Pune Hill Roads – Consider, Analyze, Evaluate And !! Act !!

The map here shows the two roads and the tunnel proposed in the Draft Development Plan for Old Pune Municipal Corporation limit. Before you read the rest of this piece, I would suggest that you go through the map and try to form an opinion about the impact of the roads on traffic, the hills, the affected neighbourhoods, etc. I have marked out the key landmarks so as to facilitate your analysis.
Click here for viewing the map.
Now please do consider the following:

  1. As can be seen in the map, the two roads are cutting through the hill and are much wider than most roads in Pune. The Paud Bal Bharti Road is 30 metres wide while the High Capacity Mass Transit Route (HCMTR) is 24 metres wide. (Reference: Fergusson road is 24 metres wide).
  2. So essentially the proposal is for two ‘Fergusson road like’ roads on the hill, through the forest!
  3. Circa 2020 and you also have vendors, encroachments, parked cars, connecting lanes…
  4. Considering how short public memory is, it is very likely that the Pune Corporation would in a few years time also permit constructions on both sides of the new hill road. (Has happened in the past !)

Do I need to say more? If yes, read on…

  1. The green on the map starts after the Law College, FTII and Bhandarkar Institute boundary. However in reality these institutions are green even inside their boundary. So the road that’s going through Law College & Bhandarkar Institute is in fact going through thick tree cover.
  2. These new roads might divert some traffic from Nal Stop & Law College Rd, but they are also certain to generate loads of new traffic. There are a ton of studies that show that more roads only lead to more cars & more traffic. If you do not wish to spend time reading these reports, the other option is to visit Gurgaon and see this phenomenon in action.
  3. The approach roads to these mega roads are tiny lanes today. Presuming that the PMC manages to acquire the requisite land and widen these roads, the Paud Road and Senapati Bapat road ends of the road are certain to be major bottlenecks.
  4. Law College Road and Senapati Bapat Road have both been recently widened. Also new roads have been built over old water canals. But all these “more roads” projects seem to have had little if any positive impact on the traffic situation.
  5. Senapati Bapat road is already creaking under the weight of the traffic that it’s carrying today. How SB road is supposed to carry the additional traffic from the Paud – BalBharti road as well as the HCMRT road, is a mystery most puzzling.
  6. Roads are meant to be planned when a new area is being developed. You cannot as an afterthought, start bulldozing roads through forests and established communities.
  7. Pune (like most cities in india) has messed up big time as regards planning & regulating the growth in the new suburbs. The construction happens first, much much later is there any talk of roads, water, drainage
  8. Is a new road a good enough reason for us to be sacrificing trees, birds, the biodiversity / natural heritage?
  9. Is a new road a good enough reason for us to be sacrificing the well being of neighborhoods? The noise and pollution looks certain to significantly degrade the quality of life of residents in Law College Road lanes like Ashok Path, Damle Path, Kanchan Galli
  10. We need to revisit our idea of “development”. Are we sure that a road at the cost of trees, forests, hills… is “development” ?
  11. In the same way as we preserve our social / cultural heritage, we also need to preserve our natural heritage. It would seem insane, if someone proposed a road through Shaniwar Wada / Phule Wada or any of the other great social / heritage sites in Pune. It’s the same with the hills.

My layman opinion:

  • The roads will cause great harm to the hill.
  • The roads will ruin the peace and well-being of the adjoining communities.
  • All of it seems like a futile exercise in shifting the traffic jam elsewhere
  • The roads will lead to no/little benefit to traffic.

Having said that, I stay close to the affected areas and have often suffered due to the traffic mess at Nal Stop and Law College Road. So I definitely appreciate & feel the pain.
Unfortunately, these roads are neither a solution nor are the hills something that the citizens can afford to give up. Think for 50 years and not 5 years.
Pune urgently needs to start discouraging cars and provide good bus public transport. Unfortunately that seems to be the one thing that never gets “developed” in Pune.
I am doing this because I see my 4-year-old questioning me in another 10 years time “Dad, how could your generation do this to us! You actually destroyed one of the last few natural green places in Pune!” Even if the roads materialize, I hope to be able to say to him with a clear conscience that “I tried…”
Our future generations will think of us on similar lines to how we think of maharajas who hunted thousands of tigers and even hunted the Indian Cheetah to extinction. How could they be so remarkably short-sighted? If only… better sense had prevailed at that time. Sigh…
Action Item:

  • Check the Pune DP objections draft by DGPS, pick whatever makes sense and submit it to : Town Planning Officer/City Engineer, Room No. 110, First Floor, Pune Corporation, Pune 411005.
  • Call your local corporator, MLA. media or any other influential figure you know. Explain the issue and request them to take a stand against the hill roads.

Believe it or Not, it seems like the PMC is already building the Paud Bal Bharti road in an underhand manner, using the pretext of a pipeline. The hill has already been dug up (affected area is 70 feet wide) from the Balbharti end. A wide road (supposedly for pipeline work) is being built. I suppose the idea is to somehow get this road going and later try and legitimize it.
Clipping From IBN Lokmat’s report on the Vetal Tekdi issue. In the background can be seen the destruction caused by the pipeline work that’s currently underway.

Taken from