Civic activist Major General (retd) SCN Jatar, who has been lobbying for proper implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Pune, has alleged that Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), had utilised funds to the tune of Rs1,500 crore released by central government for BRTS, ‘to widen roads’.
Using the Right to Information (RTI), Act 2005, Jatar had obtained the minutes of meeting chaired by SK Lohia, officer on special duty (OSD), urban transport (UT) department, for implementation of high quality integrated BRTS in August last year. In the minutes, Lohia had pointed out several flaws in the manner in which the project has been implemented in the city.
The pilot BRTS project from Katraj to Swargate and Swargate to Hadapsar, was executed by the civic body just prior to the civic elections of 2007. Jatar and other activists had alleged that the hurry and lack of planning for the implementation of the BRTS was due to political pressure by tainted city MP Suresh Kalmadi. The total cost of the implementation of the pilot project was Rs1,24.7 crores for a distance of 12 km.
The above meeting was attended by municipal commissioner Mahesh Pathak, Vinay Deshpande, officer on special duty (OSD), Jawaharlal Nehru national urban renewal mission (JNNURM) cell and several other officers.
During the meeting, it was pointed out that the way, several important links were ‘inadvertently left out in the detailed project report (DPR), approved by the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)’’. Around 9 links were identified by Lohia and the civic body was directed to submit a revised DPR, for approval under JNNURM.
Six lanes which were already approved under JNNURM, were singled out by Lohia for having low demand. It was recommended that these lanes be deleted from the BRTS corridors. During the meeting, it was suggested that the civic body take sanction from the JNNURM cell for the work undertaken as part of routine road improvement. Lohia had strongly recommended that PMC goes for only dedicated corridor network.
“Since day one, we have been pointing out that the civic body had not implemented the BRTS in the city. All the money sanctioned by the state government for implementation of BRTS has been used for road widening. The Centre also did not keep a close watch on the way the funds were spent,’’ said Jatar.
Vivek Kharwadkar, additional city engineer PMC, was not available for comments.