Badly lit junctions haunt residents of Baner, Pashan since lockdown

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THE PANDEMIC EXCUSE FOR CIVIC LAXNESS

Despite repeated complaints, PMC has still not fixed the high mast street lights in these and surrounding areas, such as Balewadi, Aundh, Sus Road, even as the city approaches new restrictions; this has led to accidents as well as fear of crime

If it suddenly feels like not much has changed since the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year amid rising cases, residents of Baner, Pashan and Aundh would testify that administrative nonchalance about public facilities has certainly not improved.

Since the last lockdown, residents of these areas have been consistently reaching out to Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) about dark and unlit spots in their area, where the civic body has installed high mast light that are not in working condition — and till date, many months later, their complaint has still not been resolved.

According to residents, poor illumination makes passing through these junctions a risky affair, especially now with very few people on the road post-sunset thanks to the night curfew.

The denizens of these areas have gone out of their way to conduct a survey of key link road areas of Baner, Balewadi and Pashan-Sus, identifying numerous junctions where they say regular commuters face a lot of problems on a daily basis due to bad lighting.

For instance, the junction around HP petrol pump near Pallod Farms, the Veritas junction that connects to Baner-Pashan link road, the one near Crystal Garden complex, Pancard Road, a road connecting to Someshwarwadi and more — these are all just a handful of areas that are poorly illuminated since at least six months now, with the civic body not appearing in the least interested in resolving the issue.

Vihang Shah, a member of the Baner-Aundh-Pashan citizen activists group, said, “It has been half a year now that we are following up with PMC about making the high mast lights at some junctions of our areas operational. But the civic body is not paying any attention to our complaints. With the night restrictions being imposed at the moment, it has become all the more unsafe for residents to travel from these areas due to antisocial elements and bad roads — but we are just forced to take the risk time and time again.”

The high mast street lights have been out of order for at least six months now at Veritas junction, near Pallod Farms, along Pancard Club road and more spots; PIC: MAHENDRA KOLHE

Some citizens testified to facing the nightmare already at these hotspots. Deepak Kale, a resident of Sus Road, said, “My wife had gone to her parents’ place in Baner and was returning home via Baner-Pashan Link Road the other day, where a group of people was sitting in the dark and started passing lewd remarks. She had to return to her parents’ place and called me to pick her up. If the area had been properly illuminated, nobody would dare sit there and harass women.”

Some commuters have also met with accidents due to the dark spots, and claimed that even after complaints, the civic body has done nothing about the same. Vilas Kothari, an IT professional from Baner, said, “I was traveling on my bike from Someshwarwadi to the main road, where there is a sharp turn. However, street lights in the area were not operational and I could not judge where the road ends — my bike skidded at the corner. Luckily, I was wearing helmet and not riding at high speed, so I did not sustain a serious injury. However, I feel that PMC is waiting for some serious mishap to happen in these areas before fixing such a simple issue.”

All the complainants said PMC officials give them continuous excuses instead of working on their problems. Dr Mahendra Patwekar, a member of the Baner-Pashan Link Road Vikas Samiti, asserted, “From last year’s lockdown till date, I have filed at least 40 complaints with the civic body, but they have closed each and every one of them without redressal. When I contacted officials, they first stated that there was a lockdown, hence they could not carry out any work. Now, even after Unlock, they have been giving the excuse that they do not have sufficient funds to carry out repairs.”

When contacted, Shrinivas Kandul, head of the electric department for PMC, said, “There is no such thing of us being short of funds to carry out such repairs. I will personally look into these complaints and see to it that they are addressed on a priority basis.”



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