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Monday, February 21, 2011
Letter to Chief Minister demanding govt-appointed committee for Pune Metro
(This photograph had appeared in Sakaal Times)
Activists and citizens led by Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan have appealed to Chief Minister Maharashtra to form a Government-appointed committee of independent experts and Public Hearing by the State Government Officials to study the haphazardly and disastrously planned Pune Metro Project; to direct the state government to obtain environmental clearance from the MoEF before going ahead with the proposed project; to carry out the Techno-Economic Merits and feasibility of Underground BG vs Elevated SG in terms of costs per unit carrying capacity and; as part of the process of environmental clearance, a public hearing should be held in all the 14 wardsto ensure transparency of the project. Read on..
February 20, 2011
Mr Prithiviraj Chavan
Chief Minister, Maharashtra
Sub: Request for instituting a Government-appointed committee of independent experts and Public Hearing by the State Government Officialsto study the Pune Metro Project
We are proud to have you as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra as with your high educational background and vast experience at the PM office, your vision for Maharashtra is bound to be sound and practical-oriented.
We wish to bring to your notice the issue of the Pune Metro proposal which you have given a green signal to, early last week during your meeting with the elected representatives of Pune. No doubt that Pune needs a good public transport system so a metro fits into this futuristic vision. However, Sir, the metro in its present form is haphazard and disastrous for the public good, as has been pointed out by experts, backed by thousands of citizens.
Despite bringing the flaws of the present proposal to the notice of the administration and the corporators of the Pune Municipal Corporation, the proposal has been hurriedly passed. In fact, none of the 144 corporators had evenseenthe Detailed Project Report (DPR) (as per their confession) when the proposal was passed within a short time at the General Body early last year.
Following are the shortcomings of the Pune Metro Project proposal:
1. The DPR made by the DMRC does not adhere to the Terms of Reference set by the PMC as well as the central government guidelines for mass urban transport system. Thus, it contains technical inadequacies and is too superficial to be termed as a detailed report.Technical & Environmental objections raised by Pune Citizens, railway engineering experts, association of architects and urban planners and MCCIA’s s NGO Janwani, led by Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan, Pune Technical Committee have fallen on deaf ears.
2. The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the local political parties have been misguided on technical Issues, concerning adoption of Standard Gauge (SG) with Imported Narrow Width (2.9m) Low Capacity Coaches, at an abnormally high cost to the tax payer. The decision of the Group of Ministers taken in the year 2006, under the leadership of The Hon’ble Shri Sharad Pawar leads to a question of their authority to issue such a policy directives to adopt SG system by the State Govt., contrary to the provisions in the Constitution under articles 366 / 20 and 246 VIIth schedule list-I, and further leads to a technology scam, resulting in the loss of Rs 1,50,000 crore in planning of 1500kms of metros all over the country.
3. The15 km Pune Metro corridor between Vanaz and Ramwadi (Phase-1) which would cost Rs.3,000 odd crore as per the present estimate, is the least priority corridor as per the DPR. Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad (or rather the entire Pune Metropolitan Region) ought to have a composite traffic and transportation plan because the two neighbouring cities are very closely interlinked and thus have a bearing on each other. PCMC has already backtracked and wants to have its own separate Metro. So the metro plan for Pune aloneor for PCMCalone may either prove ineffective or problematic.
4. The DPRstates that citizens will be burdened with additional civic taxes after the construction of Pune Metro but no details have been provided. We urged the PMC to make it very clear what the additional financial burden on citizens would be, the period for which we will have to pay it etc before decision about the project is taken, but there have been no answers.
5. The Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) has not been taken into consideration at all while making the DPR. The Metro has also not been included into the present DP (of 1987) which is mandatory. The DP for the old boundaries has lapsed in its time frame and still is under planning stage. We have a great chance to combine the two and also the adjoining areas for better development of the city. A one-time solution like the elevated metro just because it is less costly, is not going to resolve all civic issues/ problems.Thus, the present form of Pune Metro is a stand alone white elephant and not a part of an integrated traffic plan as has been recommended by the CMP.
6. The present form of Pune Metro will be an elevated corridor running on congested arterial roads. E Sreedharan, the DMRC Chief and Ratnakar Gaikwad, former MD of MMRDA who was in charge of the Mumbai Metro project have gone record to say that no elevated corridor should come up on congested roads. Worse. as per the DMRC report, no vehicle parking place can be provided at the Metro stations as these are located in congested areas.
7. 4 FSI has been proposed for 500 mtr stretch on both sides of metro corridor to raise funds for metro. This densification will distort the fabric of the city and affect quality of life.
8. There is duplication between the Metro rail routes and other modes of transport such as BRTS, existing railway corridors and other networks. We must use all available transport resources optimally integrating Metro, BRTS, Railway, Bus, Cars, Autorickshaw, Cycles, and Pedestrians, to create a comprehensive network that covers most of the work and dormitory areas of Pune. This has not been considered at all.
9. The choice of the elevated option rather than underground option seems short sighted and will destroy the quality of built environment and urban aesthetics and hence image of city of Pune. The Metro should be underground rather than elevated as proposed for which financial feasibility details have been provided by railway engineering experts.
10.Metro is a very costly project and decision will impactthecity for 100 years and more. Ajit Pawar, who holds the portfolio of finance in the state cabinet, assured to make budgetary provision for the Rs.2,600 crore project, as per media reports. The state and Union governments will share 20% each, while the PMC will have to shoulder 10% of the cost. The remaining would have to be raised through loans. This means that Govt. of Maharashtra will have to foot the bill to the tune of 520 crores. Given that the current delicate financial state of Maharashtra, it should seriously consider cheaper alternatives which are do-able in Pune. Also we should know as citizens, what happens in case there is cost escalation? Will State and Centre each give 20% of escalated cost or will all that have to be borne by PMC?
Hasty decision if proved wrong later would be disastrous for the city. Ultimately it is we thecitizens who will suffer.
Hence, we demandthe following:
Formation ofa Government-appointed committee of independent experts and Public Hearing by the State Government Officials to study the haphazardly and disastrously planned Pune Metro Project
The State Government should obtain environmental clearance from the MoEF before going ahead with the proposed project
Techno-Economic Merits and feasibility of Underground BG vs Elevated SG in terms of costs per unit carrying capacity, should be addressed by the committee
As a part of the process of environmental clearance, a public hearing should be held in all the 14 wardsto ensure transparency of the project
We also seekanappointmentwith youat the earliest so that we can explain the issue through a power point presentation.