Dated: 3rd May, 2017
In 2015, it was a typical mid May scorching summer , a season I equally adore with winter and monsoon, when I joined the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority as its first full fledged employee, fifteen days after creation of the Authority. It’s the same scorching summer of May, when I have handed over the charge to my successor after a less than two years of an eventful tenure in 2017.
I am leaving this young organization, which was not just designed by me but also shaped it into the futuristic 21st century governmental start-up and innovation laboratory for administrative processes, market behavior, dynamic economic models, turbo urbanization for livable cities with highest happiness index, premier international investment destination to function as growth engine for the country, employment led growth with lowest energy intensity per capita, virtual office eco-system for beyond one window systems with zero delays, less governance and minimum expenditure on the organization with an endeavor for ultimate transparency. This was to showcase the country and the world how governmental organizations can function in an internet savvy age and gear up to assimilate cognitive analytics into everyday functioning, rather than mere continuance as extension of fifteenth and sixteenth century office environment. Of course, it was a challenge to break away from the traditional overpowering views about governance from powerful stakeholders, within and without. However, together we could make definite headway in a very subtle yet in a robust manner.
It was a twin challenge to create and shape this organization as well as to implement the mandate assigned to us and with your round the clock support, we could cover substantial ground in a short span of less than two years despite usual overt and mainly covert impediments and hindrances.
To recapitulate the tasks, may I refresh your memories for the sake of taking these forward, if you consider it appropriate to do so…
1. We have, except a few tasks, converted office processes as paperless. Our next ongoing endeavor was to create virtual office and to make need of physical office and building premises eventually redundant, paving way for minimum human interventions from our side, making PMRDA services available 24X7X365 days by eliminating formal office timings, no holidays, no need for stakeholders to travel to our office premises. We have made sufficient budgetary provisions for this and had also Intellectual engagements with experts to develop virtual office by assimilating emerging technologies of big data analytics, block-chain and especially the cognitive systems similar to IBM Watson software. This would lead to ultimate solution for ease of doing business and provision of services to citizens in a most transparent manner and heavy reduction of bureaucratic apparatus with permanent saving in public expenditure.
2. As a definitive and concrete step towards development of processes for highest level of Ease of Doing Business, we have combined preparation of Existing Land Use exercise with creation of land parcels database with an accuracy of less than 10 cms along with all the natural and anthropological attributes/parameters including accurate coordinates, contour mapping; data pertaining to rainfall, radiation, wind velocity, roads, railways, surface and ground water information, land titles and every other attribute that is ever needed by a citizen or a businessman. We were about to complete the most powerful and very comprehensive, first of its kind Geo-portal in the country. You may consider to launch it in a few weeks time so that the stakeholders can get benefits of it, all across the world.
3. Mumbai-Pune axis is one of the fifty urban agglomerations on the planet around which most of the world population is slated to get congregated. We have, therefore, conceptualized most modernized 21st century cities with highest livability index and sustainable economic activities by identifying sectors for job and wealth creation. This was to be achieved through planning tools for which we have already issued tender inviting agencies to take up Town Planning Schemes by adopting disruptive innovations. This topic is a humongous and we have finalized all aspects of it to create future ready cities, which you only need to execute now.
4. The Existing Land Use Plan is almost ready and , therefore, you need to publish intention for preparation of Development Plan as per vision that we have created during last two years.
5. We were to create most modern, intelligent and futuristic ring-road Economic Corridor on the outskirts of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations, especially with a vision to make it accident-free and environmental friendly tourist destination. The DPR needs to be finalized immediately so that the project implementation can happen in next three years as decided.
6. The Hinjewadi-Shivajinagar metro route conceptualization, preparation of DPR and invitation of tender were completed in an unprecedented shortest possible time-frame and procurement of fifty acres of land for metro depot was taken up to advanced stage. We were planning to implement this project with unprecedented speed to commence its commercial operations within two and half years. You need to just keep pace of the implementation.
7. The massive project of Indrayanikathi encompassing 18 kms stretch of Indrayani river between Lonawala and Kamshet has been taken to advanced stage. As you are aware that this largest river development project is being developed as an international tourist destination, an alternative to some of the popular world class happening places.
8. Water is going to be most scarce resource in coming years and therefore, we have prepared water account which is placed before a sub-committee for vetting it. This will have to be taken to logical conclusion by making a holistic plan for entire PMR so that it could be utilized for about 2.5 crores of population and economic activity.
9. The PMR is blessed with very interesting river network system, however, the same is facing serious threats from ever increasing pollution. The project for river improvement taken up by us needs to be completed within a short time frame before the situation gets out of hand.
10. We have also designed modalities for giving boost to economic activity by identifying sectors of economy through disruptive innovations of which you are well aware. I implore all of you to give highest priority to this as any urbanization without wealth or job creation would be a creation of sterile habitations leading to more problems than solutions.
11. We have invested a lot of time in creating right atmosphere for the development of intensive and high value Agri-horti-floriculture sector for international market. We have decided about the model also. Please try to implement the same.
12. We had three successful meetings with the team of Hyperloop as exploratory exercise to understand whether this nascent transportation system could be implemented in PMR and between Pune and Mumbai. As you are aware that the project could become feasible and if implemented it would take about just 11 minutes travel time between these two cities. You may continue the dialogue with Mr Bebop of the Hyperloop.
13. The innovative organizational set up for water supply is almost on the verge of its launch. You should facilitate approval of water sourcing from the Water Resources Department.
We had embarked on a very massive exercise with very clear vision and objectives to make PMR as an international premier investment destination and the points mentioned above are just indicative short list of what we were implementing. You may enumerate all other projects for making PMR as a successful urbanization model of 21st century.
I considered my posting, as the first employee of the organization, as a kind gesture by Hon Chief Minister , who had reposed confidence in me and provided us with vision and robust support to take forward his vision to an advanced level . All of you worked in unison for advancing his mandate.
I am well aware that, in governmental set up where traditional administration is considered to be the norm and out of box thinking is not always welcomed , you supported my non-traditional ways and disruptive methodologies, albeit with an occasional resentment. Let me put on record my appreciation for your hard work and team spirit. We faced many challenges from traditionalists, however, you stood by me for whatever progress that we have made. I don’t recollect any shortcomings except that we did not take our initiatives in public domain and you all are aware of the reason for the same.
I wish all of you a grand success in professional and personal lives.
With best wishes…..
( Mahesh Zagade )
Ex- Metropolitan Commissioner & CEO,