I visited the John F. Welch Technology Center of GE in Bangalore this weekend. They were celebrating the center’s 15th anniversary with a ‘Tech Mela’. Solutions from the various business units at GE were showcased. I have admired GE as a company, and their previous legendary chairman Jack Welch (I would highly recommend reading Jack Welch’s books about his management philosophy). This visit was a good opportunity for me the get a better understanding of their work.
The center (also referred to as GE ITC: GE India Technology Center) has over 5,000 R&D professionals working across healthcare, aircraft engines, transportation, energy and other GE verticals. This is the largest multi-disciplinary R&D center of GE in the world and more than 50% of the employees here have Masters or PhD degrees. The GE ITC is involved in supporting GE globally, as well as focusing on local/regional solutions for India and the emerging market.
I got a chance to interact with the head of GE ITC, Munesh Makhija (Managing Director, GE India Technology Centre Chief Technology Officer, GE South Asia). Here is a video of our interesting discussion (https://www.facebook.com/ge.tech.india/videos/vb.480156825343034/1075515979140446/?type=2&theater). It was good to hear about the overall focus and vision for the center, as well as their day to day activities and challenges. Hiring top talent is a challenge for every company and GE ITC is no different. Today, many top engineers want to work in software (and in startups), and this is a big hiring challenge. Along with their presence in Bangalore and Hyderabad, GE ITC is also trying to tap into the advanced manufacturing talent in Pune where they have a brand new state-of-the-art multi-modal manufacturing plant (inaugurated earlier this year). I suggested to Munesh that GE should seriously consider expanding their R&D activities in Pune. Pune is the biggest center for manufacturing in India and hosts many advanced manufacturing capabilities across large and SME companies, including a large talent pool.
Healthcare is one of the biggest groups at the GE ITC and is involved in developing solutions across imaging, maternal health, critical care, surgery and other areas. Solutions for the global market, as well as India/Emerging Market are developed here. We got an overview of these solutions from Shyam Rajan, CTO, GE Healthcare India.
A new latest PET/MRI scanner was on display (IMAGE). This scanner can simultaneously carry out the PET and MRI scans of a patient. A low-cost, award winning CT scanner was also showcased, specifically targeted for the developing markets, where cost and space are big issues.
Some of the other technology areas on display included:
Transportation – Diesel Locomotives, Fleet Management, Marine Engines
Energy – Oil & Gas, Wind Power
Gas Turbine Power Generation, Electricity Distribution, Smart Grids
It is very interesting to note the diverse engineering and technology areas that GE is involved in. They are addressing the core problems in energy, transportation and healthcare. It was good visiting these various solution areas and learning more about the solutions and tech challenges involved. The kinds of problems being addressed include machine design, modeling & simulation, advanced materials, hi-tech manufacturing, data analytics, big-data, software programming, signal/image processing, structural design, electronics control systems, and many more.
I would have liked to see more of the aircraft engine technology on display. Unfortunately (I guess due to IP/competitive restrictions) couldn’t see a lot in this area.
I also got a chance to interact with Sukla Chandra General Manager, GE Global Research, Bangalore Director-Legal, Patents & Analytics Centre of Excellence. Patents are a big focus area for GE, and Sukla’s team is responsible for providing strategic IP support to GE Global Research and several other GE businesses. In addition the patents center, Sukla also co-leads the GE Women’s Network Initiatives for India. The patents legacy of GE goes all the way back to the founder, Thomas Edison (who is credited with more than 1000 patents).
As part of the Tech Mela Event, GE released an info-graphic on their work in India (good summary): http://www.slideshare.net/GE_India/ge-reiterates-its-commitment-to-design-make-in-india-52449008
Six years and crores of rupees later, the ‘famed’ BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) Project in Pune has achieved nothing … well to be more precise – it has definitely made things a lot worse for all types of traffic.
I think Pune was the first city in India to start the BRTS Project – and what a pathetic role model it has created for others, that are interested in replicating this! Note – I am not against the BRTS concept…the key is proper planning & execution and ongoing implementation. And it here, where things seem to have gone horribly wrong.
This weekend, I was driving to Hadapsar (thankfully, I don’t drive there often) and again witnessed the utter chaos and anarchy surrounding the BRTS. There are no clear lane markings for where the dedicated BRTS lanes start/end. The lanes are not properly marked and barricaded at many spots. I could see absolutely no enforcement on who can and cannot go through the BRTS lanes. As a result – total traffic anarchy persists – many 2/4 wheelers were merrily going through the BRTS – some by intent, and some by the misfortune of not figuring out where the lane started. But there was no one to prosecute them.
Many buses were not using the BRTS lanes. And then there were those poor pedestrians – stuck in the middle, near those BRTS Bus-Stops! They had no proper way to get to and fro, from these bus stops (which are also pretty poorly designed). If you thought the anarchy couldn’t get worse, it does – at the signals! Again, no vehicles seem to have a clear idea of when/where/how to turn. And this scenario gets even more scary at night – with no proper reflectors, signs, etc. I can go on and on about this horrible scene, but I think most Punekars get the picture and have experienced it first hand.
How did we land up in this total mess? I am not an expert, but even a layman can attribute the current state of affairs to bad planning, terrible execution and atrocious ongoing implementation.
The scary thing is that now, PMC wants to expand this bad mistake to other routes. Soon Solapur Road and Satara Road will share their pain and misery with Alandi Road and Nagar Road. And there are plans for the PCMC areas as well.
