Hearing against HCMTR in DP

Red marker stones for HCMTR December 2015

Following the objection raised by DGPS to the HCMTR (see http://dgpspune.com/?p=1828), on 18th May 2017  DGPS members presented additional points at the hearing held by the Town Planning Authority.

Photos of the biodiversity seen on Law College Hill and Vetal Tekdi were shown. Shri Patil asked the PMC HCMTR Executive to ensure that an Environment Impact Assessment would be carried out.

Seeing the number of  valid objections being presented yesterday, it is hoped that the PMC scraps the HCMTR folly and develops a sensible, sustainable approach to Pune’s traffic needs.

 

18th May 2017

 

Shri Avinash Patil

Jt Director, Town Planning,

Government of Maharashtra,

Survey no. 74/2, Sarang Society,

Sahakar Nagar, Pune

 

Subject: Hearing on 18th May 2017, called for Objection submitted by DGPS as part of improvement to the Draft Development Plan under Section 31(1) of the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966 for Final Sanction dated January 5th,2017

Ref: Government Notification:

TPS-1815/209/C.R.69/15/ DP- Pune /E.P. Published /UD-13 Dated : 05/01/2017

TPS-1815/209/C.R.69/15/ DP- Pune/Corrigendum/ UD-13 Dated : 09/01/2017

TPS-1815/209/C.R.69/15/ DP- Pune/ Corrigendum/ UD-13 Dated : 01/03/2017

Sir,

Thank you for giving us an opportunity to present additional points after our earlier submission to you in opposition of the DP plan of HCMTR (EP 166).

