Posts Tagged ‘Pune Municipal Corporation’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about to fly into Pune for a bankers’ meet a few days from now and the roads all along the route are being spruced up. A fresh coat of paint here, a fresh roll of tar there and the hedges are being trimmed.

Pune is being made a Swachha city for the big day with the trash being pushed out of sight. The approach road to my place, which goes right past the venue, has suddenly got a cement patch with the dividers having appeared almost by magic. Funnily, the white dividers stop midway along the road almost as if the guy who was drawing it decided that it would go only as far as Mr Modi’s vision would permit!

More interestingly, traffic at intersections is being forced to stay behind the white line. For the Punekar who abhors traffic rules it must be doubly frustrating. But do not worry, the torture will only last a few days. And that is what this blog is about.

With due apologies to the much revered Lokmanya Tilak, many vehicle owners and pedestrians in Pune believe that breaking the law is their birthright! I consider myself a law abiding citizen when I am behind the wheel of a car or walking on the road. I don’t know if that also makes me stupid. There’s a huge number in the city that refuses to follow traffic rules and having lived in the city most of my life that should have become a part of my nature too by now. Thankfully, it has not.

The complete disregard for the law by the Punekar is appalling. They actually believe that they are within their rights to do so and no one, not even the police, can do a damn thing about it. I used to think that only in Delhi motorists honk to force you to cross the red light because they want to go. Today, I can honestly say that Pune has gone far ahead of the national capital in this aspect. Take any intersection, even in the cantonment, vehicle owners do not even slow down if they see a cop. They just speed through, and the cop looks on helplessly.

The pedestrian is not far behind. At the Swargate Bus stand crossing, probably the busiest in the city, there are at least four constables on duty, but not one stops  the pedestrian who brazenly strolls across even as the oncoming traffic begins to move. So while looking out for two-wheeler riders in the maze one has to dodge pedestrians as well. On the bridge that connects Tilak Road to Deccan Gymkhana, there is a wide footpath on either sie of the bridge, but people will still walk on the road. I’ve always wondered why. Can someone enlighten me? And these are not isolated examples.

And to add to the confusion, at times, is the Pune Traffic Police. In April 2012, the Supreme Court passed an order banning tinted glasses on car windows. The Pune Police then announced that they were going to “strictly implement” the ban. Of course, everything petered out after a few days of frenzied activity I later heard some convoluted explanation of percentage of tint or whatever and things eased off.

Suddenly two years later, they again announced that they were going to “strictly implement” the two-year old order. I finally decided to remove the film from my car instead of being hauled up by some enthusiastic traffic policeman who would insult me with “If senior journalists like you do this, what can we tell the common man?”. As I drove around looking for a dealer who would pull out the film I got stopped thrice. I was not fined because I told the cop that I was looking for a dealer for the very purpose. Two days after removing the film, I drove to Deccan Gymkhana and noticed the absence of any traffic policemen “strictly implementing” the law.

So my question is why does the Pune Police start something they either cannot do, or are unable to take to its logical conclusion? I understand that the decision is in pursuance of a Supreme Court ruling, so they should either take it to the logical end or stop wasting their and our time. It’s just like the crash helmet rule. Very few months it pops and the goes back on the shelf. They have launched various grand plans to improve the city’s traffic which after a week or so die a silent death.

I would be much happier if they threw up their hands and told the State government that there is nothing they can do unless they get the manpower and the infrastructure. I think the reason why ministers, MPs and MLAs never do anything is because they are never stuck in traffic, so they think everything is running just perfectly. So I hope and pray that one day the chief minister is in town and he gets stuck in a traffic jam on Jangli Maharaj Road or Tilak Road! Why the state government does not step in and help the Pune Traffic Police or for that matter police in every city, is a mystery to me. Pune has sent all its MLAs from the ruling party to the Vidhan Sabha. Can we expect something from them except homilies? Will Guardian Minister Girish Bapat do something>

Secondly, how is it that only the one class of people is caught? How about nailing the VIP and VVIP motorists driving those monster SUVs, Jaguars, Land Rovers, BMWs and Mercs? And let’s not forget the vehicles of politicians and the government officials. Have you see any policemen pulling up these motorists lately? Or are they exempt from the rule? So I see all those fancy cars zip around with pitch black film and I am left cursing my diligence!

But coming back to the prime minister’s visit, did it have to take that to force the Pune Traffic Police to make Punekars follow traffic rules? Before someone starts to think I am running down the traffic police, let me clarify, I have total respect for the people in khakhi. I know they are doing a difficult job because they are strapped for manpower and the number of vehicles is increasing at a scary rate which they have no control over.

When I read that Pune Traffic Police has collected quite a few crores as fines from erring vehicle owners for various offences, what it tells me apart from the obvious is that Pune is a city where law breakers seem to have a free run. They do not care about traffic rules and (more importantly) have no fear for the traffic policemen, who try valiantly to bring some sense into the madness – and fail.

So, in the end, it took a prime ministerial visit for the inept and slothful Pune Municipal Corporation to spring into action. Now if only this was done on a permanent basis! Maybe, Prime Minister Modi should come to Pune every other week and drive around the city for his viewing pleasure and see the mess unfolding before his very eyes!


