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It is a matter of pride for me to pen an article on the occasion of ‘Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav.’ Pune is one of the most prominent historical cities of India having a glorious past, an innovative present and a promising future. As a people’s representative and a part of city administration since the past 20 years, I have witnessed a colossal change in the character of the city. The rapid growth transformed Pune from being known as a pensioner’s paradise to educational city, administrative center, IT corridor and now to a bustling economic hub.

The city has experienced a long-standing urban tradition: it was one of the most prominent cities in India during the times of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and the Peshwas, one of the earliest cities in India to be at the centre of pre-colonial urbanism, then as an important military centre during the British rule, after independence as a rapidly growing contemporary industrial centre, and today it is identified as a growing metropolis. Although, the city has been at the center urbanisation since long, its rate of growth has quadrupled since 2014. Under the able leadership of Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi and former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Shri. Devendra Fadnavis, the city is now at the center of development with over Rs. 30,000 crore plus projects at various stages. If you roam in the city, you can sense that it is witnessing one of the strongest pushes towards development in the recent times.

When the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power at the Pune Municipal Corporation in 2017, it was a known fact that historic city had everything, except the planned development. We were missing the seriousness in town planning and infrastructure development. Take the example of Metro Rail Project. When the Central Government decided to extend the Metro services to all the prominent cities, Pune was amongst the top contenders in the early 2000s. But, the lack of political will of the then ruling parties pushed the development of the city back by almost a decade-and-half. Pune saw the actual beginning of the construction for Metro in 2016 under the dynamic and growth-oriented leadership of PM Narendra Modi and the then CM Devendra Fadnavis. Since then, we have witnessed relentless efforts towards the planned development of Pune city. Metro is absolutely necessary for convenient and affordable public transport in an ever-growing city like Pune. Once operational, Metro will strengthen the public transport and will ease the traffic chaos on the streets.

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" Pune is a leading city in every aspect of life. It is a city that determines the path of cultural, social and political consciousness of the nation. Our city is known for leading important political and social movements in the history so far.

To take this legacy forward, we are working extensively to make Pune stand 'first' in every field. To share every detail about this initiative, we are presenting a new forum called 'PUNE FIRST' ".

Ganesh Bidkar

Leader of the house, Pune Municipal Corporation

While we are at it, the existing public transport – Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Ltd. aka PMPML (jointly operated with the neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad), was totally in shambles. A fleet with unfit and frequently breaking down buses had become the marque of PMPML. The BJP-led PMC has made it a history. We decided to go with the cost saving and eco-friendly electric fleet. This decision made Pune the only city in India to procure electric buses for public transport. Now, as a policy, PMPML has discontinued procuring diesel buses. It will only go with either electric or CNG buses in future. Moreover, to make the public transport easily accessible to public at large, we rationalized all the routes. These decisions proved to be pivotal in revitalizing the PMPML. We can now proudly say that Pune has the highest number of green public transport buses in the country. A vision and commitment for development is seen in every decision that is taken to make our city better.

I belong to the first ever civilised part of the city – the iconic Kasba Peth. Pune was a hamlet in 613 AD consisting of about fifteen huts, situated slightly away from the Mutha River. It is told that the city got its current name from what it was known as, way back in 768 AD. Owing to the confluence of two rivers Mula and Mutha, the city was known as ‘Punya Vishay’ or ‘Punaka Vishav’ in 768 AD. It a great pride to live on the banks of Mula and Mutha. These rivers are an integral part of city’s culture. Sadly, political as well as administrative negligence deteriorated the condition of these rivers. The BJP-led PMC firmly backed the Rs. 2,000 crore plus project to rejuvenate Mula and Mutha considering the next 100 year’s timespan. The actual work on this 11-phase project is about to begin shortly. Within the next few years, we will see the riverfront beingdeveloped as per global standards. The citydwellers will soon be able to take a stroll across one of the best developed public places in the country – the rejuvenated Mula-Mutha riverfronts.

After the adoption of an economic liberalization policy in the 1990s, Pune started making big investments in Information Technology (IT) and manufacturing industries and gradually gained its position as an IT and automobile hub. However, as per a recent study done by BJP Pune, it is found that the city lost its sheen at the national and global level due to various factors. One of these was the lack of proactive initiatives to bring global investors to the city. There is an average annual decline of 3.57 % in the overall foreign direct investments (FDIs) in Maharashtra over the past few years. If not attended seriously, it is estimated to decline further till 2025. In order to regain the city’s national and global pride, the BJP-led PMC has established an Investor Facilitation Cell, which will act as a one-window system for all the foreign investors, businesses and countries. It is the first-of-its-kinds initiative and we are sure that it will bring a sizeable investment in and around Pune, and will create more employment and business opportunities, eventually. PMC is doing this because the strategic development of Pune will boost the development of the state and the nation.

Renowned author Edward T McMahon wrote that growth is inevitable and desirable, but the destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how! BJP-led PMC is committed to develop Pune without distorting its identity and character.