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'PMC should withdraw premature FSI proposal'

PMC has invited citizens' opinions on the Metro plan; several respond saying that the four-FSI proposal should be scrapped for now

In the four-and-half years since the Metro project plan was first approved by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 2010, the project has been shadowed by uncertainty and delays. The project has hit yet another roadblock, with citizens’ dissatisfaction with how the PMC is progressing with the plan.

Pune Metro plan
Still not on track: In the four-and-half years since the Pune Metro plan was first approved by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) in 2010, the project has been shadowed by uncertainty and delays. Pic for representation

On July 19, the PMC invited citizens’ suggestions and objections to the proposal within a deadline of 30 days, till August 18. While Puneites have suggested several changes to the plans, their basic objection is that the PMC has simultaneously issued a public notice announcing a Floor Space Index (FSI) of four in the Metro influence zone.

What this means
The FSI indicates the ratio of construction to the size of the plot, so an area of 100 sq ft with an index of four will have four times the built-up area, or 400 sq ft. This index had originally been proposed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) for the capital’s Metro.

A Nagar Road citizen’s forum drafted and sent a letter to the PMC on July 18, stating that the FSI notice is a premature move, and should, therefore, be withdrawn. Nagar Road residents said that they have repeatedly submitted objections to the proposed Metro plan to the PMC since 2009. However, the civic body has totally ignored their concerns and approved the DMRC report without any independent and scientific study.

Quaneez Sukhrani, convenor of the Association of Nagar Road Citizen’s Forum, said, “There is no proper planning done by PMC in this regard. The basic groundwork has to be completed before PMC can move ahead with the Metro project. I think, instead of following the proposal by the DMRC, there should be an independent analysis by engineers from Pune who can give a clear picture of the entire proposal.”

Sukhrani added, “The DMRC report was first approved by the PMC very hurriedly in January 2010. Though four-and-a-half years have since passed, neither the PMC nor the Maharashtra government could obtain the Central government’s approval. This could only be due to the glaring and blatant flaws, and lacunae in the PMC-approved Pune Metro plan. As a result neither the state government nor the central government have so far made any budgetary allocations for Pune Metro.”

The proposal
The proposal lays out plans for a no-development zone within 10 metres of the proposed route. A no-objection certificate will be compulsory for any construction within 50 metres of the proposed alignment.

It also calls for the provision of an FSI of 4 for development within 500 metres along the route, ostensibly to achieve greater population densification through vertical development of residential and commercial properties, making the Metro more viable.

Citizenspeak
Vivek Velankar, president of the Sajak Nagrik Manch, an NGO, said, “When PMC is asking for suggestions and objections, they cannot make a new notification for FSI; it is an illegal step by the PMC.”

Sukhrani also raised concerns about traffic problems in the proposed area for the Metro, and said, “At this point, we would like to record that citizens residing in areas abutting Nagar Road are, in any case, facing untold trauma and inconvenience due to the much delayed and badly executed BRTS Phase -1.

When the basic Metro plan itself has not yet been approved and the alignments have not been finalised, the extreme urgency being shown by the PMC in pushing the 4 FSI proposal is quite astonishing. This substantiates the fear many citizens have that decision makers are keenly interested in the 4 FSI proposal getting approved and implemented, irrespective of the ultimate fate of the Metro project.”

“The manner in which the local public transport, PMPML, has been left in the lurch and starved of funds, is an indicator of the extreme apathy of the PMC in the matter. The lack of seriousness is evident even in the matter of the Metro. PMC has constantly avoided serious, open-minded dialogue with citizens about the Metro plan, and refrained from conducting an independent study,” he added.

Despite repeated attempts Additional City Engineer (Traffic Management and Projects), Shrinivas Bonala, who is in-charge of the Metro Rail project, was unavailable for comment on the issue.

1 The FSI recommended for areas that are not heavily congested

2 The FSI recommended for areas that are congested

200 The percentage by which the FSI exceeds the city’s actual needs

Project cost

In June 2012, the state cabinet approved a 14.925-km elevated route from Vanaz to Ramwadi, and had set a 2017 deadline for the completion of Phase-I of the project. The revised estimated cost of the project is now pegged at Rs 10,183 crore. The Chinchwad-Swargate corridor will now cost Rs 6,960 crore and the Vanaz-Ramwadi route will cost Rs 3,223 crore.

Cost shoots up
The total cost for the Chinchwad-Swargate corridor and Vanaz-Ramwadi route has increased by nearly Rs 2,199 crore, as compared to the estimated cost in 2009.

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