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Civic budget moots projects that may remain on paper

Pune

Scepticism about the plans for the city floated in the civic budget is on the rise.

The standing committee, which presented a Rs 6,000-crore budget for 2017-18 on May 13, proposed a tunnel connecting Pashan and Kothrud to reduce traffic congestion. It also planned digital schools when the civic body has failed to provide school material like books and uniforms to students on time.

In the previous years, bud gets have included equally grand plans like making Pune a free Wi-Fi city, 100% slum rehabilitation in a year, a special bus service for IT professionals and aPMC-run medical college.

An earlier standing committee had proposed a medical college in 2011-12 for 200 doctors who were expected to join PMCrun hospitals. Seven years after it was announced, the same project has been introduced in the current budget.

"Approvals from the authorities at the state and central-level are needed for such a college, but officials did not follow it up. Other municipal corporations such as Navi Mumbai and Mumbai have such colleges," Arvind Shinde, former chairman of the committee, said. He had proposed it in his budget six years ago.

Affordable public health system is the need of the hour. The doctors coming out of civic hospital will render services in the civic medical facilities. Many services will be available at cheaper rates, while some can be provided free, the budget statement for 2017-18 said. A provision of about Rs 12.5 crore was made a few years ago for 25 buses with laptops, cellphone chargers and liquid crystal display screens to ferry IT professionals to and from their companies in Hinjewadi, Kharadi and Ranjangaon. It has been repeated this year.

Old projects announced shuttles to Lohegaon airport from Kothrud, Katraj and Hinjewadi.

"A genuine intent and better planning is needed to carry out public transport projects. These announcements are made for personal interests of leaders and civic officials. They reach the tendering level and then fizzle out," Jugal Rathi, founder of PMP Pravasi Manch, a group for public transport, said.

The Pashan to Kothrud tunnel through the hills is not new. The development plan had proposed a tunnel for Satara Road, but flak from citizens has kept this project on the backburner. Citizens are doubtful about new tunnel too.

"Vehicular population on Karve Road is already high. If more vehicles are going to be added to this road through the tunnel, it will add more pressure on this road," Prasanna Kamalaskar, an engineer, said.

Neha Deshmukh, a teacher, said the tunnel will help reduce traffic. "It can be a good idea only if it does not harm any natural resources during the construction process," she added. Promises for free Wi-Fi have remained on paper for over 10 years. It was first announced in 2006-07 and repeated in 2016-17. But the project is yet to become a reality." A pilot project was carried out at Sambhaji Garden on J M Road, but security issues stymied it," a civic official said.


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