PUNE: Deep Pai felt someone must have played a prank when he was told that a notice proposing the widening of the Vyankatesh Pai Path, off Prabhat Road Lane Number 9, has been pasted at a remote corner of the last building in the lane.
The lane has five notice boards right where it starts. Three of them give details of the buildings and bungalows along it. The other states the lane is a “dead end”. Two of the five notice boards were installed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC).
“Hence, I was under the impression that the civic body, which plans to invite citizens’ viewpoints about the road-widening, would paste the notice on any of these boards. I never thought it will try to hide the widening plan from us,” Pai said.
Fifty property owners staying in eight bungalows and buildings along the lane providing an approach to the Dnyankoshkar Ketkar Road, a link between the Kalmadi Shamrao High School and Prabhat Road, have objected to the widening move last week — a month after the deadline for the same got over.
The civic body promptly replied to them stating, “The time limit for accepting the suggestions and objections was over on 30 January. For further correspondence, please contact officers concerned of respective zones of the building permission department.”
The residents called on the civic officials last week and handed them over a letter. “To paste a notice on an inaccessible corner of the compound wall and to expect objections within 30 days from the date of notice not only shows callousness but ulterior motive to cheat the public,” the letter stated.
On why the road-widening notice was not put up on the boards at the entrance of the lane, a senior civic officer, who did not wish to be quoted, said they were put up by junior staff members.
“We had not instructed them to paste the notices at inaccessible places. Also, the list of all the lanes to be widened is still available on the PMC’s website,” he said, adding that the objection had come much after the deadline. The process to hear the 1,500 objections received earlier was nearing completion then, he said.
The officials also argued that Section 210 of the Maharashtra Municipal Corporation (MMC) Act stated that the notice was to be put up “on the street or a part of the street” shortlisted for widening. The act does not prevent the civic body from putting up the notice at the dead end, provided it has also been advertised through newspapers.
In their objection letter, the residents argued that most of them had stopped subscribing to newspapers because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Considering the pandemic, the widening proposal should have been given proper publicity, it stated.
TOI earlier highlighted the objection of Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena leaders to the move. They questioned “en block” approval to the list of roads to be widened arguing that separate advertisements for each road shortlisted for widening should have been published in newspapers as mandated by Section 210 of the MMC Act. The Shiv Sena leaders requested the state urban development department to stay the PMC’s proposal.