  1. As per the 1987 DP (1987 DP HCMTR map and descpn),  the High Capacity Mass Transit Route was proposed as a rail based system, with access-control. The Traffic and Transportation Study for Pune City done by IIT Powai in 2011 also continued with the assumption of a monorail on this route. As per proposal number FP/MH/ROAD/9500/2015, the PMC has requested permission from the Forest Dept to acquire 7.1805 hectares of which 55,000 sq m of Reserved Forest Land lie in Bhamburda to build the HCMTR through Survey nos. 53, 93 and 94. In Form A submitted by the PMC (1112312461210SBHEXforestshortnarration), it is stated that the High Capacity Mass Transit Route (HCMTR) was proposed as an “idea of sustainable transport”, having “recognised the dangers of increased motorisation” and that  “The alignment has been designed accordingly to suit the operation of the rail-based system”. However, in the Budget 2017-18 speech by the Pune Municipal Commissioner, the HCMTR has been proposed as 6 lane road with 2 lanes for BRTS and 4 for vehicles (page 21 2017_18_Budget_Speech_of_Municipal_Commissioner). Further, the alignment of the HCMTR was done to bypass the city, as it was in 1987; Pune has grown since then but the route has remained the same, in the centre of the city now. The very objective and route of HCMTR as proposed under the 1987 DP and submitted to the Forest Department in 2015 now stand invalidated – hence we submit to you that the HCMTR project should be scrapped.
  2. In the current DP, there are two roads – HCMTR and Bal-Bharati Paud Phata Road – shown on forest land in Bhamburda – both exit on Paud Road, where the Metro route will cross from Vanaz in Phase II. There is also a tunnel proposed from Kothrud to Pashan passing through the Vetal Tekdiin the DP. What justification does PMC have for so many projects at one point i.e. Law College Tekdi/Vetal Tekdi? PMC must provide a Cumulative Impact Assessment of all these projects together on the traffic flow, emissions, loss of green cover, long term cost- benefit analysis 
  3. The HCMTR with 4 lanes for private vehicles, as proposed now by PMC, only feeds the use of more private vehicles and defeats Pune’s Comprehensive Mobility Plan target of reducing private vehicle trips in the city. The so called “traffic congestion” is seen on the roads only during peak hour traffic and the world over, it has been shown that more roads never solve the problem of peak hour congestion.  We fail to understand what stops the PMC from improving PMPML as a viable alternative to private vehicles. Allowing violation of designated parking spaces within buildings, allowing free parking for private vehicles on public roads and lax enforcement of traffic rules are encouraging the use of private vehicles in the city. We need to understand why PMC insists on diverting valuable forest land for roads, without demonstrating efficient sustainable use of existing roads in the city.
  4. There are many road infrastructure proposals now in the DP, we need a fully integrated impact of all proposals together – For instance, impact of HCMTR, Metro, BBPP Road on total traffic on Law College Road should be projected for more than 20 years. PMC should show the the impact on traffic of all these proposals at both ends – Paud as well as SB Road. What Pune needs is holistic planning, an integrated PR of all proposed transport solutions at different locations and the impact of all on particular locations where they meet.
  5. We take this opportunity to remind the Town Planning Authority of the Constitutional mandate placed on it to preserve the environment. Please see Article 21, 48-A, 51-A(g) and Article 243 ZE of the Constitution, the last one specifies planning to include “the integrated development of infrastructure and environmental conservation”. At this point, we would also like to bring to your attention the judgement dated 15 January 2016 of the Bombay High Court in PIL 156/2006 Nagrik Chetna Manch Vs State of Maharashtra. The Honourable High Court ruled against the PMC’s proposed Bal Bharati-Paud Phata Road on the hill (copy attached). The Honourable Judges have reminded the PMC of its mandate of the Articles 48A and 51A and its mandatory duty to protect environment. They have also noted “There   is   no conscious application of mind by the Pune Municipal Corporation   to   the   drastic   adverse   effect   of   the construction of the proposed road on the environment and in particular on the existing man made forest.” We believe this statement holds true today for the HCMTR, that is asking for more than 7 hectares of forest land for more space for private vehicles
  6. As taxpayers of Pune city, we need to know on the precise standards on which the proposed HCMTR project will be assessed to be a success or failure, over what time line and who is to be held accountable if the project fails to meet the set standards. Please note, within ten years of its construction, PMC has accepted that the University flyover has failed to solve the traffic problem at that location. The decision to divert precious forest land for roads cannot. and should not, be taken lightly. 
  7. Given that forest land is public land, we demand that Environment Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment be carried out for the HCMTR, with a public hearing at the location of land acquisition as per Right to Fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement act 2013 Chapter II B.
  8. We would like clear answers from the PMC and Town Planning Authority on how the loss of 7.1805 hectares of green space in the city limits will compensate for loss of our health? All the ‘developed’ cities in the world have huge green and open spaces in the form of reserved forests or public gardens in the heart of the city where people can walk, run, have picnics, play games, walk their dogs – and basically de-stress. These spaces are very important for the physical and mental health of city dwellers – and there are many studies which state this. A rapidly growing, increasingly polluted city like Pune needs such green, open spaces more than ever – and we are fortunate to have some pristine, natural green spaces right in the midst of the city. Apart from the teeming biodiversity that these roads will destroy, our tekdis (Law College, Vetal Tekdi and Vaikunth Mehta Institute) are green because of common people’s participation – not government support.  Kindly note that as per a survey conducted at Vaikunth Mehta tekdi, which is marked for destruction by the HCMTR, there are 1992 trees of 74 different species, 66 different species of birds, 14 species of butterflies, 11 species of reptiles and 3 species of mammals seen. The PMC has as yet not replied to the Forest Department query raised in February 2016 on how many trees will be cut on forest land for the HCMTR. The rich biodiversity on Law College Hill and Vetal Tekdi has not been surveyed by the PMC. There is clearly no conscious application of mind by the PMC when making such proposals in the DP.
  9. Finally, residents are convinced that the entire HCMTR project will be undertaken in a piecemeal manner, the destruction of the hills and forest will be the easiest to push through and the remaining private land will not be acquired ever. Hence there will be no ring road, there will only be two stretches made in the name of HCMTR, cutting through Vaikunth Mehta Institute on University Road and on Vetal Tekdi/Law College Hill. 
  10. We have submitted more than 900 signatures from residents in support of our objection to the HCMTR on forest land. Be assured that there is strong opposition amongst residents for any move by the PMC to take away the remaining green spaces in our city for roads in the guise of “development”.

Kindly remove the HCMTR proposal from the DP and ensure that the PMC put in place holistic, sustainable public transport systems, with strong disincentives for use of private vehicles.  

Thanking you for your attention,