Pune is the largest city (metro area) in the country, which is not a capital city. It is very strategic and important for the state and the country from multiple standpoints – Manufacturing, Software, Education, Defense, Research, Heritage, Culture, etc. Over the past three centuries, it has played a key ‘thought leadership’ role for the country in politics, social reform, culture, industry and education.
And yet, we find that Pune’s development and planning is in a complete mess. Delhi gets a lot of attention, thanks to it being the capital of the country. Other metros (e.g. Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad) get some attention from the state governments. Unfortunately, Pune hasn’t really fit well in the priority schemes of the state or the center.
Ideally if the metro areas have their own governance (and budget allocation) mechanisms (like in many countries), the Pune metro area can take care of itself. Unfortunately in India, cities are not autonomous. They have to rely on the state and central governments for budgets, planning, approvals, etc.
How do we fix this situation? PMRDA is a good step…but not enough. Basically, what we need is strong city-centric lobbying with the state and central governments for all tactical and strategic issues!
Take the example of Pune Airport, Metro, PMRDA itself… pending for such a long time with no clear decision making and urgency. There are plenty of examples. The city doesn’t even have a ring road, even though it has been under discussion for decades. Public transportation is a mess (most probably the lowest percentage of commuters travel by public transit in Pune, as compared to other metros).
Given that Pune is not a capital city, the lobbying needs to be much more than that is being done by other metros. We have a much steeper slope to climb. Lobbying needs to happen at all fronts, across all levels – across sectors of industry, across levels of government and bureaucracy, etc.
Organizations like the Pune International Center, MCCIA, Local Media, Local Industry Leaders, and Education Leaders can play a big role in regularly highlighting the city’s issues. Ultimately, every Punekar should take this up as their responsibility to lobby for the city’s development agenda. I am trying to do my small bit via the social media (twitter). The effectiveness of social media is increasing day by day, and provides a good option for the ordinary citizen to highlight their issues.