deputy mayor Aba Bagul.
Experts fear that if the project fails to take off in 2016, the fare will further go up and the project would lose it affordability. The year 2017 being the civic election year, all eight BJP MLAs and the party’s city MP will push for the implementation of the project in 2016