School teachers, students face sludge hurdle daily

As soon as students and staffers of Vibgyor High School in Balewadi get into the premises, they make a beeline for the rest room and patiently await their turn to wash off mud stains from their feet and legs.

Cleaning up the muck before class has become a ritual ever since it started raining.The approach `road’ to the school is nothing but a bumpy , pothole-ridden mud track that’s dusty through the year and slushy during the monsoon months. The road turns into a wet and slippery stretch of loose soil on which two-wheelers slip and pedestrians fall. This is the second monsoon through which commuters are facing the same situation.

It is a daily struggle for those living in the vicinity as well.Local residents have made several requests for a tar road between the national highway and the school but they are yet to receive a response.

The problem The condition of the road is largely due to its location –it is caught in a tussle over jurisdiction between Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the gram panchayats of Sus and Mahalunge villages. Aggrieved locals have tried everything from signature campaigns to suggesting they’d build the road themselves apart from appealing before the civic chief and the Prime Minister’s Office. Eventually , the PMO forwarded the complaint to the state government’s social justice and special assistance department.

Describing their long struggle to get the road built, local resident Ashish Bhargava said, “When we bought the apartment, the builder had assured us that the area will be included in the PMC limits soon. But that turned out to be just a marketing gimmick and we are still struggling to ascertain whether the building falls under the civic body’s jurisdiction.“

Bhargava points out that the road is nothing but a narrow thoroughfare that becomes all the more difficult to use when it rains. “Only one car can go over this road at a time.Despite being just a stone’s throw away from the smart city zone, we feel as if we are living near an international border,“ he added.

Autorickshaw drivers refuse to travel on the road, said a Baner resident whose children study at Vibgyor High School.“It’s very disturbing to hear the children complain about the roller coaster ride that they are forced to endure twice a day . All parents who go to pick up or drop their children suffer due to the potholes,“ a parent said, requesting anonymity .

People riding two-wheelers are the worst affected, pointed out another parent.

“I have seen many bikers trip and fall due to the potholes.The condition of the road is abysmal despite the fact that the area is known for its posh residential societies. In fact, the corporator had conducted a bhumi pujan on the land to mark the construction of the road earlier this year. But he later backed out saying the land does not fall under PMC limits,“ the parent said.

Passing the Buck Authorities simply shift the blame when it comes to talk of constructing the road.

The school management’s official statement said, “We are concerned about the inconvenience caused to our students, parents and teachers due to the damaged road. We have highlighted the issue before the concerned authorities in PMC and are pursuing the case in order to expedite the process. We are sure they will consider our request soon and make the commute easier.“

According to PMC officials, the school lies outside its jurisdiction. Pointing to the tricky location of the road, a junior engineer from the civic body said, “According to the area’s development plan (DP), it is envisaged to be a 24-metre road extending all the way to Sus village. But, currently , it is about 100 metres out of PMC limits and lies on the boundary of the gram panchayat, so the responsibility is to be shared. As of now, the civic body does not have the funds to build a road for people who reside outside its limits. We understand that Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation is building a bigger road in the area.“

Narayan Chandere, founder member of the Sus gram panchayat put the onus on the builders. “The road borders Sus and Mahalunge villages, so it is not the responsibility of our gram panchayat alone.The spot is at quite a distance from our core village zone and we don’t have the funds to build a road. Anyway , it is the primary responsibility of the builders who promised the road to buyers while selling them flats.They have done absolutely nothing for the area,“ he said.

MIDC officials pleaded ignorance of the exact location.“We are building a road around the Mercedez Benz showroom near the highway but we have not seen any school in its vicinity . We will check if we will cover the patch,“ an official said.

Source : TOI