Analysis of PMC's implementation of NMT projects in the 09-10 budget

The budget of PMC has been increasing with every passing year, with the transport sector typically getting the highest allocation. However, the allocation for non-motorized transport (NMT) in the transport sector budget is often very small. Only Rs. 54 crores (7%) was allotted to NMT friendly projects out of Rs. 814 crores earmarked for capital expenditure in the transport sector in the 2009-10 budget. Parisar recently finished a study to evaluate how many of these projects were actually completed satisfactorily by PMC.

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Out of 99 NMT related projects listed in the budget, Parisar conducted site surveys of 63 projects. Only 19 projects (or 30% of those surveyed) had been satisfactorily completed. Another 19 projects had either not been completed i.e. work was in progress or it was completed but unsatisfactorily, i.e. it would not benefit pedestrians or cyclists for whom it was meant. 25 projects (40% of those surveyed) had not even been started. The situation is even worse for cycling related projects, as 6 out of 7 projects had not even begun.

The picture is much worse if one looks at the status in terms of budget allocation rather than number of projects. Of the Rs. 29.2 crores worth of projects surveyed, projects worth Rs. 23.9 crores (82%) had not even started! Projects worth Rs. 1.7 crores (6% of the amount budgeted for surveyed projects) had been completed satisfactorily, while projects worth Rs. 3.6 crores (12%) were either in progress or completed unsatisfactorily. This shows that PMC has only managed to take up and complete small-ticket items in the NMT budget.

Parisar also asked PMC for the status of completion of all 99 projects through various RTI applications. It is sad to report that it received replies regarding the status of only about half (53) the projects. Of the 53 projects for which RTI replies were received, field survey had been conducted on 41. It turns out that the surveyed status of a project matched with PMC’s view of the project’s status for only 28 of the 41 projects, while it differed for 13 projects (32%).

In this situation, it is not surprising that pedestrians and cyclists are increasingly endangered in the city. 160 pedestrians have been killed in the last year alone though the PMC has set itself the ambitious goal of having 50% of all trips by walking and cycling with 0 fatalities in the draft Comprehensive Mobility Plan. If Pune is to become a NMT-friendly city, PMC must first revitalize the currently defunct NMT cell and empower it with sufficient capacity and authority to ensure that transport projects in the city are NMT-friendly. PMC should also initiate an exercise to adopt detailed street design guidelines that are pedestrian and cyclist friendly, as done by Delhi recently.

Some media coverage of this report appeared in the Loksatta, Pune edition, on 3rd Dec 2010 and Times of India, Pune edition, on 6th Dec 2010.