Predictably, the city finished low in terms of transportation facilities, financial services and social infrastructure. Overall, though it came out tops making it the strongest contender for being designated the next metro, according to the report. Ahmedabad was next in line, Lucknow third and Chandigarh last among the four tier-2 cities considered.
The study, conducted between October 5 and 25, took into consideration the commercial importance that Pune has been gaining in the last few years as also the need for a seventh metro city given the pressure the existing six face due to rising migrant population, crumbling infrastructure and manpower and space crunch, said Koteshwar Prasad Dobhal, spokesman for ASSOCHAM.With nine universities, 80100 private and public institutes and six governmentrecognised R&D centres, Pune had no trouble bagging the number one position in the education sector.
The report graded Pune the city with the most optimistic business environment, taking into account its share of 32.71 per cent of the total jobs tracked for the period January to June 2008.
The number one position in infrastructure availability may surprise many Puneites.
This may be explained by the fact that the study ranked cities on the basis of such aspects as the number of entertainment avenues, malls, multiplexes and star hotels. Here Pune, with 26 malls and multiplexes and 25 star hotels, bettered the other three cities. On the flip side, the absence of a railway junction left Pune at third position in transport facilities. It also lagged behind in literacy, which denied it the top position in social infrastructure. The study took into account the presence of quality institutes, quality workforce and cost of living.
In financial services, where the study considered number and density of offices of scheduled commercial banks, transparency in trading systems and presence of brokerage firms, Pune was third.
Pradeep Bhargava, chairman of the Maharashtra cell of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), explained how Pune could compete with three major cities and come out tops. He said it can be attributed to the city’s proximity to Mumbai, which gives it access to many of the facilities that the capital enjoys, such as the presence of RBI and an international airport.“Also this shows the contribution of private entrepreneurs towards the city’s social, educational and cultural infrastructure as against the neglect by the state government towards the city’s physical infrastructure,” he said.
Unless the infrastructure and other facilities in the city are upgraded, the metropolitan tag will do little for the city other than giving it a place in the pecking order, Bharagava warned. Otherwise, he said, among the four cities only Ahmedabad was capable of offering serious competition to Pune in such an evaluation.