Friday, November 6, 2015

Happy Diwali or Diwala for the Smart City?

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”... Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was an American author, poet, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and was credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.  Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. Why I used this quote is it’s high time that our so called Pune Rulers or Leaders or Bosses whatever we call them should recite this quote of Maya! As usual this city never stop making me amaze with the acts or say incidences it throws at me; it’s like mythological “amrith manthan”, as every day something new comes out here in our city but the difference is here no gods & demons are involved in the “manthan” but only demons & whatever comes out of the churning is bad & more bad! Mostly it throws “Vish” i.e. poison in the form of unpleasant things & rarely “Amrith” i.e. a potion which makes a man invincible to death! I don’t know about death but these rulers of ours have powers to make someone dead while he is very much alive, is a bitter truth.

Look at the news or why news the pahataka stalls itself, all along the river side road, I reside on that road & since last many years, every Diwali, the entire surrounding locality is getting suffered due the fire crackers stall our PMC is allowing to be installed here. The road is a major link for west part of the city & in any condition any road can’t be the site for fire crackers stall is a fact. Earlier when the traffic was less & the locality wasn’t developed, some brain in PMC must have thought it as ideal place for the purpose & later it became a practice! To such extent that now for nearly a month long these stall holders acquire the entire road, dig it for their stalls & block it by their boxes & vehicles standing day long in the middle of the road; but the same PMC which is so fussy about encroachment & illegal establishments, legalize this day light robbery on rights of the citizens of their free movement!

Not just encroachment, no safety norm is being followed regarding fire or even road accidents & no parking is there on the road for all the visitors or say buyers of these fire crackers. Every year the administration says next year they won’t permit such permission & every year they surrender to some so called rulers of the city! This year every news paper, local citizens tried to oppose, even the administrative heads of various departments from encroachment to road to fire, all has given negative opinions about the permission for these stalls yet our rulers have capacity to un do every negative remarks & yet the permission has been granted to the stalls. And before anybody could protest, the stall holders have erected their stalls along the road! Had this been done by a private builder or industry then entire the very same bunch of rulers have created such a scene that the city is being ruled by the builders but when the rulers does illegal then what? No one has answer; there is a famous saying in Marathi “Kumapnach shet khate”! Means the fence itself eats up the crop which is supposed to protect the crop & the saying fits best to our city! Another interesting fact is no MLA or any minister or senior leader shown any interest in this matter or deliberately turned their heads from this issue which has been talk of the town!

And joke is all the rulers are showing interest in so called poor phataka stall holders, where as in every school they are educating the very children of the city not to use fire crackers! Already the air & noise pollution levels of the city has gone beyond any permissible limits & in such condition instead banning all phataka stalls in the city, our rulers are happy in encouraging the citizens to burn more fire crackers! The best reply will be let every citizen decide not a single fire cracker will be purchased from any of the phataka stalls including those on the roads. That will be the best message the citizens can send to the rulers that no more your whims ruling us, but we rule our city & our future!

And it’s not just stalls of fire crackers where these rulers has  blind folded themselves against any public opinion but you open  the news paper on any day & all you read about some individual or group of individuals or a political party’s benefit is what considered above interests of the citizens! Take the concreting of the road, I doubt even the gods can answer the need of concreting the roads even the narrow by lanes of the suburbs have been concreted, killing entire biodiversity along as well rain water absorbing capacity of the city. On one side environmentalists as well the very same administration which controls building permission is screaming for allowing more rain water to seep in the ground & on other side the PMC itself not following any of the water percolation norms! Again by whose orders, we all know!

Let’s take example of Metro terminal at our ex garbage depot at kothrud; one party says there has to be monument of Shivaji Maharaj & yet the administration has finalized the space for metro terminal! Ok no issue but then give alternate location for the Metro terminal, isn’t it the ruler’s responsibility to decide that too & do it in proper time limit! Now on one side every passing day metro’s expense is getting increased by crores of rupees yet we are involved in basic debate like where the metro terminal should be made! With this speed we don’t need a horoscope reader what will happen to public transport of the city as on other side PMPML the infamous public service of the city is starving without funds & BRT has become laughing stock. The drivers of these PMPML busses are so negligent that they feel signals are meant for other vehicles & not for PMPML but no senior officer from PMPML or our rulers from PMC feel to make any arrangement like keeping check on their signal jumping & make them drive in discipline! As they feel it will benefit the public & not any party, so why do it?

The famous merging of adjoining villages is now something that even Hon CM who holds the urban development department, also given up the hope for their fate! As earlier a picture is created that now it’s just matter of few days & now the talks behind the doors are some particular party will get benefitted due to merging of these villages so let’s hold the decision of merging of the villages around the PMC limit! What a noble thought; as benefit of one party is above benefit of the entire city & if it’s not so then nobody speaks or clarifies what is status of this decision as entire villages around the city are being used for building thousands of complexes but without any basic infrastructure like roads or drainage or water! So who will provide the infrastructure to them as already the builders have paid thousands of crores rupees premiums to so called govt for the development of these complexes here! But no ruler is interested in looking after how their voters are surviving in these newly developed concrete legal slums on the name of complexes & the authorities (these too keeps on changing) are saying its builder’s responsibility as if he is taking money from the flat holders then he should provide roads, water & drainage! Well then let the builders only provide the schools or public transport or market & even hospitals also to the city & then why we need so many govt departments & general body or even legislative assembly also! Let builders make their rules & run the State!

What all above examples shows us is dark future of the city; as agreed few officers & media do speaks about making the City Smart but the actions needs to be in hand with the words or else it’s just one more talk show! And a city isn’t going to become smart by some central govt’s competition but it become smart by the kind of environment it will offer to its resident. Here we seek participation of the citizens in making city smart & in actual, citizens is the most neglected lot when their own issues or say their own day to day life is at stake. The day is not far long when what’s use of such smart city is common man will ask & then the very same rulers will again get involve in pass the buck game for the failure of smart city!  

Need is to teach all these people who considers themselves as rulers or fathers of the city, that a city is made by only the citizens & no more even the democracy can guaranty you a good life. As after getting elected the very same your representatives becomes only their own & don’t care for anybody else & then their interests differs from yours, it’s high time to digest this truth! On this entire background its not “Happy Diwali” for the city but its “Diwala” (bankruptcy) is what we are heading for as a city! The only way is get on the road & show your agitation openly as that’s last option left or else this will be City of Dead like the poor river of the city has become dead & so many other things which once we had pride of! As the Maya Angelou has said the rulers of this city should understand (if at all they have left with any senses which I doubt), that the people will never forget you make them feel dead while they are alive which is worst then actually becoming dead, & the outcome of this act will make the rulers pay sure, as I still have some belief left in the God, which is the only hope for our dear Smart City!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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