Part 1, Whither HCMTR?: HCMTR should be restricted to public transport only, says Sujit Patwardhan
Should the proposed High Capacity Mass Transit Route (HCMTR), also envisaged as the Inner Ring Road, be restricted to public transport as instructed by the deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar? Or should it be a full-fledged elevated road for both, public and private transport, as was planned by the Devendra Fadnavis government? Would it be short-sighted to construct a narrow HCMTR, not keeping in mind the city's future requirement?
Or is Ajit Pawar on the right track? We present a series of views on the subject. What is Parisar's view on deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar's instruction to restrict the HCMTR for public transport only?
We welcome the change to restrict HCMTR for public transport only. It has been our demand since the project was envisaged to keep it exclusively for public transport. We don't know the reason why deputy CM Pawar took this decision- whether it is a political decision to corner the BJP or not.
Whatever may be the case, we fully support the decision to restrict it for public transport. We have always been opposed to allowing personal vehicles on this route as it goes totally against the concept of HCMTR. Pawar, who is the city's guardian minister, and the Pune municipal administration, have proposed a Neo Metro on the HCMTR instead of the Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS).
What is Parisar's view on this? Neither Ajit Pawar nor the civic administration are transport experts. It is good that they have decided to restrict HCMTR for public transport.
However, instead of Neo Metro (metro coaches with wheels), it would be better if electric buses are used on the HCMTR because it would then help bring down the operational cost as well as pollution. There is slight opposition to the HCMTR on the pollution front and the problem would be addressed if electric buses are introduced on the route. The deputy CM has advised that the width of HCMTR should be brought down from 24 metres to 8 metres.
Do you think reducing the width is wise, considering the future demand of the city on the mass transportation front? This is a mindset issue where we feel that road widening is the solution for traffic problems. Across the world, everyone has used the tool of road widening and flyovers, but after some period, the widened roads seem narrow due to the rising number of vehicles.
Thus, we need to come out of the road widening and flyovers solution and need to concentrate only on pubic transport. There is even a need to charge heavy parking fees to discourage use of personal vehicles. The HCMTR was first proposed in 1982 and till today, it has just remained on paper.
How do you view this delay? The HCMTR was one of the important features of the draft Development Plan for Pune published in 1982 and sanctioned in 1987. The intention was to substantially enhance the public transport service and to change the existing travel pattern.
This was perhaps the first dedicated public transport road in the world, even before the BRTS concept was introduced. But our bad luck is that no one is interested in improving public transport. Now, there is a scope to change the alignment as this was planned in 1982.
This project will be helpful for strengthening public transport.