Does Pune really need a metro?

Manasi Saraf Joshi
Friday, 18 January 2019

It is still unclear whether the project will solve city’s transportation problems

PUNE: Is metro viable for the city? Will it truly solve the transportation woes of the city? Well, according to a study carried out by the Department of Sociology, Savitribai Phule Pune University, the answers are not in affirmation.

“Publicised as the most sustainable option for Pune city, our research findings do not offer an affirmative answer as the project still unfolds. It will reduce traffic on certain routes, but whether it will reduce private vehicles or not, is still unclear,” said Shruti Tambe, Head of the Sociology Department. Most of the citizens were not informed by the MahaMetro, but were aware due to newspapers or hearsay.

Tambe and her team conducted the study ‘Social Impact of Metro Rail in Pune city’, in 2018 which was recently published.

According to her, the objective was to study the social impact and thus, we assessed on three broad parameters –  1) to assess awareness among the citizens, 2) to scrutinize the social impact in terms of (a) displacement and possible strategies for rehabilitation, (b) livelihoods of communities residing and practising business along the metro routes and c) social exclusion and inclusion (gender, disability etc) and 3) to analyse the usability of metro among the citizens.

“We interviewed a total of 500 respondents who were either residing near the metro line or were doing their businesses,” said Tambe’s research assistant Terbi Loyi, adding that for route from Pimpri to Swargate (16.59 km) the field area included Sant Tukaram Nagar, Bhosari, Kalewadi, Phugewadi, Dapodi, Bopodi, Khadki, Nashik Phata and for Vanaz to Ramwadi – Kothrud, Ideal Colony, Paud Road, Deccan Gymkhana, civil court besides some other.

Terbi said the shocking finding was that the information about metro rail project was not disseminated to all the residents and business practitioners who were residing and practising businesses along the proposed route.

“Similarly, none of the respondents including those who got the letter/notice of eviction or information from MahaMetro about displacement and rehabilitation was aware of compensation amount or rehabilitation location,” Terbi added.

“We did get a positive picture when asked using of metro for intra-city travel, 74.3 per cent business practitioners and 63.7 per cent residents responded yes, though few said that they might not use it daily, but use it only for covering long distance if it is as affordable as bus while a few said they would use metro as it is fast, safe, under surveillance and clean,” Tambe said.

“Creating the need of metro means cherishing the urban middle-class, elite dream of having a metro in the city. No assessment report of impact on environment and or on social impact is available in the public domain. Interestingly, although the metro route is proposed for two routes in the city, the entire city is paying taxes for the construction of metro infrastructure. I wonder why?” said Tambe.

Tambe also said that constructing a metro means affecting the level of air and noise pollution and the environment at least for 10 plus years. Instead, strengthening the existing public transport systems would be the most viable way,” she added.

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