Pune Municipal Corporation has spent a total of R6.31 crore of taxpayers’ money to build a foot over-bridge (FOB) at the congested Vishrantwadi Chowk, purportedly for your convenience. But in its eagerness to get it inaugurated by a top-notch politician, the civic authority is ready to make citizens endure the snarled traffic of the area for some more time.
Hi-tech bridge: The Vishrantwadi FOB, with its three entrances and three elevators, will benefit citizens of Vishrantwadi, Dhanori and Tingrenagar. It also has CCTV cameras. Pic/Mohan Patil
Since the model code of conduct for the ongoing Lok Sabha elections is under way, no high-profile politician can make an appearance for the opening of the bridge and seen to be claiming credit for it. So the corporation thought it fit to postpone the inaugural ceremony until after the polls, at the cost of safety of thousands of pedestrians, even though the bridge has been ready for over a month and a half now.
For a grand curtain raiser: Hungry for a glitzy opening, PMC will sit on this costly FOB till the code of conduct is in force in the state. Pics/Mohan Patil
The work on the over-bridge, which has three elevators for senior citizens, was completed in March. Civic officials say that the FOB will not be thrown open for public use till the code of conduct is in force.
“What is the big deal if we waited for another month?” asked a top official. “See, we have done our work. Now it is up to the corporators to decide when, and importantly by whom, the bridge will get inaugurated,” he said on the condition of anonymity.
Keep running: Despite the work of foot over-bridge having been ready for one and a half months now, pedestrians must continue to dash across a busy road
PMC had given the FOB’s contract to a private firm named Catalysers. When mid-day contacted a senior engineer of the firm, Siddharth Mahulkar, he confirmed that the work was completed last month itself.
“Till we don’t hand over the project to the PMC, the responsibility of its maintenance and safety is ours. We have appointed two guards there,” he said, adding, “What we have learnt is that until the model code of conduct is going on, the bridge will not be inaugurated for the public,” he added.
The FOB is the first such bridge in the city with multiple exits. When it is made available to the public, it is going to help residents and pedestrians of Vishrantwadi, Dhanori and Tingrenagar. While the bridge comes under PMC wards 5A and 5B, the adjacent wards will also benefit by this multi-wing bridge.
What’s the use?
Arif Sayyad, a resident of Vishrantwadi, said, “What is the use of this huge bridge if even after its completion we have to cross the roads by dodging speedy vehicles. In the evening, the situation is even more serious. Minor accidents involving pedestrians are common here. Yet, what we hear is that the corporation will wait till the model code gets over.”
Corporators differ on their stance on the bridge’s opening. NCP corporator Satish Mhaske said, “The work of elevators has not completed yet. That’s the only reason the bridge has not been opened to public. It is not like we are waiting for a formal inaugural ceremony.”
Informed that all the work is, indeed, complete, and that as security guard gave this correspondent a test ride in the elevator, Mhaske said, “Oh! This means they are lying to me. You can ask the contractor what he said to me a few days ago.”
His fellow party corporator Rekha Tingre said that the inaugural proposal has not been submitted till date. “I think once the Lok Sabha elections in the state get over on April 24, the bridge can be inaugurated,” she said.
RPI corporator Siddharth Dhende said, “The initial work of the bridge was completed in November 2013 itself. So I am surprised why it still has not been opened for the public.”
The Vishrantwadi FOB has three entrances and a total of 43 stairs. Besides three elevators, one at each entrance, the contractor has also fixed CCTV cameras from a safety point of view.
Use it as a pasteboard