We complain about the problems in our city but head for the hills to enjoy an extended weekend when its time to vote. We crib the year round about being f*****d over by our elected representatives but when the time comes for us to elect a better person we disappear. That is the story of the Indian voter. So they don’t really have the right to complain about the sorry state of affairs they encounter every day. They deserve it.

Look at the polling percentage in the Pune Municipal Corporation elections – just around 51 per cent. That means out of a supposedly eligible vote bank of 25.58 lakhs just a little over 13 lakhs voted. Were were the rest?

There was so much of anger and frustration that was being aimed at the civic authorities in the recent months that one would have expected the public to give a fitting reply to the corporators who were busy looting the tax-payers’ money. But unfortunately, what we have witnessed is a appalling indifference by the citizens towards the problems in the city – despite the best efforts of the NGOs who actively encouraged people to come out of their homes and exercise their franchise.

The apathy of the voter towards the civic polls also speaks volumes for the quality of those who are contesting the elections and the feeling that people’s voices are anyway not heard after the elections, so why bother.

Logistically speaking the civic elections in Pune this time have been a mess. I met voters who told me they found their names in wards they hadn’t stayed in for over a decade instead of their present residence. A gentleman who lived in a huge bungalow found his name in some slum far away! My wife’s name was missing and my aunt’s name was mentioned incorrectly, but my late mother who expired in 2003 was on the list. I wonder where and how she would have cast her vote.

What is strange was that I found my name among voters in Salunke Vihar, when I had moved out of there in 1998! What is surprising is that in the last two elections for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, our names were correctly listed, so what happened this time? Did the PMC pick up some defunct list from the early 1990s to use?

It is also shocking that for a civic body that carried out a census of the city’s population two years ago going door-to-door getting details of each family, it never bothered to use those updated records. They made government school teachers undertake this task and spent so much money on such a pointless useless exercise? These are some of the questions that we need to ask our newly elected representatives.

Unfortunately, once the elections are over and a new bunch of corporators take over the reins of the civic body, these uncomfortable questions are conveniently brushed under the carpet – till the next time.

Then look at Mumbai. Those guys make we want to laugh. They hold candle-light vigils and swear “Enough is Enough” every time there is a terrorist strike there and the twitterati, glitterati and the dumboratis all get on TV to rave and rant about being screwed by the political class. Come the big day and their best chance to get back at the political class, is squandered.

That’s one reason why I have very little sympathy for the people in Mumbai who complain about the problems in their city. Let’s see whether the 53 per cent in Pune and the 48 per cent in Mumbai that voted, can make it a better, more liveable city for everyone, including those who didn’t bother.

The people of this planet, it would seem have the wrong end of the stick! Sorry for the poor pun, but I really don’t know what we are celebrating. SEVEN BILLION plus people on this planet and half of them hungry, and living a life of despair, and we think we’ve just found the Holy Grail.

But I don’t want to talk about the rest of the world, because the rest of the world is much more aware of the fact that more children means more mouths to feed, unless you are a member of some tribe or cult which believes in every which way with anyone is okay or if you’re from India where one is made to believe that everything that happens in those nine months was pre-ordained by the Almighty. The result is a population that is careening out of control.

Just look around you. Every time you stop the car at a traffic intersection there are the grimy, snotty faces pressed against the windows, pleading for alms. On the streets, railway stations and in every nook and corner there are the destitute. The footpaths are filled with them, begging and defecating. We can’t look after our poor and we want to celebrate?

In a country that is bursting at the seams, why is the birth of a baby in a UP village a time for celebration? I wonder what is the future of this just born villager. Will she end up chasing her dreams in the big city or end up like her parents, sitting outside her hut smoking a beedi, tending to her kids.

My late father lived in a village in Darbhanga and whenever I went there all I ever wanted to do was run back to the city. I saw naked infants playing in the mud, eating whatever they could lay their hands on. Closer to home, outside the Society where I live at present, there is a colony that has sprung up where a builder has put up the labourers and their kids, who work on his construction site.

These are a part of the seven billion plus population that we so proudly talk of.

Take Pune for example. It’s the eighth largest city in the country with a population of 50.49 lakh and this is the figure they arrived at after they landed up at your doorstep asking all those questions about you and your family. Since the census was carried out quite a few months ago, you can be sure that the figure has multiplied by now.

Now here’s the interesting part. According to another survey by the Pune Municipal Corporation there are only some 460 beggars in the city! I wonder who carried out this exercise. Either these officials were visually challenged or blind-folded, or in an advanced state of intoxication to notice that Pune has at least a hundred times that number of beggars. Unless of course, the officials only counted the number outside the multiplexes or malls. Even there the numbers abound.

What stops the government from initiating stricter family planning policies is beyond me. I am not asking the government to do a repeat of the Nasbandi fiasco under Sanjay Gandhi, but there has to be a way to make people understand that have kids by all means, but if you can’t feed them, don’t have them. The way we humans are multiplying, even rabbits would be embarrassed!

So can we please make people understand that neither Bhagwan, Allah, or the stork brings babies? Yes, yes I know children are a gift from God and all that junk, but the last time we held the Good Lord allegedly responsible, a star appeared in the sky and we changed the calendar from BC to AD. It hasn’t happened since. The chances of it happening in the future are slim.