There is no denying the immense contribution made by the Information Technology industry to Pune’s development and the short period during which Pune became one of the IT hubs of the country. This fast-paced development has almost transformed it from a tier II city to India’s seventh metropolis.
|Construction is on in full swing at an upcoming IT complex in Kharadi
But there is a flipside to this story, as the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) recently found out. In their recent bid to have a roadmap in place for sustainable development of the city, the PMC stumbled upon the curious fact that the IT industry’s presence in the city is causing a significant strain on its natural resources as well as the basic infrastructure.
These findings have been reported in the in-house Environmental Status Report compiled by officials from PMC’s key departments and which was tabled in the General Body meeting on Monday.
This draft report speaks of the enormous stress faced by the city’s infrastructure due to the IT professionals’ penchant for a luxurious lifestyle. According to one interesting observati
on in the ESR, bathtubs are now common place in high-end residential apartments which lead to use of excess water.
Almost every IT professional owns either a two or four wheeler which has led to crowding of road space and related traffic problems.
When it comes to environmental pollution, the ESR claims that the IT companies rely on diesel generators for alternative power, which contributes to air pollution. The e-waste generated by the IT industry also finds a mention in the report.
Since the ESR was commissioned only to encourage and guide the civic body in finding ways of mitigating the predicaments which arise out of the industrial boom and the population influx, no solutions have been provided for this draft document. It has been left to the civic administration and the city fathers to find and suggest the remedies.
Ramchandra Gohad, former town planner with the State government said, “The ESR reveals the ground reality of the city but the civic body should have thought about the impact when IT companies set up shop in the city a decade ago.
The city planning should have been done after considering all parameters related to the IT industry. It’s not too late, they must concentrate on the lacunae which the ESR has exposed and solve them in the Development Plan.”
According to Deepak Shikarpur, Chairman, Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture’s (MCCIA), Information Technology Committee, “IT industries have led to Pune’s economical growth by creating employment for themselves and other sectors too. IT professionals and companies pay various taxes to the government, so they have the right to get adequate facilities from the civic administration.”
“Providing residential units near IT offices can reduce some road congestion. We should learn from the Bangalore experience while taking appropriate steps soon,” he pointed out. He further said, “Due to high bandwidth connectivity, IT professionals will work from home in future and that could lessen our traffic and other problems.”
Lamenting the lack of foresight shown by the powers-that-be and their subsequent inaction, Dr D K Abhyankar, former Director General, MCCIA, said, “During my MCCIA tenure in 1996, we had demanded the formulating of a policy for developing infrastructure, keeping the IT industry in focus.”
“Ten years ago, we exulted when achieving $1 billion in software exports. Today, that figure has crossed $3.5 billion. The employee growth has been exponential but the civic amenities have failed to keep pace. No wonder these problems have come to haunt us.”
PMC’s city engineer Prashant Waghmare observed, “The expansion of the city is a continuous process and nobody can stop it. There is only one option for any city — either grow or die.
Pune is still developing and fast becoming the seventh metropolitan city. When a city grows, we have to face all kinds of problems. However, we are solving them through initiatives like the Metro railway, ring roads, flyovers, BRTS, 24x7 water supply etc.”
The IT Impact
• Lifestyle expense has gone up
• Increase in skilled workforce means more people, and increase in the floating population too
• One IT employee creates 6-7 employment opportunities
• No of cell phone users, hotels, shopping malls has gone up
• Vehicle numbers, both two and four-wheelers, are up
• Showers, bathtubs in residences means more water is being used
• Pressure on roads has increased due to more traffic
• IT-related courses means more students
• No of hospitals and playgrounds have gone up
• Construction activity has increased, causing air pollution. Many IT companies use diesel generators
• E-waste from IT companies
Water cut by giving us the overflow
► The expansion of the city is a continuous process and nobody can stop it. There is only one option for any city — either grow or die. When a city grows, we have to face all kinds of problems
- Prashant waghmare, PMC City Engineer
► I live in Kondhwa and I have to travel to industrial areas like Chakan and Talegaon for work. Water-logging increased my travel time to around two-and-a-half hours. Plus, there was no place to wait out the spells of rain.
Traffic jams were a major issue. For example, roads leading to Lullanagar Chowk are so bad that you get stuck for about 90 minutes. I have stopped travelling by that road. Civic authorities must be knowing all this, as we face the same problems every year in the rains. A better drainage system is needed.
- Manoj Gautam, Corporate Relations Manager, Monster.com
► My office is in Narayan Peth and I stay in Rajendra Nagar, near Mhatre Bridge. I use my two-wheeler to travel. Usually, I take about 7-8 minutes to cover the distance, but it took me 35 minutes today.
The traffic jam was so bad that I stopped at a tea stall. Since I have no option but to use the same route, I listen to music to kill time. Also, when it rains, workers don’t turn up at the construction sites. The funniest part is that river development starts only when the rains begin.
- Neeraj Doshi, Architect
► I stay in Chikli and I have to travel to either Senapati Bapat Road or Hinjewadi for work. While it takes me around 35-40 minutes to reach S B Road and 30 minutes to get to Hinjewadi.
But today, there was a massive traffic jam. But en route S B Road, there was chaos at University circle and I had to wait for 30-35 minutes. So I took the opportunity to make some calls. My cousin, who travels by bus, was stranded as the bus broke down. Plus, the potholes are a mystery, as always.
- Vikram Bajpe, Sales & Marketing Manager
► I stay at Sus Road and travel to Kothrud for work by bike. It takes about 30 minutes usually, but today it took me two-and-a-half hours. Plus, due to waterlogging, my bike broke down. I did not get a lift and the autorickshaws refused to ply.
One charged me Rs 130 for a trip that costs around Rs 60. I did not pay and pushed my bike to my workplace. The bus service is unreliable. Public transport should be easily available for long distance travel.
- Soham Shinde, Software Engineer
- As told to Sapna Sarfare