City Focus: Pune – Knowledge based economic hub
Pune, which churns out several thousand engineering graduates annually, has been a hub for manufacturing and IT sectors. But if it is really serious about retaining its tag as one of the most rapidly developing global cities, it must provide the right thrust to some of its planned mega projects
For decades, Pune has been consistently known for its educational institutes (in and around the city), manufacturing establishments (mostly on the outskirts and mainly driven by the automobile industry), agribusiness and rich cultural heritage. While the city has been rapidly acquiring a cosmopolitan character particularly since the late eighties, it has also managed to retain its status as the cultural capital of Maharashtra. The evolution into a cosmopolitan metro has been happening primarily due to the growing presence of several multinational companies – many of them from the IT and ITes sectors.
There are many driving factors behind the IT boom. These include a well developed educational infrastructure providing the required skilled work force, pleasant climatic conditions, healthy industrial environment, availability of land, water as well as electricity, and proximity to Mumbai. (The connectivity with Mumbai has been substantially enhanced due to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway making Pune the preferred choice for many multinationals). These are also the reasons why the overall economic landscape of Pune has been undergoing a transformation for more than two decades. This is easily reflected in the real estate growth graph for the same period. Of course, great cuisine, environment conducive for art and music, strong Maharashtrian cultural influences, interesting history and rich natural surroundings add immensely to the city’s charms.
The real estate sector has been quick to capitalise on the boom; at present there are more than 250 developers active in the region. These include local developers as well as biggies from Mumbai, North and South.
Project sizes include from single building to residential complexes as well as from one acre to 400 acre integrated townships. These cover the entire gamut of real estate – from residential projects of all types and commercial properties catering to different requirements to mixed use developments of various scales. Obviously, the supporting social infrastructure has been growing proportionately. In fact, the real estate boom has spilled over into the surrounding suburbs as well as towns. (Kothrud – one of Pune’s better known suburbs finds mention in the Guinness Book of World Records for registering the fastest urban development).
This brisk growth over the years has put tremendous pressure on the city both physically as well as demographically. Pune’s urban infrastructure has been struggling to cope with the growing demands from housing, commercial as well as industrial sectors. Although the city is well connected by road with Mumbai, other metros as well as important cities of Maharashtra, its internal road connectivity is on the verge of collapse.
The Pune Metro project to be developed in two phases is considered as one of the possible solutions to the growing urban transport problems of the city. The general body at the PMC has recently given a go ahead to the second corridor of this project. The general body has also resolved to implement a monorail project on the high capacity mass transit route in the city.
Lack of a good airport is another factor which is holding back Pune’s rise to a considerable extent. Although Pune has one airport at Lohegaon, it is basically an Air Force airport with the civil enclave managed by the Airports Authority of India. There are considerable restrictions on operations and expansions at this airport.
While the government has created a plan for the development of an independent international civil airport for Pune many years ago, not much progress has actually happened mainly due to unavailability of a proper location. The unavailability stems from land acquisition and financing issues. As of now, the government is said to be keen on developing this new airport at a location between Chakan and Rajgurunagar. However, the project is still at a very primitive stage and concerned authorities are trying to acquire the necessary land.
This delay is costing Pune substantial investments from Indian as well as foreign companies across various sectors as many of these companies need proper airport connectivity for their businesses. As a result, several companies which had initially chosen Pune as their destination have actually opted for other cities like Bangalore or Hyderabad, which have airports of international standards.
The corporate sector has suggested to the state government that it is willing to invest in the project.
Pune – Vital statistics
Area Approximately 421 sq km
Population About 5 Million
Annual Budget (2010-11) Rs3196.12 crore
Power Supply Capacity 650 MW
Water Supply Capacity 650 MLD
Drainage Collection 382 MLD;
Pumping 122 MLD;
Treatment 122 MLD
Municipal Solid Waste Total Generation 900T
Total Road Length 650 Km
Airport Indian Air Force Airport at Lohegaon with a civil enclave managed by AAI.
AAI = Airports Authority of India
The Pune Municipal Corporation has come up with its own Eco Housing Rating system to promote sustainable construction practices. Benefits include recognition as well as rebates. The assessment criteria cover critical aspects like Site planning, Environmental architecture, Energy efficient material, Water conservation, Segregation of waste and other innovative technologies. A project can aim to score a maximum of one thousand points ranging from one star for 500 points to five stars for more than 800 points. The Science and Technology Park, University of Pune and eventually Sustainable Building Technology Centre, once it is set up will serve as the apex body for certification along with International Institute of Energy Conservation. More information is available on http://www.punecorporation.org/pmcwebn/index.aspx