PUNE: As many as 30 public utility projects including vegetable markets, gardens, gymnasiums, swimming pools and crematoriums that were initiated in 2017 on amenity spaces and for completion of the initial phases of which an estimated aggregate of Rs50 crores was spent, are now languishing either due to the lack of funds or other technicalities. A majority of these projects are incomplete owing to the paucity of funds while some have been under lock-and-key for more than two to three years.
According to civic activists, most of these projects were initiated on the back of poll promises made by politicians to appease the electorate. According to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the projects are located in different wards across the city.
One such stalled project is Bhide Garden, which is the second largest garden in the Sinhagad Road area spread over six acres of land. The garden has been awaiting completion due to the lack of funds. While the general body of the PMC had announced a budget of Rs6 crores for the development of this garden, only Rs1.50 crores have been sanctioned so far due to which only basic work has been undertaken.
Other projects that have ground to a halt include a vegetable market built at a cost of Rs1 crore, a gym constructed at a cost of Rs40 lakhs, and an unfinished swimming pool at Kondhwa. Similarly, a vegetable market built at a cost of Rs30 lakhs in Mohammad Wadi near Elena Housing Society is lying underused for a long time while construction of an e-learning school building on plot numbers 18, 19 and 20 at Gokul Nagar on the Katraj-Kondhwa Road is incomplete since the inauguration five years ago. The under-construction building is in a state of neglect and has become the haunt of anti-social elements. Some people are also using it to park their vehicles on a daily basis putting a question mark on the purpose of the project.
PMC building department head, Harshada Shinde, said, “There are several pending projects awaiting development due to the lack of funds. Such projects require crores of rupees and budget constraints hurt these projects. Every year whatever budgetary allocation is made for the project, we use the same for completion of the project.”
Former chief commissioner of income tax, Akramul Jabbar Khan, said, “We have been closely monitoring the unprofessionalism of the PMC over a decade and have come to the conclusion that the civic body lacks planning and takes up projects for populist gains. The civic body is wasting precious public resources without taking the citizens onboard by merely listening to the elected representatives. The PMC needs to keep in mind that the Mohalla Committees and civil society are very important for future projects as detailed planning has to be done for the betterment of public amenities. Projects cannot be left unfinished as it is a loss to the treasury and the taxpaying citizens at large.”
Wadgaon Sheri Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Sunil Tingare, too, alleged inordinate delay in the completion of projects. “We have been following up continuously but the demands are not being taken seriously. I raised the matter about incomplete projects in the assembly and wrote to the PMC commissioner about the issue. The PMC administration in a statement said that a review of all the pending projects is being undertaken and based on the comments of an expert committee, a final decision on further release of funds depending on the feasibility of the project will be taken,” Tingare said.
Civil rights activist Qaneez Sukhrani said, “Elected representatives propose and get allotments for skating rinks, sports facilities and suchlike on amenity spaces on the strength of public funds. Whereas we citizens feel police stations, fire stations, hawker zones and ward offices are more important. We citizens are never asked before public funds are poured into frivolous projects. Even if we suggest, we are side-lined or ignored.”