Deccan Gymkhana Parisar Samiti (DGPS) member Sushma Date, who has studied the previous traffic study prepared by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for the road, told TOI that very small percentage of commuters was likely to use the proposed Balbharti-Paud road.
Date said, “Looking at the traffic figures quoted in the PMC study report for Law College Road at German Bakery and at Athavale Chowk, one can make deductions about how the proposed road may do little to reduce the Law College Road congestion. At German Bakery, over 1.16 lakh vehicles ply daily. At Athavale Chowk, the number is 34,301. How do you explain this drastic change in numbers from 1 lakh-plus to 34,301 on the same road?”
Date added, “Coming from SB Road towards Nal Stop, most vehicles must be turning left to go towards BMCC Road, Bhandarkar Road, Prabhat Road and Shastri Road. Coming from Nal Stop towards SB road, vehicles are added from the same lanes to the Law College Road traffic. So, the number reaches 1 lakh-plus at German Bakery. None of these commuters are likely to use the Balbharti Road, as it isn’t along their destination.”
Harshad Abhyankar, director of the Save Pune Traffic Movement, said, “We should also note that of the 34,000 vehicles at Athavale chowk, a quantum will be turning left at Nal Stop to go towards Deccan or Mhatre Pul. These commuters too will be unlikely to use the Balbharti-Paud road. This means that only a part of the 34k vehicles at Athavale Chowk (say, about 1/3 rd ) would use the Balbharti-Paud road. In that case, about 87% of the Law College Road traffic would still stay on Law College road, which is hardly any reduction in congestion.”
Abhyankar said the PMC’s earlier study stated that the real solution to address congestion was to strengthen public transport. “But all these years, the PMC has not started even a single bus route to directly connect Law College road with Paud Road. The frequency of PMPML buses is pathetic. Shouldn’t these simple measures be attempted before concluding that a road, that too through an eco-sensitive area, is the only remedy?” he said.
Prashant Inamdar, member of the expert committee on Balbharti-Paud road, said, “The two traffic studies earlier conducted by the PMC have failed to prove that the proposed road would definitely serve the intended purpose of decongesting the Law College road. Moreover, if built, it would have very severe and irreversible environmental impacts.”
VG Kulkarni, head of the PMC’s road department, said, “The arguments by the experts have no ground. We have so far done three studies on the need of the proposed Balbharti-Paud Road. All the studies stressed the urgent requirement for an alternative road to decongest Law College Road. The road will be built.”