19 May 2008

Save the "Oxford of the east"

Once a lovely city, famed as the pensioners paradise & "Oxford of the east" - Pune has now outgrown that image. At times, when I get stuck in a traffic jam (which is becoming the norm these days), I get the feeling, I'm breathing in a smoke chimney. Not a joke here - nor an exaggeration! Indeed the traffic and pollution scenario in Pune seems to be worsening day by day.

Probably its the heavy influx into the city since the last 2-3 years that has added to the situation. Real estate in Pune has become an attractive option for many Mumbaikars & outsiders. Also the city is rapidly expanding on the IT & industrial front - adding to its fold many citizens and an equal number of vehicles.

Roads in Pune have traditionally been narrow alleys. No wonder then that Pune counts amongst cities in India with the maximum 2-wheeler density. And nowadays you get the feeling that the best vehicle for navigating in and around Pune is a bike. If you doubt that - travel in Pune and check out for yourselves how these two-wheelers zip in and out of traffic with ease. Planning to study in Pune or take up a job in Pune ? Then do plan to bring along that two-wheeler you have at home.

Whats worsening the situation is the time PMC takes to clear infrastructure projects & road-building initiatives in the city. There have been many consultants appointed over these years but its not clear where their reports end up. Take the plight of PMT buses. They seem overloaded and the schedules just seem so erratic. Stand on Pune-Satara Road to catch a bus for Pune station. Usually you'll find 5-6 buses for Shivajinagar coming by consecutively while you desperately wait to get hold of one carrying the Pune station nameboard.

Even now Pune remains a beautiful city. Much of what is lost can be regained. But it remains a lot on the initiative and zeal by authorities & citizens alike. Its not malls and theatres thats needed - the city needs more of breathing spaces.

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