Pune’s Link Road will improve air quality at Law College Road but damage Vetal Hill: report

Written by Ajay Jadhav | Pune | Published: February 6, 2020 1:41:19 pm

The PMC report said the 2.1 km Link Road is needed to cater to increasing traffic congestion in the area. File

The proposed 2.1-km Link Road between Balbharati and Paud Phata will damage the ecology in parts of Vetal Hill but improve the air quality around Law College Road, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)'s environmental assessment report has concluded. The Link Road was proposed in the 1987 and 2007 development plans to ease traffic congestion on Law College Road.

Though it was not opposed by local residents, the project was later approved under section 205 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporations (MMC) Act. However, the proposal was struck down by the Bombay High Court on January 1, 2016, on the grounds that it did not take into account its environmental impact. After approval from the state government, the PMC restarted the process to develop the 2.1-km Link Road between Balbharati and Paud Phata, a portion of which passes through Vetal Hill. "It is found that despite addition of public transport, bus routes of PMPML and considering a moderate vehicular growth, the proposed road is needed to cater to the traffic that connects the suburbs of Baner-Pashan to suburbs of Kothrud-Warje.

The existing Law College road will be grossly inadequate to cater to any future growth," said the Environmental and Social Impact Study (ESIS) undertaken for the project. It further said, "There will be marginal improvement in air quality at locations on Law College road immediately. Further, due to faster commute time, commuters will be less exposed to air and noise pollution."

As per the cost-benefit analysis, the reports states that the road will lead to significant savings in travel time and vehicle operation costs. It also mentions that slum dwellers that are in the proposed alignment have shown a positive response to moving if an alternate house is provided to them in vicinity of the current site. The report has also recommended "mitigation measures for the prominent environmental impacts of the proposed project mainly to the hydrological recharge capacity and biological resources, mainly flora in the project site".

"This is necessary because the proposed road passes through areas that are rich in biodiversity, ecologically sensitive, comprised of a man-made forest and used regularly by thousands of people for morning and evening strolls," the report added.

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