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Kharadi: The ugly face of rapid development
Like many other localities in the outskirts of Pune, even Kharadi's demography shows a concentration of retired couples, IT professionals and young trainees. None of these people actually have the time to devote to the problems of the region
KHARADI IS a region that has seen sudden development in the outskirts of Pune. With some major real estate opportunities and the development of the IT Park at Kharadi, it joins the league of areas like Pimpri-Chinchwad, Hinjewadi, Wanowrie and the like.

Many up market builders like Kolte Patil, Gera Developments and Niyati are advertising for their latest ventures at Kharadi. Also, VSNL has shown already keen interest in the new Kharadi SEZ, which is an EON Free Zone in the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation Knowledge Park in Kharadi. But how strong is Kharadi infrastructure-wise to actually accommodate the needs of these homes and offices, the waste that will be generated and also travel to the outskirts of the city.

Kharadi comes under the Yerwada ward in the north of the city. The Environment Status Report (ESR), 2008 of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) mentions some statistics to understand the ward level indicators of development. The concentration of households in Yerwada is about 75 per cent, which indicates that the localities around Kharadi are developing at an exponential rate indicating progress in the area.

The electricity consumed in the Yerwada ward is around 75 per cent, indicating a good rate of development, as the use of technology is directly connected to the electricity consumed. With respect to the high development index of Yerwada, the availability of storm water drains does not complement the development; it stands at a meagre 10 per cent. The waste created by the IT park and households cannot be efficiently disposed off in this scenario. But the root of this lack of infrastructure lies elsewhere. The tax dues collected in the area is just about 10 per cent, which shows the lack of willingness of the people to pay tax and the consequent lack in adequate amenities.

Vasant Patil, the Yerwada ward officer when asked about the status of the various amenities such as availability of PMC water, sub stations, transport, roads, etc, could not share much information regarding the amenities of his ward and instead redirected me to the PMC for information. Despite the lack of proper PMC water supply in Kharadi, the ESR suggests that the consumption of water in the Yerwada ward, whose constituent is Kharadi, is very high.

A resident of the Niyati Empire Housing Society for past four years, Udita, says, “There are a lot of problems with the water here; we get PMC water every alternate day for 15 minutes.” Owing to this irregularity, households here have to depend on water tankers for their daily water. Concurring with the residents' voice, Patil said, “The supply of water is low now; there is no particular time table either.”

Suman Pathare, Kharadi Ward Corporator, though claims, “PMC has implemented a new scheme because of the water problem in Kharadi. A one crore rupees scheme has been started. We right now get water only from Holkar Plant and Ramtekdi, this scheme will connect a pipeline from Ghorpadi to Kharadi.” But there is no sign of this project which is underway.

The Government proudly boasts of a sewage treatment plant underground drainage system and fully asphalt roads with footpath and side gutters around the Kharadi Pune IT hub. But Suman Pathare reckons with the status on the ground, she says, “Around the IT area 100 feet and 120 feet roads will be laid. The tenders are yet to come out. It will be a 200 crore project and will take some time before it is launched.”

So far the only one good road that Kharadi can boast of is the Nagar Road. 'The Mundwa road is in a very bad shape and the PMC is not doing anything about this, heavy traffic passes on this road but it is not on their priority list, says Udita. And while the roads are laid, the autos of the Kharadi locality fleece the residents. Suman Pathare diplomatically aligning the auto-wallahs, said, “The autos here have a minimum rate, they do not follow the meter system and have their own rates, which suits them and helps them make profits.”

Upset with the lawless behaviour of the auto-wallahs, Udita says, “They charge us double the price and some who have no personal transport have to give in. And I have never seen buses here either.” 12 Ha of land is meant to be allocated for transportation hubs including, roads, parking lots, bus stands, etc, but when asked about the status of this project, Suman Pathare said, “The land has still not been acquired, it will take four years before anything concrete can happen.”

With regard to the drainage system, it is interesting to note that the existing capacity of the sewer chambers of Kharadi is only 40 Million Litres per Day (MLD), and the PMC has proposed a project to benefit the residents of Kharadi just last year.

Nearly 8.5 acres of forest cover of Kharadi should be developed by surrounding the forest cover by RCC wall, soil and water conservation, plantation activities etc. But Suman Patahre though positive that the ‘map of Kharadi will change by 2010’ said that nothing has been done to the effect of protecting forest cover. The plans of the PMC are altruistic and some development indicators also suggest that Kharadi is developing and cannot be stopped, but the lack of proper amenities and infrastructure could very well bring down that index.

Added to the displeasure of the residents is the lack of a Mohalla Committee or a Housing Society Owners' Association, which can take up these problems with the PMC. Like many other localities in the outskirts of Pune, even Kharadi's demography shows a concentration of retired couples, IT professionals and young trainees. None of these people actually have the time to devote to the problems of the region. In a scenario like this where the PMC failing in carrying out proposed projects, if the residents are more active and take up the cause of the society some results can be expected.

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