The condition of pilot Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) project in Pune,which has already achieved a dubious distinction of exemplary failure and the model of avoidable practices,has worsened further with most part of 6-km stretch of BRTS corridor between Katraj and Swargate no longer functional.
The upcoming four-lane flyover between Padmavati and Bharati Vidyapeeth on Pune-Satara Road has caused irrevocable damage to the BRTS corridor,as itpillars that have been erected on the dedicated lane are occupying almost the entire width of the lane.
While this nearly 1.3-km flyover has spelled doom for BRTS route on Satara Road,two subways being constructed each at Sheth Narayandas Duggad Square (Bibwewadi square) and near Laxminarayan Theatre have resulted in the major portion of dedicated lanes meant for public transport buses becoming more or less defunct.
With this,the Centres funding running into hundreds of crores under the Jawaharlala Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission for BRTS has become a sheer waste,said civil society members and experts.
The PMC was the first civic body in the country to implement BRTS and pilot project was launched on the Hadapsar-Swargate-Katraj stretch extending up to 16.5 kms. The work of laying down BRTS lanes was started by PMC in December 2006 and it became functional in 2008.
The other stretch of pilot BRTS between Swargate and Hadapsar,on the other hand,has become a freeway for all types of vehicles. A visit to the Pune-Satara Road highlighted the grim fact that there is hardly any distinction between the BRTS corridor and non-BRTS corridor. The ongoing construction work of flyover near Bibwewadi square has not only made the dedicated lane under BRTS vanish,but also reduced the width of the concerned stretch of Satara Road.
The portion of BRTS lane on Pune-Satara Road other than that affected due to flyover and subways are equally pathetic with damaged dividers and corridor. Debris and other construction material was seen lying on dedicated lanes,obstructing the movement of public transport buses.
PMC additional city engineer (project) Shrinivas Bonala said damage to pilot BRTS route on Pune-Satara stretch during ongoing construction works was unavoidable. The pedestrian movement and vehicular traffic on Pune-Satara Road has been increasing rapidly,creating more and more demand for road infrastructure. Construction of flyover and subways was must to ease out traffic flow. Also,we did not have any alternative available with us to offer as substitute for Pune-Satara Road during ongoing developmental works. As an outcome of this,the damage to BRTS corridor was inevitable, he said.
Bonala said restoration plans for BRTS route are already ready,adding that it would not put much financial burden on the civic body. Civic activist Vivek Velankar blamed civic administration and ruling party leaders for having poor vision and ill management while executing public projects. It was obvious consideration few years ago that city outskirts like Katraj and Dhankwadi would grow rapidly. This cannot be an excuse for dismantling infrastructure like BRTS set up at the cost of public money, he said.
Activist Jugal Rathi said it was shocking that PMC has embarked upon new BRTS routes and Metro project with poor experience of BRTS implantation. The civic body will not hesitate to dismantle upcoming flyovers and BRTS routes in the city for the sake of Metro, he said. Activists,moreover,have described public projects with huge financial outlays as means for siphoning off taxpayers money.