Of false manifestoes ....
Better roads, improved public transport, housing for the poor, protection of vacant lands, a network of special townships around Pune, formation of the Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority, 24x7 water supply and a slew of other promises dotted the election manifesto of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) before it rode to victory in 2007. “We promise pothole-free roads, elevated roads, flyovers at Nal stop chowk , Tilak road, Alka theatre chowk, a link road around Pune,” NCP's manifesto reads. Yet, there is another civic election in February, and many projects have yet to see the light of the day. “All the promises were humbug and the NCP has fooled the people. This year too, they will come with the same promises with new words. In fact, we should ask political parties to stop publishing their manifestos as they have no meaning,” senior citizen V S Bhagwat said. There were other assurances too. An international airport within 50 km from Pune, a corruption-free municipal school board, a weekly vegetable market for farmers, de-silting of Mula and Mutha rivers, hospitals for poor, manure and paper manufacturing units based on garbage recycling, no increased taxes and a focus on recovery of outstanding tax dues have remained non-starters even as the NCP has begun preparing for the civic polls in 2012. Since traffic is among the major concerns, the NCP promised the appointment of the Central Institute Road Transport to prepare a detailed traffic and transportation plan which never took off. The NCP also promised better execution of the Bus Rapid Transit System after consulting traffic experts, but it has remained in a shambles. The sky bus and metro rail project are non-starters and the NCP's flip-flop on the metro for Pune has raised questions over its future. The NCP’s promises of tenements admeasuring l00 sq ft to slum dwellers and redevelopment of wadas and development of townships around Pune never took off. The party ensured the merger of the PMT and PCMT into a unified transport body that would take the region closer to the PMRDA, but that decision has not had the desired results and both municipal corporations now want to scrap the merger as the PMPML has not addressed commuters woes. The cash-strapped PMPML got a lease of life this week when the state directed the Pune and the Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal corporations to cover its financial losses till 2013. This means that the two municipal corporations will have to share the transport body's projected losses for a few years. On the cultural scape, the NCP's promise to start Chhatrapati Shahu Maharaj cultural centre at Hadapsar is being kept, while the memorial of Marathi poet Ga Di Madgulkar; auditoriums, cultural halls and entertainment centres in 23 fringe villages remain on paper. “Political parties have taken people for granted and they feel they can deceive people with false promises every election. The civic body and the government have turned blind eye towards the growing problems of the city,” college student Harshada Sahasrabuddhe said. NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said the party had tried to implement the promised projects. “There were technical, political and legal problems in the implementation. We will give a project-wise account to citizens explaining why they are nonstarters. There are issues that the ruling party had to look into while implementing projects. We will continue to pursue the promises we made in the last elections and incorporate the projectsin this year's manifesto."
WEAKENING STAND AGAINST ENCROACHMENT Among the promises on which the NCP rode to power in Pune was its intention to protect vacant land and stop encroachment in the manifesto. But in reality, it opposed any probe into the encroachments. In 2010, the party opposed then municipal commissioner Mahesh Zagade's proposal to appoint a committee comprising a retired high court judge and an IAS officer to probe the failure of the administration to execute the 1987 development plan (DP) and look into illegal constructions, encroachments, blocking of streams, issues pertaining to building permission and administrative failure. The flooding of some roads last monsoon after a heavy downpour had sparked protests in a general body meeting. During the meeting, Zagade had admitted that the civic administration was responsible and sought a detailed probe on the encroachments on water bodies in the city. However, the NCP opposed his move and the party admitted that it had asked the state government to move him as he was ‘not listening' to them.
ASSURANCES GIVEN, RARELY KEPT
BETTER ROADS: Pune is back to square one with bad roads
IMPROVED PUBLIC TRANSPORT: PMPML's poor show continues
HOUSING FOR POOR: A distant dream
PROTECTION TO VACANT LANDS: Encroachment continues
NETWORK OF SPECIAL TOWNSHIPS AROUND THE CITY: A non-starter
PUNE METROPOLITAN REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (PMRDA): Remains on paper
24X7 WATER: Still in process
INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT WITHIN 50 KM FROM PUNE: On paper
CORRUPTION-FREE MUNICIPAL SCHOOL BOARD: Allegations continue
WEEKLY VEGETABLE MARKET FOR FARMERS:A non-starter
DESILTING OF MULA AND MUTHA RIVERS: Incomplete
MANURE AND PAPER MANUFACTURING UNITS BASED ON GARBAGE RECYCLING: A non-starter
WHAT THE CONGRESS PROMISED
INTERNATIONAL STANDARD ROADS: Remain on paper
PIPED GAS SUPPLY TO ALL HOUSES IN PUNE: A non-starter
CONCESSIONS TO INDUSTRIES OFFERING 75% JOBS TO LOCAL YOUTHS: Just a promise MEDITATION CENTRE IN MEMORY OF LATE BALASAHEB BHARDE: Never started 50,000 HOUSES FOR SLUMDWELLERS: Only an assurance
METRO RAILWAY: Stuck in red tape
BUS RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM: Limited to pilot project, Congress corporators now oppose the BRTS
SKYBUSES AND TRAMS: Not even discussed in the last five years