Sunday, June 26, 2011

Accidentsche Shahar!

No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in a morning.  …Cyril Connolly

A good city is the one which offers good infrastructure to its residents & when we are talking of Pune becoming the next best Metro of the country it's our duty to see that the city stands to its requirements created by the growth. One very much important factor is roads & the safety they provides to the commuters. On the back ground of some recent very nasty road accidents in the city I think this is very important factor in the city image as well real estate. One will ask what relation between roads & real estate is. But remember real estate deal with living of people in the city & no aspect can’t be untouched by this industry which deals with the living of the people in the city. As the quote says a man decides to settle down in a city by considering all the factors. After all what are the expectation from any city, bare minimum good water, good roads are the very primitive & basic needs as rest follows. On this aspect what’s happening in our city? Every day we open news paper & we found some accident news taking lives of a few & leaving injured a many. The death toll in a year is far more than those have lost lives in bomb blast in Mumbai!

Let’s see some of the facts & figures on this front.

Figures from the National Crime Record Bureau’s (NCRB) 2007 report explicitly mention that in proportion to the city’s population, Pune ranks first in the number of road accident fatalities. The report also shows that in the same year, Maharashtra recorded the highest number of deaths due to road accidents in the country. In the year 2007, there were 3,40,794 such deaths recorded in the country. Out of these, 58,552 took place in Maharashtra alone.

According to the NCRB report, in the same year, Mumbai recorded the highest number of deaths in Mumbai – a total of 8,897 were killed in road accidents.  The state capital was followed by Pune with a total of 3,357 deaths due to accidents reported. This may be covering entire Pune region along with the accidents occurring on Express way, yet the truth remains that we are numero uno here! Other cities like Nagpur and Nashik registered a total of 1,534 deaths and 894 deaths, respectively.

Interesting thing is, although Mumbai has the highest number of deaths in the state, when these figures are looked at in proportion to the population of the city, Pune ranks first in the accidental death rate in the country. The report shows that the rate of accidental deaths in Mumbai is 54.4 while the same rate for Pune is 89.4 per lach population of the city & which is the highest in the country. The rate of accidental deaths for Nashik is also on the higher side at 77.6 while for Nagpur, it is 72.3.  

Sure these were 3 years back reports & recent reports would have only added to new high. It's not mere figures but it's the fear in the mind sets of the people residing in the city which also one has to count. I have tried two wheeler driving in the city & can imagine the risk it involves. Now one will say what one can do about it's the people who are driving like crazy & they are paying for it, what the city has to do in it! Well, we need to think as it’s our roads, our traffic & our people who are loosing their lives & faith from the system. Here are some figures about the Public Transport i.e. our beloved PMPML, popularly still PMT.

The total number of buses is much less as compared to the needs of the city. Transport experts recommend at least 40 buses for 1 lakh population, so Pune should have at least 1200 buses, whereas the present number is 850. Even of these, just 650 are on the roads. Nearly a hundred buses breakdown every day. This number is so high because
of the poor quality of the spare parts. And the buses in running condition are also in such a rickety shape that only those who have no other alternative travel in them. Because of all the above reasons, the frequency of the bus service is very poor; on top of it, the buses run late, very often they get cancelled too; consequently, bus users have to spend a considerable amount of time waiting at bus stops; finally, when the bus does come, it is often overcrowded! Worse, inefficiency for the reasons well known, have made the bus tickets very costly, so that for the poor, even the public bus system is no longer affordable when compared to other city's public transport! And so the number of bus users has been coming down and today just 22% of the city’s population uses the public bus service. There is propaganda about projects like BRT but except in few patches the system isn't a success is a well known fact.

Growth of Private Vehicles...
Because it takes so long to go anywhere by the PMT, whoever can afford it buys a scooter/motorcycle or a car. The result is: Pune’s become swamped by private vehicles. The number of vehicles in the city has crossed 14 lakhs, and is increasing by the hour. Every day in Pune, more than 450 vehicles are registered – 13,000 a month, 1.6 lakhs a year. And
even this huge growth is increasing every year, at a whopping rate of 33%! It is evident that this growth rate is simply unsustainable. Urgent steps need to be taken to curb this increase in the number of vehicles. Otherwise, Pune’s roads, already heavily congested, will get totally clogged.

And here is where the main key lies for the other outcome arising from this ever increasing number of vehicles on the roads? Road accidents will increase which we are all experiencing all ready. Not to forget the emission of N number of gasses due to combustion of various fuels. Let’s keep them away for some time but the main question remains, is the city going to make the residents safe on road? And what concrete plans we are having for the same? First and fore most is to make the conditions of road proper as that itself will help in avoiding accidents of two wheelers. As many a places we see the road has been dug & no proper signage is there or the chambers covers of drainage line are not in level or the tarring work is not in level & the edges of the layers cause the vehicle slip & the list goes on. And as a responsible citizen we too should not just blame the PMC but try to inform the authorities in the best way we can, as we are best at criticizing but worst to do things at our end. Even as a developer when ever we have to cut the road or make some such job then we should be keen on making the road back in proper shape. Even the cycle tracks & footpaths are not in good shape making commuters impossible to use them & this leads to mix traffic on main roads causing more accidents. Stringent & strict traffic rules implementation along with helmet is a must & I still can’t understand a learned /educated city like Pune has worst traffic sense! Here we have to teach ourselves & make us think for not only self life but others who are using the road too!

Another important factor which nearly ever NGO as well media has tried to put forward is improvement of Public transport, as this has no substitute! We don't need any scientist to tell us about the importance of Public Transport as the more people will use the same the lesser vehicles will be on road & obviously the fewer accidents there will be. And a good public transport system is life line of the city & unfortunately we are cutting very own of ours.

The side effects are pollution, cutting of trees and forests to make new and wider roads to accommodate more vehicles is going to make pollution levels increase at double quick rates, because trees are pollution sinks. The quality of life in the city will also rapidly worsen, as open spaces and gardens get used up to build parking lots for cars.  When we speak about growth of our city it's not just IT parks or Education Institutes we have but the living atmosphere we provide to so many of residents which have migrated here for good life. No two minds about need of the time as we need roads & parking spaces for the existing vehicles as strengthening of public transport isn't one night job but let’s not forget that the trees & human lives are more important than the cars. And it's all of ours job to make the both survive & grow in safe environment. Then only we will be real proud to call our self a real good Metro City of coming era! Because then only more & more people will choose this city as their home & contributing for wellness of the same!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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