– Kishor Pate, CMD – Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.
Pune – one of the fastest- growing cities in India – is the seventh-largest metropolitan city of India, and the second-largest in Maharashtra. Over the years, it has attained unprecedented momentum and dynamism on the back of its popularity both as an academic center and a business hub, with Information Technology having become the predominant industry driving its economy, job creation and real estate demand.
It goes without saying that Pune’s growth story is not a temporary phenomenon. The city will expand exponentially in the years to come, both geographically and economically. This will bring its own challenges with it, many of which are already manifest today.
To understand the challenges that urbanization poses to a city, one needs to examine the proportion of population and existing lack of social and physical infrastructure required to cater to the needs of this population. Obviously, the areas where lack is evident will pose increasingly bigger problems if we assume that population growth is assured and inevitable.
Without a doubt, the city planning authorities are not blind to this. The massive influx of inward migrating population into Pune has catalyzed a major rush for infrastructure up-gradation on all fronts. We are seeing a lot of efforts being put in to optimize road connectivity, parking facilities, public transport, electricity, waste management, water supply and land planning. Nevertheless, there is a need for increased pace and momentum. The city is looking forward to the new regime to take urgent real-time steps to ensure that its citizens are not deprived of basic services. Some of the areas that need to be focused on are:
Traffic and transportation:
- Use of advanced urban street designing for better roads, subways, walkways, overbridges and flyovers
- Develop better public transport which can reduce usage of individual vehicles (there are 46 lakh vehicles on Pune’s roads every day)
- Encourage carpooling and bike pooling initiatives. Encourage cycle-to-work concept, develop better accessible cycle tracks and discourage encroachment by motor traffic
- Focus on Metro, which will significantly reduce the daily travel time for commuters
- Address the mounting parking issues with more creative cost to parking in major areas, mechanized stacked parking facilities, etc.
Water supply management
Pune’s water supply – and its management – needs to be focused on priority. It has been estimated that about 30% of water is lost in distribution, the main causes being heavy leakages and imprudent household use. The Government should encourage the use of water cards as already being seen in areas like Nanded, and similar progressive initiatives.
Solid waste and storm water management
- Develop enough facilities to collect solid waste
- Increase civic education on waste segregation and improve efficiency of garbage collection
- Create organic compost systems which can be used for agricultural lands in nearby areas as fertilizer
- Improve channelizing of drainage systems and storm water drains which released into mass water bodies. The city has only 44% tertiary drains, and the primary and secondary drains are increasingly obstructed by silt. The municipal authorities need to get more proactive on cleaning these drains regularly
Sewerage and waste water treatment
All developed and developing areas should have access to underground drains (UGDs). Pune’s existing sewerage treatment capacity is not efficient, and a large volume of untreated water is released into its rivers. The Mula–Mutha rivers are polluted, as untreated domestic waste is being discharged into them. Likewise, Khadakwala Lake has also been polluted. Addressing these issues must become high-importance focus areas.
Sharp focus on housing
- Encourage the development of more integrated townships with walk-to-work options
- Encourage housing with open spaces for children and for Senior citizens
- Create more affordable value homes / low-cost housing and SRA schemes to help curb slums proliferation in the city
- Increase the pace of project completions via proactive policies to boost the availability of ready-to-move homes where they are needed the most. Given the massive increase in job opportunities in Pune, the supply of affordable, completed housing projects is insufficient when compared to under-construction projects
- Step up infrastructure creation in the fringe areas with low real estate rates to encourage migration to these areas, and also develop commercial development of these areas to give them economic strength
- Formulate and implement better zoning for commercial and residential usage
- Encourage sustainable real estate practices such as mandatory use of solar panels, rainwater harvesting, etc. in new residential projects, and in older projects wherever and to the extent feasible
Modernize public safety
- Encourage smart transportation with real-time tracking to ensure timely response to emergency situations. This includes geographically integrated systems for identifying caller location
- Increase public safety with better city surveillance systems and video analytics
While Pune’s inclusion in the Smart City program will doubtlessly address some of these areas, the benefits will not be uniform across all of the city’s ever-expanding boundaries. The vision of our city planning authorities must be all-encompassing and democratic to all regions. In particular, more attention needs to be given to the much-neglected gaothan areas which have not yet been included within the municipal limits because of various reasons.
In short, Pune must become a uniformly modern city, capable of handling urbanization growth – both now and in the future.