The palace is closely linked to the Indian freedom movement as it served as a prison for Mahatma Gandhi, his wife Kasturba Gandhi, his secretary Mahadev Desai and Sarojini Naidu. With the Mahatma’s death anniversary today comes the news that the civic body has decided to preserve the monument by reducing the width of the BRTS route by 15 metres instead of acquiring land – while the course will be 60-m wide elsewhere, it will be 45 m near the palace on Nagar Road.
Future tense: Existing vehicular traffic situation on Nagar Road opposite Aga Khan Palace. Pic/Krunal Gosavi
The civic body has already been criticised for haphazardly enforcing its pilot project from Katraj to Hadapsar. PMC commissioner Mahesh Pathak had declared that two more BRTS routes would be commissioned by the end of February, including on Nagar Road and Aalandi Road. He also blamed citizens for not following the basic rules while using BRTS route for the accidents that have taken place in the past.
Commenting on the Nagar Road BRTS route, Vivek Kharwadkar, additional municipal commissioner (road), said, “Making the course 45-m wide at Aga Khan Palace is the only option we have at this moment. This is a challenge before us. We can ensure that there would not be any kind of traffic bottlenecking, as enough space would be left free for other road users. Work is nearing completion and our endeavour is to commission Nagar and Aalandi BRTS routes by end of next month.”
“Nagar road is the most knotty area as far as vehicular traffic and public transport is concerned. We send 132 buses from various parts including Narveer Tanaji Wadi, Pune Railway Station, PMC Terminus and Swargate Junction to this location. Introducing BRTS will certainly improve the situation as I don’t foresee any problems on the route, including at Aga Khan Palace,” said BRTS general manager Anant Waghmare.
Gajanan Shinde, a tourist car driver, was less optimistic. “It is wrong to make the road narrow at Aga Khan Palace area for introducing BRTS. Already there are major traffic problems here and vehicles can’t travel at normal speed. PMC and PMPML should plan this properly, before bringing BRTS to this area. PMC should learn from the first BRTS route on Satara Road.”
“PMC officers were asking for a part of the land in this historic place, but we openly refused as this is a national monument,” said Shobhana Ranade, chief trustee, Aga Khan Palace.