Now that the Central Government has given the green signal to the Metro in Pune, there is an urgent need to get some clarifications from the authorities. Metro-Rail is a good long term option for Pune – if designed and implemented well…Also, like any long ranging and super expensive project – it needs some detailed impact assessment and discussions. Thus far though, there are way too many open questions. It is definitely not an ideal scenario when so many basic questions lie unanswered. The residents of Pune cannot be in the dark on these open questions.
Many groups and transportation/civic experts from Pune (Pedestrians First, Parisar, NSCC,…) have raised these serious questions for a long time regarding the present proposed plan for the Metro. They summarized it again recently in a letter to the PMC, with a copy to the State and Central Government Authorities. The letter has been reproduced here – please click this link (scroll down the page, after clicking the link) at the Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti Website. The letter specifically highlights the questions pertaining to the first proposed corridor (Vanaz-Ramwadi), but some of the general questions are applicable for other proposed corridors as well.
I think as a first step, every Pune Resident needs to be aware of these issues. Secondly, they need to pressurize their elected officials and other authorities to get answers to these and other related questions!
Note, the time to raise the questions is NOW! Not when the construction starts and we have JCBs rolling down the roads.
Pune is adding close to 1,000 vehicles every single day. That is nearly 400,000 vehicles per year on the already cramped Pune roads. And this number is increasing every single day. At the current rate of the growth of the city, I won’t be surprised if Pune starts adding 1,500 or 2,000 vehicles per day, before 2018. These are scary numbers, from the point of view of the city traffic.
The only way for the city traffic to sustain itself in the medium term, is by encouraging more commuters to use public transit and reduce the reliance on private vehicles. Today, only 10-20% of Pune’s population relies on public transport. This needs to change. But in order the facilitate this change, the public transit system needs to improve..as soon as possible. The 2-wheeler rider has to have a credible alternative.
Planners talk about the BRTS, Metro, Mono-Rail – but these are long term measures. In the best case scenario, the first corridor of the Metro is at least 5-7 years away. What is needed urgently is an effective short/med term plan. Something that can be executed in under 12 months and put into implementation mode. Ideally, we should consider and act on both the short/med and long term plans simultaneously. One reason for the short term crisis is due to poor long term planning 10/20/30 years back. We cannot repeat that mistake.
I believe that the right short and medium term (next 5-10 years) solution for efficient public transportation in Pune is an improved regular bus transit system. We need many more routes, with higher frequencies, and well maintained buses. We need mini-buses to enable good routes to crowded areas in the city center. High frequency mini-buses are also needed because the relatively short distances that people cover can, otherwise, be done by private vehicles. The bus service needs to operate with well-designed point-to-point, circular and hub-and-spoke routes. We also need long range buses that have less stops for the longer routes (e.g. Deccan to Hinjavdi).
Pune has a circular geography (like London, Delhi … and unlike Mumbai, New York City). Hence I think high capacity mass transit corridors (like 1-2 Metro Lines or 2-3 BRTS corridors) will not help majority of the population. They are needed..yes…but not at all adequate. Given Pune’s geography, a ring road will definitely help. Circular ring-road bus routes can connect with local routes.
Note, if we really wanted to serve such a circular geography with the Metro, we may end up needing 7-8 Lines (like in London or Berlin) and we know that this is clearly infeasible in the next 15-20 years.
Also, worth noting that many of the bus transit related improvements can be done for a fraction of the cost of the Metro Line and BRTS Corridors, and can be done fairly quickly, unlike the Metro. Even BRTS has taken more than 5 years and we are far from any decent implementation.
Take the example of the Hinjavdi IT Hub. 5 years from now, we may have 300,000 people working and commuting from there. And yet, there is no Metro route even in the planning stage for that area! What Hinjavdi needs right away is a series of comfortable (AC) buses operating there, from 10-15 different locations in the city. Today, barely 10% of Hinjavdi commuters use public transit. That number needs to rise up to over 50%. Public transit buses can be so much better than the company buses, if run effectively.
I am not against the Metro/BRTS – they are are also necessary, from the point of view of the long term transportation needs of the city. Do note, the existing BRTS needs to be fixed for all its problems before implementing any expanded version (my thoughts here) Even in the long term, when we have the Metro/BRTS/etc, given the circular geography and cross connectivity requirements, an efficient bus system will continue to be a critical need.
Essentially to summarize, what I am saying is that we need two active plans and projects to address the public transit needs. And a higher priority needs to be given to the short-medium term needs…and should be addressed on an urgent basis. Remember, to the 1,000 vehicles being added every day, we don’t have the luxury of not doing anything for the short term.
As I commented today on twitter – if we don’t address the next 5-10 years issues…we will all be in the dumps! Then we might as well forget the long term planning of a ‘vibrant metropolis’.
Lastly I will add some point about traffic management. The bus service improvements have to go hand in hand with a significant improvement in our management of traffic flows, traffic law enforcement and parking zones. This is a big topic in itself and I will discuss it in a separate blog post.
(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?
—-added July 25, 2010 —
Benninger discusses how Pune evolved after the end of the Peshwe era in 1818. How the city witnessed a big decline over the next few decades. How the British reshaped the city with the creation of new areas such as the Pune Cantonment.
“With the demise of Peshwa rule and the coming of the British, Pune changed dramatically, in terms of its urban plan and in mindset. However, the spirit of the people lives on, surging towards the future”
—-original post dated July 11, 2010 —
The famous, award-winning architect and urban planner Christopher Benninger has written a nice piece ‘The Great City Builders’ about urban planning lessons from the Peshwa Era in Pune, in today’s Pune Mirror.
Excerpt: “Pune reached its greatest heights of civility during the Peshwa period, with urban management being a clear, transparent system rather than the haphazard mix of politics and need for power it has become today”
He discusses the various developments from that period – New ‘Peths’, Aqua-Ducts, Roads, Mixed-Use Neighborhoods, ‘Wadas’, etc. He also highlights how the emphasis was less on iconic, grand monuments as compared to the other famous capital cities. Here is one more excerpt:
“The image of every city revolves around some iconic, manmade structures and grand boulevards; not so in Peshwa Pune! While Pune was the capital of an empire, it worked for the empowerment and facilitation of a new nation, not for its subjugation and plunder! “
To read the full article, click here: ‘The Great City Builders’
Also take a look at a couple of previous articles by Christopher Benninger on Pune, in Pune Mirror
Excerpt: “The time has come to rediscover and reinvent Pune, lest modern Maharashtra and all of us who live here, crumble before the forces that dehumanise life. We need to resurrect the city of our dreams”