PUNE: Although the process of urbanisation can beautify a city, unplanned development often results in increased burden on land and infrastructure. As Pune is witnessing rapid growth, many urban analysts are wondering whether the city will turn into an urban nightmare. The city stands at a crucial juncture, as in a few years, it may become too late to take corrective measures.
Builders in this market assert that Pune has a master plan in place, which dictates how development is undertaken in the city. However, rampant illegal constructions remain a concern in some regions. Fortunately, the civic authorities have realised that these constructions are not tenable in the long run. While promoters shell out anything between Rs 200 to Rs 400 per sq ft as development charges and premiums for legal constructions and pay property tax on an ongoing basis, illegal constructions pay neither. Besides evading payments, illegal constructions also pose a danger to its own occupants and surroundings.
Rohit Gera, MD of Gera Developments, maintains that haphazard, urban sprawls are absent in planned and legal constructions. The city’s development plan has provisions for 24-30-metre-wide roads, unlike the previous plans, which had provisions for 6-12-metre-wide roads. In the peripheral areas, most roads are more than 18 metres wide and very few have a width of 12 metres.
In Kharadi, 100-feet-wide roads are on the anvil. Such infrastructure will make Kharadi one of the best suburbs in the city in the future. The main issue that the authorities and city planners need to address is whether to focus on the city’s central areas and encourage vertical growth, or have a more spread-out development, feels Gera. “We need to create more self contained suburban models with job opportunities, to give the city a well-rounded, balanced development and growth,” he says.
In urban regions, growth is not confined to the central business districts (CBDs). As time progresses, sustainable developments often become a challenge in urban sprawls. However, Pune has no specific CBD and this has benefited the city. As businesses are dispersed throughout the city, the pressure on the city’s road and transport infrastructure is considerably less. People are generally able to reside and work in the same areas, thereby, ensuring balanced growth in the city.
Kruti Jain, director of Kumar Urban Development, points out that the government has laid out a very ambitious roadmap for Pune’s infrastructure. The plan encompasses a multifaceted transport system, with an enhanced road network, a metro system, new bridges, flyovers, subways and skywalks. Measures to improve accessibility include constructing new roads, flyovers and subways, widening existing roads and removing bottlenecks to ease traffic congestion and enhancing the efficiency and reliability of public transport. Pune is growing at a rapid pace and expanding in every direction, explains Jain. “The city has numerous townships, unlike other metros, where land for such development is not available. Initially, the city’s development was focused around its business districts. However, due to the rapid influx of people, the city has witnessed a boom in residential and commercial developments across all areas,” she elaborates.
Although a suburban lifestyle offers certain benefits to its occupants, the bigger challenge pertains to managing the environmental footprint of living in a suburb. Others are quick to caution that Pune should try and develop in a more planned manner, than the haphazard way in which Mumbai has developed. Residential areas should be developed in close proximity to commercial areas, so that people do not have to travel long distances to reach their work places. While the real estate sector’s growth in Pune has been phenomenal in the last few years, the city also seems to have steered clear of some of the mistakes committed in other urban centres.
How long will this systematic development last is something that remains to be seen, particularly when the migration rate to Pune is higher than in many other cities. The city’s economic prowess is proving to be a traction point that could fuel haphazard growth. For now, developers maintain that there is no threat of urban development spiralling out of control, in Pune.