Inner city of Pune needs urban renewal
Jan 23, 2014
Source : The Times of India


PUNE: Pune’s pace of urban growth has been unparalleled, with the increasing number of migrants. This influx has required major infrastructure upgradation on all fronts, including road connectivity, parking facilities, public transport and electricity and water supply. It is also clear that Pune’s growth is not a temporary phenomenon – the city will expand exponentially in the years to come, both, geographically and in scope. If the development authorities do not take a realistic look at what the next two to three decades hold in store, the city will eventually fail to maintain this growth and begin to decay.

The city is already seeing a decline in the standard of living in the inner locations, which also lack modern embellishments. As Arvind Jain, managing director, Pride Group, states, “Thanks to the fact that Pune has a lot of potential for horizontal urban growth, the city is constantly adding new areas to its borders but at the same time, the standard of living within the inner city is on a visible decline. Holistic urban growth is not just about expansion but also about the constant improvement of existing central areas.”

As of now, the infrastructure situation in many of the city’s inner locations seems to have hit an insurmountable ‘roadblock’. Sanjay Bajaj, managing director-Pune, Jones Lang LaSalle India, emphasizes how “In terms of infrastructure, there is little that can be done about the traditional interior areas. While there is a certain degree of redevelopment going on in some of these areas, the most required initiatives such as road widening and building of flyovers to reduce traffic congestion, will remain a challenge. The newer areas present a different picture and are in fact, where Pune’s hope for holistic future development lies. However, the largely unplanned development model which has been followed in the past, will need to be avoided. These areas must first be given sufficient infrastructure in terms of road network, modern traffic management as well as water and electricity supply before they are opened up for large-scale development. There are good precedents that can be followed in this regard, such as the model followed in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and Ahmedabad.”

However presently, in some of the oldest areas, development has happened outwards like spokes from the hub, says Kishor Pate, CMD, Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd, adding that “Ingress and egress are big issues in some of these areas. Without sufficiently wide roads, public transport penetration is an issue, resulting in excessive congestion caused by private vehicles. This results in a low livability quotient. Though, many of the available properties are very old and lack in providing modern embellishments in the newer areas, the tendency of families residing in these areas is to not move out due to change resistance. We expect this to change as the generations change, which is also when more of these old properties will start coming up for redevelopment.”

Kruti Jain, director, KUL, seconds this and adds that “The preference for the golden city centre locations like Karve Road, Camp and Kalyani Nagar, will not change. However, it is also true that there is a dire need for redevelopment of old buildings and infrastructure development, as more and more people are migrating into Pune for a better life. Upgradation of infrastructure like flyovers, better public transport, convenient parking facilities, electricity and water supply, will go a long way in enhancing the life for the people of Pune.”

It is possible to maximise the potential of these areas by redeveloping them. “Inner city areas such as Deccan Gymkhana, Kothrud, Sahakarnagar, Prabhat Road, will continue to be in demand because of their inherent connectedness to various vital areas of the city. The peths present a slightly different picture, as they are very densely developed and the demand for housing in these areas is also lower. It is true that the peth areas are still perceived to represent the stronghold of Pune’s traditional culture. However, they are almost completely saturated and the only scope for new housing to be introduced, lies in redevelopment. As witnessed in areas such as Dadar and Worli in Mumbai, redevelopment can and does infuse new vibrancy into an area, since the redevelopment of old buildings with limited capacities, into modern structures with more units, gives a locality a facelift in many ways,” reveals Bajaj.

According to Ravi Ahuja, executive director, Cushman & Wakefield India, unless the government comes out with cluster development policies, these locations will not see much redevelopment. “Usually, cluster development happens in cities where land is scarce but Pune is expanding in all directions,” he feels.

There is much to be said for the old-world charm of these areas as some of these are the sites of heritage structures from Pune’s rich and vibrant history. These structures and their immediate surroundings will obviously remain impervious to large-scale redevelopment and rightly so. Bajaj adds, “The ‘old-world’ charm that these areas possess, would certainly be impacted to some extent. However, there is no immediate danger of this happening as the redevelopment or even just refurbishment of old structures, must essentially happen in a consultative manner, with all involved stakeholders agreeing to a certain course of action. Unless an old structure has been illegally constructed or is so old as to pose a danger to its inhabitants and the surrounding neighbourhood, the consultative and inclusive approach will have to be followed.“

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