The year that was 2021: Pune metro, PMC’s property tax regime gives hope; The threat of Covid-19 remains significant

As another pandemic year draws to a close, here are some of the city’s biggest stories in 2021. Not all of these stories were positive, but their impact on citizens has been enormous. As you browse through these stories, you will realize that while there is hope for a better future in 2022, there are warning signs as well. Covid, politics, the Pune metro and crime were naturally the main topics of the year.

Covid has robbed many families of their loved ones. A man (center) is consoled by two other men at the Yerawada crematorium. (Pratham Gokhale / HT Photo)

Covid and vaccination campaign

In early 2021, when everything looked positive with the number of Covid cases dropping and most restrictions lifted, things suddenly changed when the second wave hit Pune. The number of cases and deaths was quite high compared to the first wave and, as a result, Covid dominated the year the most. If 2020 has been catastrophic, 2021 has been even worse. During the year, the district of Pune recorded more than 12,350 deaths from Covid, far more than in 2020, when the number was 7,767. At the same time, nearly 793,000 people were infected. by the virus this year against 372,655 contaminations in 2020. These were not just figures, the Covid has deprived many families of their loved ones. In some cases, the virus has destroyed entire families as citizens have watched health infrastructure such as beds, oxygen and medicine fail. Although the first wave helped the city increase its bed capacity, the increase in the number of cases in 2021 revealed gaps on the delivery front involving the city and district administration. In January, India also launched its ambitious COVID-19 vaccination campaign, one of the largest in the world. Starting with health workers and frontline workers, the immunization program has been gradually opened up to all adults in the country.

Infra projects led real estate in Pune

In terms of infrastructure, the Pune metro project, which was first mentioned in 2002, completed the five-year foundation-laying event in 2021 in which the Prime Minister was present. The hope offered by the managers of the Pune metro to start its operations in 2021. Five years since, the reality on the ground is different. In fact, only 50 percent of the work was completed by the end of the year. If the operations on the priority section – between Sant Tukaram nagar and Phugewadi – have been postponed several times due to incomplete works; The mass exodus of migrant workers in May-June only delayed the project which promises to be the panacea for the city of Pune in the absence of robust mass transport. For a city of more than 50 lakh of inhabitants (including that of Pimpri-Chinchwad) moving daily through traffic jams, poor air quality and bad roads are a daily misfortune as well as a punishment. . It all gets worse when the city streets get flooded every now and then, even with a few inches of rain, something the Puneites obediently observe – and move on. At the same time, not much has happened on the airport front as the government reconsidered its decision and explored another site for the airport proposed to Purandar. Although he can’t be satisfied with that too. While the existing Lohegaon airport was also partially operational during certain months of the year, when it had to be completely closed for two weeks before Diwali. In the case of multi-level overflights ”; the work at Chandani chowk was inaugurated by trade union minister Nitin Gadkari three years ago, and the work only gained momentum this year. However, the works of the Katraj-Kondhwa road widening project have had no development.

Ajit Pawar, CM deputy walks among supporters and workers of the NCP party at the inauguration of the party office near the Dengale Bridge. Large crowds, not following the Covid protocol, have been criticized by the BJP. (Photo HT)

Political heat is rising

In a penultimate year of elections to the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), differences between the ruling establishment and the opposition at the local level have often surfaced, with both sides engaging in harsh criticism. However, at the same time, there have been occasions when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as the ruling party, and the main opposition party, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), have allied themselves, in particular on major project issues. At the same time, the NCP and Shiv Sena have also hinted that they will join hands for the next municipal polls, while the local congressional leadership is still determined to act solo, although the three parties share the power within the state under the banner of Maha Vikas Aghadi. The highlight of the year was also the chic new offices that the NCP and BJP built. With this, the party offices of Congress, NCP and BJP came closer. In the last month of the year, the BJP appeared to woo the polls by bringing in Union Home Secretary Amit Shah. Shah attended various programs including the event at PMC premises where the foundation stone for Babasaheb Ambedkar statue was laid while another statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj was unveiled.

The best of PMC is yet to come

Among the issues that dominated the most this year was the proposal to rent leisure spaces in the city. Although the BJP insisted, other parties and environmentalists opposed it, which ultimately led the civic body not to move forward. The PMC, after opposition from the local population, had to suspend the proposed redevelopment of the Taljai Hills, which included the development of some theme parks. During July of this year, PMC launched its special air-conditioned bus service that runs through some of the most congested parts of central Pune. The strong point of this new bus transport service is its price. The public transport organization controlled by PMC, PMPML will only charge ??10 for an all-day ticket and a commuter can travel to any central part of the city. So far, the service has received a positive response from the population. The PMC, with the help of the Pune Metropolitan Area Development Authority (PMRDA), also succeeded in starting works on the square of the University Savitribai Phule Pune (SPPU) where an existing bridge had to be demolished due to proposed work on the metro. On the property tax front, PMC has done a commendable job of increasing its income through the amnesty program it proposed. However, the equivalent 24×7 water supply system was a complete mess as the project proceeds at a slow pace, while the roads dug in various places in the Peth areas caused great inconvenience to the people. Considering this, the PMC is ready for elections early next year.

Pune police are seen filtering the scene of the shooting in Bharati Vidyapeeth where a builder was shot dead in broad daylight. (Rahul Raut / HT PHOTO)

Violent crime on the rise in Pune this year

The city’s criminal record in 2021 was rocked by a string of shooting incidents in the last three months of the year. There have been five incidents with a murdered criminal record in some cases. There were also isolated cases of murder. The year began with the news of the death of a woman linked to former minister Sanjay Rathod. Although his death never turned into an FIR because the police only recorded it as an accidental death case, the minister had to resign after criticism from several quarters, including the BJP. Cyber ​​crimes have also increased year over year with an increase in the use of digital mode for transactions. For the city police, the last month of the year went well as they solved a series of recruitment and paper leak cases while discovering a large network of officers, officials and businesses. organizations responsible for organizing examinations.

Penny D. Jackson