Pune's Metro - What will happen to Pune and Punekars?

"The Metro will pass along the road right next to my bungalow. Will my property rate rise or fall? Can I continue staying at my bungalow with my family? Or will this mean that I need to redevelop, amalgamate with four other neighboring plot owners and build a commercial building on this property?

While trying to answer these questions, I was suddenly overcome with a feeling that while I have been so engrossed speaking about the Metro, its technical implications (Elevated or Underground) and about the densification of the city due to 4.0 FSI, what had remained completely unaddressed by me, were the socio-economic implications of a Metro on a middle class Punekar!

I will attempt to write this blog post demystifying some of the myths and presumptions of having a Metro in Pune and its direct relevance to a life of a Punekar. For the time being, I will keep aside all of my objections to the Metro and discuss this subject, hopefully as unbiased as I can.

Lets take an example of the Metro's first proposed alignment - from Vanaz, in Kothrud to Ramwadi in Viman nagar. This line will pass on elevated tracks, about 20 meters (approx. at the level of 6th or 7th floor of a building. See photograph at the end) above Karve Road, on large columns that will be placed at the centre of the road. The total expenditure of the Metro will be shared as Pune will have to generate about 10% of the total cost, the State Government will grant about 20%, the Central Government will assist by an additional 20% and the remaining 50% will be made available through loans and other financing mechanisms. To generate the 10%, Pune has proposed a 4.0 FSI in the Metro Influence Corridor, where property owners will have to buy additional FSI at a premium rate to consume 4.0 FSI. Of course, not all properties can avail the 4.0 FSI. The plot size will have to be at least 20,000 sq ft to be able to get permission to build with 4.0 FSI.

There are two things that are to be achieved through the mechanism of 4.0 FSI. One, is to generate money for the Metro and other Metro allied development and second, is to increase the population density (number of people living in an unit area) close to the Metro line, so that there will be a chance that more people will use the Metro. So, if you have a property in the Metro Influence Zone, there are two sides to the coin of development that you will see in the next 20 years. One side, is that, if you have a property less than 20,000 sq ft and wish to redevelop your property for commercial gain, you will have to start talking to your neighbors (or get a Developer to do it), amalgamate adjoining plots to form a plot size greater than 20,000 sq ft and plan a Residential cum Commercial building on it, which will consume 4.0 FSI. Of course, to be able to consume this FSI, you will also need adequate road width abutting your plot, there should be adequate water supply, drainage infrastructure and waste management systems as these will be pre-requisites for getting State Environmental Clearance for large projects (more than 20,000 sq m built up area).  Second side is that, if you already own a plot size large enough and have wide roads adjoining your property, you will effectively see a surge in your property value.

So effectively, I see few things happening in the city of Pune: 
1. All constraints of amalgamation, investment and environmental clearances prohibits the property owner from using the available 4.0 FSI, which will mean that the plan to densify the city for the Metro will fail. There is a Cess that will be levied on properties that will fail to redevelop after the work on Metro has started. So, with the Cess amount and the additional FSI premium consumed by some property owners, the Pune Municipal Corporation will generate enough for the Metro kitty. 
2. For lucrative properties which will be economically attractive to redevelopment, we may find that property owners are unduly coerced to sell or amalgamate or redevelop their property when they don't want to. The creation of a Land Mafia, could be one of the potential outfalls of this. 
3. For home owners who currently reside in bungalow units along the Metro zone, it will mean that it is an end of an era of single homes and your options will be either to redevelop, stay in the same place in a new residential cum commercial building or move outside the city for bungalows or suburban apartments. 
4. We will see massive 4.0 FSI redevelopment in pockets of the city along the Metro, without really adequate civic amenities like water supply and drainage or parks and primary schools. 
5. Further, if such a  massive built space creation happens in reality, I wonder if any studies have been conducted to see its impact on Pune's housing market, its migration pattern and its employment trends. If we are to attract so many 'outside' citizens to Pune to densify the city, for each formal job addition, we will see 5-6 more jobs in the informal sector. So, with inadequately proposed land for EWS Schemes, this formal housing/commercial space will create informal housing or Slums all over the city at a very fast rate that we have ever seen. So, the hills that Punekars want to save as an environmental resource, will end up getting dotted with slums.
6. Once the Metro construction begins on its alignment, the additional density and the congestion will reach the zenith for some time till the construction work progresses. Punekars should pray that thsi construction goes smoothly, or any land acquisition mired in a legal battle will mean that this period of Metro construction extends beyond the estimated and causes havoc with the traffic situation in Pune. 
7. Once the Metro is up and running,  we will have a great mass transit that traverses the city. But this will have to be integrated with an effective bus transport system and even rickshaws to really make Punekars use the Metro instead of their private cars or two wheelers. If this does not happen, then once again Punekars may revert back to using their two wheelers for their daily commute.

