Dingy, unkempt, dark and unsafe. Pedestrian subways, which otherwise can play an important role in road safety and smooth traffic flow, have become a safety hazard for users and hence are left underutilised in the city despite crores of rupees put into them.
These subways have also become dens of illegal activities and safe havens for criminals. At many places, as Pune Newsline found out, the situation is so bad that the women would risk their lives by jaywalking than using the subways.
Lack of cleanliness, bad or non-existent approach roads, lack of proper signages, absence of security guards and little or no awareness are some other reasons for the pathetic situation of subways, which is also dissuading citizens from using them.
Sassoon Hospital Subway
Pitch dark and smelly, that’s the first impression which one gets of the subway connecting Sassoon hospital to old collector’s office. Forget about the presence of security guards, there is not even a single tubelight in the subway, making it a dangerous proposition for people to use it, especially at night. “The stench here is unbearable as it is used as a urination ground by many men. There is usually litter thrown everywhere and very little attention given to cleaning. Also, people don’t use it after dark because it is a den for anti-social elements like drug addicts and thieves,” said Ramesh Belavade, a vendor near Sassoon hospital.
Although the situation at G D Madgulkar subway (popularly known as Wakdewadi Underpass) is slightly better in terms of the lighting and usability, it fares as badly as any other on cleanliness front.
Wakdewadi subway floor is wet throughout the year due to drainage discharge on the footpath, which puts the users at the risk of slipping and falling on a slushy road.
“What you saw is nothing as compared to the situation during the monsoons,” said Deepak Borawake, a student staying in the locality. “Presently, only the floor is wet but during rainy season, the floor badly leaks and users get drenched in the drainage water. They have to negotiate with falling filth at the same time trying to walk through the accumulated water. It’s a nightmare.”
The condition of the ShaniwarwWada subway is worse, to say the least. The underutilised subway is not only dark and dirty, but it’s become a haven for anti-social elements. Those staying nearby say the only use the subway has is for pot smokers and sellers. “Forget about women, even men don’t use it. It’s dark even during the day. It’s been like that for years,” Somnath Natu, a shopkeeper in the area said.
Modern School Subway
Had it been in working condition, the G M Bhosale subway near Modern High School on JM Road could have been very useful for pedestrians, especially since the road is one-way. However, if local shopkeepers are to be believed, the subway has been shut for many years. Ironically, though the place is shut, it was well lit from inside giving the impression that it might be in use. “This road is traffic heavy and we see so many people crossing dangerously everyday. There is a school across the road too. This subway could be useful, but we don’t know why it is shut,” said a local shopkeeper.
Located on the old Pune-Mumbai Highway, the pedestrian subway at Phugewadi seems to have fallen off the radar of the PCMC. Both sides of the underground passage has pools of stagnant water which can easily turn into breeding spaces for mosquitoes. The subway, which is close to a popular shopping arcade, does not seem to have any security guards, which most of the other pedestrian subways have in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Local resident Shatanu Kate, who stays near the subway, said that often the lone electric lamp used to light up the subway was non-functional. “We call up the PCMC staff to get the light fixed,” he said. Other than stagnant pool of water, Kate said the subway of late has become home to anti-social elements.
Both the pedestrian and vehicular subways on the Pune-Bengaluru highway at Tathawade are in various stages of completion. The pedestrian subway, located near educational institutions, is supposed to be constructed by the National Highways Authority of India. A slew of accidents involving college students had necessitated the construction of the subway. While the work on the subway started long back, it is far from being completed. While the vehicular subway is complete, the approach roads to it remain in bad shape. This often leads to accidents as vehicles turn from here to enter the residential areas of Tathawade.