The CYG is here !

The Commonwealth Youth Games opens in Pune today.The National Games held at Balewadi 14 years ago provided a booster shot to the city’s infrastructure. Along with the construction of a mega sports complex in an obscure village, better roads and other facilities were planned for Pune city. Land was acquired and roads were widened, bringing a smile on the faces of citizens. This year, with the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) , the city has witnessed another round of infrastructural development. The benefits of hosting the Games are there for all to see. Major roads have been widened and concretised, the bus rapid transit system (BRTS) has been spruced up, and the Balewadi sports complex has been renovated and expanded. The question being asked now is: does Pune need a similar push every now and then to improve its infrastructure? “Yes, the city does require a push to galvanise the development process,” says Naushad Forbes director, Forbes Marshall, Pune, and chairman of the CII innovation and manufacturing sub-committee. “But one should also distinguish between real and superficial development. It doesn’t suffice to spend funds merely on painting the sides of the roads or applying a thin layer of tar which will get washed away in a few months.” Veteran social activist Mohan Dharia believes that we simply cannot afford to wait for international events to happen if Pune has to come onto the global map. “Development should be a process and not a one-time thing. We are far behind other cities in the world in terms of infrastructure,” he said. National Games changed city’s face Pune: Similar to what happened 14 years ago for the National Games, the Commonwealth Youth Games in its wake has brought about massive infrastructure development in the city. For the National Games, the road from the Pune airport to Raj Bhavan and all the main roads leading to this road were developed first. Ganeshkhind road and the Pune-Mumbai road were given a facelift. It was for the first time that public-private partnership (PPP) was allowed for beautifying chowks and road dividers, with the private parties being given advertisement space. The build-operate-transfer scheme was also initiated then. The next round of infrastructure development, limited though, came with the creation of information technology (IT) parks at Hinjewadi and Kharadi. Then, in 2004, the Central government launched the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which was aimed at planned development of cities. The government would provide financial assistance to cities which would meet the mission’s criteria over seven years. With Pune meeting the criteria, funds started pouring in for developing infrastructure. Around the same time, Pune won the bid to host the CYG. Ganesh Natarajan, managing director of Zensar Technologies, believes the CYG was a good opportunity for the city to upgrade its infrastructure. “However, we didn’t make full use of the opportunity. Look at Beijing, which made the most of the Olympic Games held there. A lot needs to be done,” he said. Arun Firodia, founder and chairman of the Kinetic group of companies, says public transport should now be given priority because enough attention has been paid to infrastructure in terms of roads and flyovers. “We are only inviting more traffic. Priority should be given to the metro rail project and public transport,” he added.

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