The Pune Metro project has run into trouble along the Yerawada-Ramwadi stretch, with local residents urging the Maharashtra Metro Rail Corporation Ltd or MahaMetro to revert to its original route plan near the Aga Khan Palace. In an interview with the Indian Express, MahaMetro Managing Director Brijesh Dixit says they will submit a petition to the National Monuments Authority, requesting it to consider a metro route near the national monument. Excerpts from the interview:
Kalyaninagar residents have been demanding that MahaMetro should stick to its original plan of running the Metro in front of the Aga Khan Palace and not follow its altered alignment. How seriously are you considering their demands?
We are seriously considering their proposal. We will send an appeal to the National Monuments Authority (NMA), informing them about the opposition to the route plan and also the suggestion of the local residents. We will personally meet the NMA officials and try to convince them. Besides, District Guardian Minister Girish Bapat has also taken an initiative in the regard.
Residents say if the Kalyaninagar route is taken, then it will affect the ecology and environment of the area and will also make the conditions unlivable for them. Your comment.
They have discussed the issue with us. But we could not do much as the NMA had rejected our original alignment to run the metro in front of Aga Khan Palace.
What was the main objection raised by the NMA?
The NMA said after the National Monuments Act came into force in 2010, no projects can be allowed within 100 metre of any national monument. Earlier, exceptions could be made, but after the Act came into force the exceptions have been disallowed.
NMA had maintained that Metro cannot be run 100 metre from the fencing of Aga Khan Palace. We had requested them to consider if it could be run 100 metre from the main structure, but NMA said they were following the Act, which stipulates 100-metre norm from the main structure.
Activist Satish Khot and others have suggested alternate routes and also pointed out the threat to Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary.
We are aware of it. We have discussed the issue with them.
The Guardian Minister is talking of making the Metro underground from Yerawada Chowk. What do you have to say about it?
No, that’s not possible. We have undertaken feasibility study on the route and it is not possible to run an underground metro on this route. Besides, there is defence land in this area, which we have to keep in mind.
Why are your taking the Metro only up to Ramwadi and not extending it to Wagholi and beyond?
We are ready to extend it. In fact, we want to run in it up to Wagholi and Ramwadi. As and when we get the appeals from the gram panchayats and civic body, we will work out a plan.
We have already received appeals from Wagholi gram panchayat and IT Associations and are considering it. There are two to three lakh youngsters working in the area and therefore logically the Pune Metro should go up to Wagholi and even beyond.