Having laid down multiple options here, it is important to ask at this point, whether any studies have been done to assess the above 'scenarios' of socio-economic impact on the city and its citizens. If not, whether you support or oppose the Metro, we citizens should unite in demanding from the civic administration relevant studies and analyses before going further with any plans, proposals or projects that they feel are "good" for the city! Or once again, like a badly designed BRTS, Punekars will end up with a ill-designed Metro that does nothing for the city or its citizens.



  1. I entirely agree with you that studies are necessary. My observation is that both a large majority of those who oppose and those who support have not even read the existing literature on the subject. The more vociferous ones have not even understood the DPR.
    Are there none other models existing, which are close to Pune's situation so we can draw lessons from them?
    My assessment is that it will be difficult to use the four FSI and hence, there could well be shortage of funds. However, like in every other matter, PMC will violate its own rules and allow four FSI where not entitled. That is where the greatest danger lies.
    The other equally serious aspect is that PMC has give four FSI without the corresponding open areas, playgrounds, schools, parks etc. This will have an adverse effect on the quality of life of Punekars.

  2. All Pune needs right now is a prim and proper bus transport system. I happened to peruse its bus routes, and they seem apt enough to cater to the public. The problem is: the frequency of these buses. Half an hour wait times are totally unacceptable. And equally unacceptable is the irritating habit of bus conductors to not tender exact change any time of the day. It seems as if one-rupee coins are forever in short supply in this city.

    All that aside, the state of the buses is despicable. It's the year 2013 and yet, barring a few dozen, all the buses seem to have been bought way back in the 19th century!

    Just improve this transport system, and Pune need not ask for anything more for a long time to come!

  3. @ Sudhir Jatar: If people are unable to consume 4.0 FSI due to other factors, then apart from less funds generated, the purpose of increasing density is also not met. And i totally agree that when making a provision for 4.0 FSI, no thought has been given to civic requirements like parks and schools

    @Garfield DSouza: I agree that Pune's yet compact form makes Bus transport the most apt solution. But the Metro is glamourized and officials and politicos feel like the city will lag behind other cities in getting a Metro. Whether it is needed or not is, unfortunately, not questioned!

  4. I wish to understand the basic structure of metro from the areas it will pass - those structures that come either in the way or by the side of it what is to be done with them?
    Will the pmc raze them allotting 4 fsi?
    Upto what distance on both sides of the tracks will the structures/buildings be affected?
    When will the details be known?

    Abhijit Khaire

  5. Hi Anagha,

    I read through your article. It is indeed very helpful.

    I had some question

    What will happen to the people who have their flats at road side (main road) and will be demolished as per Metro plan?
    Will they get flat again at the same place or govt. will just pay compensation for those?
    Also if the compensation is paid then will it be according to govt. valuation or as per market value?
    Is there any list of name of buildings or a detailed map where we citizens can see how will metro pass? The maps which are already on internet have a macro view, where people want to look after micro view of map.

    These question is really worrying people staying on Paud road.

    Sagar Supekar

  6. Are we safe if we have two adjoining bungalow plots which combine to less than 20,000 sqft? This metro will completely affect our way of life. Our representatives really don't seem to care about the city.

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  8. Hello Anagha,

    Where will I get details about the area which is in the Metro Influence Zone?

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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