Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Law-less City, Traffic Jam City; Where Is Smart City?

“At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst”... Aristotle.

Well, Aristotle was not just famous for his great thinking or philosophy but to describe human behavior also which is key factor to build a society & that’s what differs a man from animals. Though if you look around the things happening on Pune city’s roads I bait animals are far better as a society than we the so called most intelligent animal, i.e. humans! And speaking about law & justice I wonder if we have left any as or else every day I open news paper & I get to read people fearing an individual’s might than the law as justice is not for common man is what most common men believes here. And why news paper, every day right from my morning ride to my badminton game I am on road at 7 am & till the time by 8 pm I come back home, I keep on witnessing numbers of examples where people hardly care for law & keeping every respect for my all friends in police, neither the so called law protectors cares for such law breakers! As right from not bothering for stopping at red signals & pushing ahead their two or four wheelers at full speed, not even caring for others or their own lives, so many Punkers’ I watch & I wonder where they want to go with such hurry? And police also are helpless, for two reasons, less manpower is one thing & lack of enthusiasm is another thing. Well, I do get frustrated by all this & the only thing I can do is write about it & share my frustration & my recent reason is two headlines in the news papers, of which I myself am victim of one of the news.

Where I live it’s on 100 ft wide DP road connecting Mhatre Bridge to Rajaram Bridge, in central part of Pune & this road runs parallel to river with huge green belt on river side. This whole green belt is  supposed to maintain as green zone actually, which is meant for conserving biodiversity in city centre & has very restricted uses as well has limitations on construction area within that zone. But present scene is all this has being used as marriage lawns, for commercial events & marriages of super riches as well social figures’ families in the city. And outcome is thousand of vehicles comes here every evening & chocks the entire stretch of two kilometers of this road which some years back was serene & quite. Last week-end all five/ six lawns were hosting marriages & on the top of it our dear PMC has started concretizing this very road, needless to say work is at typical PMC speed (read snail’s speed), so half part of road is unusable. Outcome was, mess would be a far sophisticated word to describe the situation of traffic in this area. Endless queues of every type of vehicles & constant honking of frustrated commuters, entire surrounding is filled by smoke emitting from exhausts of these vehicles & adding to fury, parking made in worst possible way on every corner of the road! And if all this wasn’t enough so there were processions (mirawnuka) going on i.e. “band, baja, baarat”, without which our marriages are incomplete. Lastly fire crackers with loud bangs filling the remaining void in making damage to human ears as well lungs! What was worst, not a single traffic police was there to manage this mess even after making hundreds of calls by residents around, nobody turned up & I didn’t blame them as I doubt whether even the police could have done any help such was the scene; as if one person breaks the law then you can hold him & punish but what if entire city breaks the law, then whom & how you will punish? Well, my answer is you are police, you punish entire city if entire city breaks the law! But seems no one is in the system to take such stand, as to punish entire city you need guts,  which definitely our law enforcement people lack, again with due respect why I am saying this has a reason, especially not just about this patch of the road but entire city traffic scene is such!

Reason is, just six months back the residents from the societies around these illegal lawns in the green belt has won the case against the pollution of sound as well garbage & air which is being generated by these marriage lawns & NGT i.e. National Green Tribunals Pune bench has ordered authorities to take action against these lawns. And not just pollution, most of these lawns have encroached blue line ie flood lines of rivers & built structures in river bed itself, the NGT has ordered to mark blue line & remove all such structures to the authorities but even after six months I am sorry to say nothing has been done & this week ends mess is outcome of negligence from the authorities which includes PMC, Pune Police, Pollution Control Boards & Irrigation department! Now tell me why the common citizen should believe in the terminology like Law & Justice! It’s not about just encroaching blue lines but many of the establishments in this green belt have build way more than what is allowed & hasn’t followed any parking norm, result is the road is open public parking space & for free! There are P1-P2 type sign boards (just for show) which not a single day has been followed by anybody as everybody knows traffic police doesn’t exists here! I am a civil engineer as well a builder too & I know the grind to design a building to accommodate present parking provisions but even with repeated pleas about the traffic jams, our Smart PMC turns a blind eye of all the illegal marriage lawn’s in the city, parking all the visitors vehicles on road as well footpath, thanks god they are not yet parking in their vehicles in our buildings which are adjoining to these lawns! And all traffic police does is make a visit when there is no event going on & reply the complainers as well to media that they have written to PMC about these lawns inadequate parking’s, but what about these lawns are illegal in first place, why no one is taking any action against them, is the question I will ask as a tax payer of this city! Also there is Mangeshkar Hospital ahead on this road & we will need air ambulance to get through this traffic mess as everyday some or other ambulance carrying or trying to reach some patient gets stuck in this traffic but the piercing siren doesn’t reach to deaf ears of the system named PMC or Police!