It (and has been since much before 2007), is amply clear that Pune’s Bus Transport – PMPML is in a poor state. The buses are in a bad state of maintenance. Passenger comfort seems to be least of the concerns. There are frequent breakdowns. The number of routes and buses are grossly inadequate.
Pune is one of the fastest growing metros in the country and has one of the highest number of 2/4 wheelers per person. (higher than Mumbai as well). The need for good public transportation is extremely crucial. What is needed for Pune Public Transportation is: more buses, better bus maintenance, better passenger comfort, better routes, better frequencies, better bus stops and supporting infrastructure. Those many crores that have been poured into the BRTS could have achieved some progress, towards pursuing these simple and basic PMPML needs. Another area where substantial investment is needed is manpower and other resources for Pune Traffic Police.
Given what we have seen over the past 5 years – I think it is time for Punekars to demand some real tough decisions and actions. This mess has to be fixed. First, the expansion of BRTS needs to stop. Second – if in a realistic time frame (say 6 months), the current BRTS implementation is not fixed – then, the entire current BRTS implementation should also be scrapped. Let those badly planned lanes be opened up for the general traffic (including buses). Let us invest whatever budget that is earmarked for BRTS into improving PMPML!
(post updated: Jan 21, 2013: There was some disconnect across two data sources – the summary web report and the pdf reports. I was going by the web summary,which had Pune projections at 11 million. While the pdf report was 10 million. Now looks like both of them are in synch, and state the Pune projection as 10 million. Updating the post as well as the title. Per the 10 million projection, Pune will be tied at #5 spot with Bangalore….)
A recent McKinsey Report on India’s Urbanization examines the trends around the growth in urban population centers. It presents a comparison across the 2008 population numbers with the 2030 forecasts.
Here are some interesting findings in the report:
– By 2030, the number of Indian Cities with a population of 1 Million or more will grow from 42 to 68
– By 2030, 5 states will have more than 50% population living in urban areas.
– From 1971-2008 India’s urban population grew nearly 230 million. The next 250 million in urban India will be added in half the time.
For more insights and data points, do take a look at: India’s urbanization: a closer look (report, interactive graphic and audio commentary).
The interesting observation in this report, from a Pune perspective is that it will be one of the fastest growing cities over the next 2 decades, nearly doubling its population to 10 million. In the process, it will likely overtake Hyderabad and tie up with Bangalore to take up the #5 spot (behind Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai).
While the population of Pune doubles, the rest of the urban infrastructure load factors (land, water, power, vehicles, etc.) will grow at a much faster rate. (4 times,5 times…even 10 times). This raises a long list of serious questions about infrastructure planning.
In this blog post, I have attempted to highlight a few questions/discussion items that come to mind. I will try to expand on some of these topics in further detail in future blog posts.
What will be the new residential/industrial areas of Pune in 2030? Where will the growth happen?
Like Mumbai, would heavy/manufacturing industry shift out of the city?
How would the existing land redevelopment happen?
What would the city’s economy look like? Services vs. Manufacturing Split?
Let’s take one example of the city’s borders… will Pirangut be a part of 2030 Pune City?
Will the Mumbai-Pune Expressway essentially become one big urban highway?
Pune’s water supply comes from the Panshet-Varasgaon-Temghar-Khadakwasla Dams. For a long time Pune has been blessed with a surplus water supply, but the first signs of trouble are already evident (as we have been seeing in the month of July in recent years…). According to a rough estimate the present storage capacity of these dams is more than 2 times that of Pune’s requirement (that is assuming all water is used only for Pune City).
Pune’s water needs in 2030 will be much more than 2 times the present requirement. Where is the remaining water going to come from?
Some might come from Pavana dam? Maybe?
Will any water from Mulshi Dam (presently used for power generation and downstream Kokan requirements) be diverted for Pune?
Any other dams nearby that can supply water to Pune?
Note – any extra water for Pune is going to come at an expense to crop irrigation. This will be a very tough issue to resolve.
What water management projects (e.g. rain water harvesting, sewage recycling) will be implemented?
Maharashtra is already reeling under power deficit. The power requirements will grow non-linearly (much more than 2 times).
I feel (maybe I am completely wrong!) that the power situation might be relatively less difficult to tackle than the other infrastructure issues? More power plants need to be built!
What types of power plants? (Nuclear/Gas-based/Thermal)
Will alternative energy play any meaningful role by 2030 to meet Pune’s needs?
A lot of discussion/debate is already in progress around the Pune Metro and other mass transit systems. I will not add to that here in this blog post. But suffice to say, that this will be a very critical issue. By 2030, will Pune have:
An underground (at least in some densely populated parts) metro?
Truly dedicated pedestrian and bicycle zones?
A good ring road to divert highway traffic out of the city?
High-Speed (greater than 200 kmph) train links to Mumbai and other cities?
A city of 11 M in 2030 needs a good 2 runway international airport.
If the current Chakan site is not feasible, what are the alternatives?
Will the proposed New Mumbai airport near Panvel be able to meet some of Pune’s air transportation requirements?
Are multiple smaller regional airports one possible solution?
What kind of quality of life will the Punekars have in 2030?
How does the city scale up while maintaining its green spaces?
What kind of FSIs would we be looking at?
What pollution/smog levels will Pune face in 2030?