Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation entered its 34th year on 11th October last year. People have experienced drastic changes in the city during its journey.
Pimpri Chinchwad is part of Pune Metropolitan Region. It consists of areas like Sangavi, Moshi, Bhosari,Ravet, Akurdi, Nigdi, Chinchwad, Pimpri, and Hinjewadi, which is popularly known as Pune’s IT hub.
Pimpri Chinchwad City is famous as Industrial hub since the beginning of 1970s. It is considered one of Asia’s biggest hubs, and is home to several popular automobile companies, food production units, engineering companies, tech giants, metallurgy industry, etc. This part of Pune is also home to several schools, colleges, world class residential colonies, hotels, restaurants, etc.
Unfortunately, Pimpri Chinchwad is slowly losing its tag as industrial hub. It all started in 2008 when two companies decided to shift their production unit from Pimpri to other parts of Maharashtra. The city once again attracted negative light when several small scale industries declared their intention to move out because of constant threats and harassment from politically connected goons in 2012. The then NCP Home Minister RR Patil had assured to take care of issues like security, theft, and extortion incidents to retain industries in the region. From there on, nothing much has changed. Even under BJP’s rule, hooliganism continues in PCMC areas. PCMC areas. Constantly increasing real estate prices and rise in labor cost are also adding fuel to the fire.
Journey from stardust to dust
Any given city needs at least a decade to earn its stature as an industrial hub, but its reputation starts turning from stardust to dust when industries start leaving. This also impacts the revenue of municipal government and its developmental work.
Taxpayers from PCMC areas have seen how the city’s municipal corporation turned poor from rich within a span of few years. At one point, PCMC enjoyed the status of being the richest municipal corporation in the Asian continent. Industrial sector helped the city by generating most part of its revenue. But, the scene has changed during the last few years. The Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation is slowly turning bankrupt.
In its glorious past, PCMC got several honest officials, commissioners, and elected representatives who worked hard to take Pimpri Chinchwad City to new heights. Unfortunately, the city’s development seems to have hit some hurdle since the last few years.
From sewing machine scam to hearing aid scam, PCMC officials have been accused of involvement in several fraudulent transactions. Leftist controlled Marathi media does not report much about scams from Congress and NCP ruled municipal bodies. So, news about scams from this city just manages to reach local news papers.
NCP enjoys a majority in PCMC
Out of 128 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party has 83 corporators. The Indian National Congress (Inc) has 14 corporators, and also holds the leader of opposition seat in PCMC. Shiv Sena has 14 corporators, BJP has three, and MNS has four of them. Remaining ten are independents.
Political experts suggest that NCP single-handedly manages decision making as it has the maximum number of corporators. In spite of being in opposition, the Congress supports the NCP on every possible issue. NCP definitely deserves credit for bringing a pace in developmental activities at one point, but now, shouldn’t they be blamed for all the corruption and mismanagement as well?
Illegal construction and land related disputes
Often referred as Pawar family’s political bastion, the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation made it in the headlines several times during last year because of demolition of illegally constructed residential properties in various parts of the city.
Today, there are thousands of illegally constructed residential properties that may face hammers and bulldozers during coming months. You might feel surprised, but several of residential colonies constructed next to IT hub, Hinjewadi, are illegal according to reports. The area lacks basic facilities and amenities due to improper development.
Illegal construction in red zone, illegally extended buildings, returning acquired land to agriculturists, water crisis, and acquiring land from farmers for government projects are some of the issues that PCMC is already facing.
Pimpri Chinchwad was not included in Smart City mission because of all the above-mentioned reasons. Residents are suffering because of several planning related errors made by PCMC’s officials and politicians.
Unfortunately, instead of hammering down illegal buildings, the Maharashtra state government has recently legalized more than 66,000 illegal structures, perhaps, to get political benefits during next year’s municipal elections.
Developmental work has slowed down
Abolition of Octroi followed by the LBT and reducing industrial activity has led severe reduction in the Municipal Corporation’s revenue. This is one of the main reasons behind slow pace of developmental work in various parts.
Several projects were started by the previous government under JNNURM. Some projects were scrapped by the Modi government after coming to power, while those in incomplete status may require additional funds from the civic body. But, even the city’s politicians may not have any idea about the number of months that these projects may remain in cold storage for.
Some of the most important slum rehabilitation projects are on hold, and people in these localities are suffering on a daily basis. Recently added village areas in PCMC still lack basic facilities, including good roads, and sewage system.
All the taxpayers pay equal amount of taxes, but development work differs from one part of the city to the other. Some areas are so much developed that corporators do not find any work to spend their funds allotted for development. On the other hand, some parts under PCMC are in such pathetic condition that you might not even believe that you are within PCMC limit. It’s sad to see that development is only in limited parts of the city.
Development work has slowed down, but city’s mayor still managed to go to Spain on study tour last year. I wonder why she didn’t donate air tickets money to farmers instead of going to Spain with her husband.
Poor public transport
Like neighboring Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad also faces transport related issues. The city was famous because of its large road network that connects some important parts with one another. But, the long pending BRTS project has ruined it all. Major cities in the country are opting for Metro rail, but politicians and authorities in Pimpri Chinchwad as well as Pune are keen to keep on spending central government’s money on BRTS even when surveys suggest that it is slow, inconvenient, and expensive for passengers. Pathetic may prove to be the right word for BRTS routes in Pimpri Chinchwad.
Congress and NCP have wasted central government’s funds on BRT. Hope minister Venkaiah Naidu reads all the reports before approving funds for such projects. (BRT projects were approved during congress rule at the center and state of Maharashtra).
Pune’s IT hub, Hinjewadi is also part of PCMC. Surprisingly, the public transport in this area is considered the worst. Techies often get robbed when they take lift from private vehicles due to lack of public transport. But again, no one seems to be concerned.
Hinjewadi comes under MP Supriya Sule’s Lok Sabha constituency. She is NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s daughter. Sule made several commitments about improving the area’s public transport in 2013. But, nothing impressive was done until the end of Congress NCP rule in November 2014. Perhaps, underground ring road and Metro rail can sort transport related issues in both, Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. But, Devendra Fadanvis Government also does not seem to be interested in improving Pune/Pimpri Chinchwad’s public transport.
City still attracts real estate investors
Even in spite of illegal structures and rampant corruption, Pimpri Chinchwad is still known as one of the most impressive cities in the state of Maharashtra. City’s infrastructure is impressive because of big and clean roads, flyovers, gardens, parks, and some of the best residential societies. The city has won JNNURM “Best Performing City” award in the past. Overall the city has utilized two thousand crore under JNNURM for various projects.
Records suggest that the city scored 72.50 percent during central government’s evaluation carried out for Smart City mission. This score is better than several other cities, but in spite of this, the city was rejected by the central government. Corruption, land grabbing cases, and illegal buildings within PCMC limits are some of the main factors that led to rejection. Will politicians and civic officials correct their mistakes?