By the way in the very same order NGT has told to install garbage digesters as well effluent treatment plants to all these marriage lawns, which none of them has done yet & neither any PMC official has bothered to check the same & act. On the same lines why PMC doesn’t ask these lawns to have their own mechanized parking lots within their premise, if it hasn’t got guts to shut these marriage lawns? And this particular problem of parking is not of some DP road in the city but in entire State as traffic police takes action & punishes vehicles parked in “NO Parking Zones” (here at DP road that’s also not being done) instead why not punish such establishments which doesn’t provide parking for their visitors as per norms but use public roads as their private parking place? At the same time where are public parking reservations across the city, is the question every citizen should ask, as this so called Smart City neither offers good public transport nor the parking places for private vehicles, leaving the citizens to become victims of law enforcement for no fault of theirs!

On this back ground, there was one more news of traffic jam due to marriages in Smart suburb of Baner Balewadi & none other than our Ex Dy CM got stuck in traffic jam & snap was published of him using two wheeler on rear seat of one of his karykarta! Joke is marriage was of his part workers son only who is elected member from very same area, so now whom we should blame, Mr. Ex Dy CM? Do mind, common man would have been happy if you would slammed your karyakartas & party workers for blocking the roads by their illegal parking’s as well asked your party’s elected members to focus on the traffic/parking aspect of city than just attending their keen’s marriages!

One more thing I read in news paper that there is something like artificial light pollution at nights & especially when we are talking about green zones which are meant for conserving bio diversity (I wish someone really understands meaning of term biodiversity) this aspect is very important. As when we say bio diversity then we need to consider each species & as this green zone is near river then night birds like owls bats, insects & many other creatures like snakes, mongoose (which is common sight near rivers, even in city center) needs darkness at night time as part of their life cycle for activities like hunting. But with all the flood lights & thousand watts lighting for marriages it’s never dark night, in & around the green belts or rivers in the city & I am not biologist or zoologist but sure this bright light along with fire crackers at night hours is definite nuisance to all above mentioned creatures. Result is few years back there were colonies of bats on the trees along river which has been moved god knows where now, same is with owls! Well, who cares for few ugly birds like bats or owls, as what difference they make to our city life but my son’s or daughter’s marriage was talk of the town is more important for me, such is the mentality of our citizens! It’s a bitter fact & here is where role of PMC as an authority comes in picture as if this green belt is for maintaining bio diversity in city then what actions are being taken for preserving it?  

All such questions keep popping up in mind of every common man but none of the ruler has time to care for it. It seems our goddess of justice may be blind but not the people who are supposed to deliver the justice or else there would have been more respect in the eyes of every citizen for the law in this city! Till then, today it’s the birds which are going away from the green belts because our marriages & cars but the day isn’t long when no human will be able to set foot on the roads as there won’t be space left from the parking’s of our cars & bikes. And yes one more thing, oxygen also would become rare for our lungs as the air will be full of those vehicles carbon exhausts & that day we will start planning for humans & birds, which would be too late!


Sanjay Deshpande 
Sanjeevani Dev.

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