Budget cut puts brakes on 'ideal' cycle tracks
Pune Municipal Corporation has sanctioned only Rs 50 lakh to its Non-Motorised Transport cell for this fiscal year; sources say, as a result, only existing pathways will undergo repairs since new construction is not possible
With its finances halved, the Non-Motorised Transport (NMT)cell of Pune Municipal Corporation has been forced to reassess its plans of replicating the existing ‘ideal’ cycle tracks all across the city. Sources say that with the modest funds available, only minor repair work can be carried out on the trails already present.
PMC has sanctioned Rs 50 lakh to NMT cell in its 2013-14 budget, down from Rs 1 crore in the last fiscal year. Pravin Gedam, superintendent engineer and in-charge of NMT cell said, “Our prime objective is to remove obstructions from the existing tracks and maintain the continuity. We are keen to improve NMT infrastructure of the city. Actually, a 15-per cent hike on the previous budget was expected this year.”
With the launch of Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), the union ministry of urban development while sanctioning funds to cities to build Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems also made the construction of dedicated cycle tracks along these corridors mandatory. As a result, Pune, which under JNNURM, has been handed Rs 1,051 crore to build 115.67 km of BRT, has also developed cycle tracks along the way.
On paper a total of 20 such trails exist. In reality, two of these tracks are missing and six do not have signage to state their presence, and the rest are not constant, having many obstructions in the way. To inspect the infrastructural projects of the city, JNNURM officials had stopped by last year. SK Lohiya, director, civil transport department, JNNURM had gone on a brief cycle ride to inspect the condition of the tracks.
Order, no effect
He had then ordered the construction of an ideal cycle track in the city, which is yet to happen. Gedam said, “In the existing budget we can only conduct repairs. We are planning to bring a detailed plan for NMT in the city.”
Pune’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan has set an ambitious target of 50% of all trips to be non-motorised (cycling and walking) by 2030. Ranjeet Gadgil, programme director of Parisar — a civil society organisation — who has been pursuing this issue said, “We have to consider that the Rs 50 lakh is not just for cycle tracks. NMT is responsible for the upkeep of infrastructural projects for pedestrians too. Inconsequential repairs will not solve the problems of the cycle tracks.
PMC officials are claiming that they have spent Rs 1 crore last year, but the condition of the tracks remained the same. There is no proper planning for allocation and expenditure.”