A few decades ago, the question of where to live in the Pune Metropolitan Region had only one rational answer – in Pune, and as close to core areas like Kothrud or Sadashiv Peth as possible. The Pune Municipal Corporation or Pune Mahanagar Palika, established in 1950, controlled (and continues to control) the whole administration of Pune City. As such, the kind of civic infrastructure and amenities that made life tolerable anywhere in the city were provided by the PMC. There was no Plan 2 – people could either live within PMC limits and get the basic experience of urban life, or choose to live somewhere outside the PMC limits and put up with considerable hardships.
Though the neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) was formed way back in 1970, it was initially not seen as a serious alternative for Punekars. In earlier years, the PCMC was developed primarily as an industrial area whose focal point was the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC). In the first place, the persistent ‘industrial area’ tag was quite unappealing to residents of Pune – and to be sure, the PCMC did not have much to offer. It was a ‘C’ class municipality, with everything that this classification implied more or less reflecting on the ground in the PCMC’s residential areas.
All this changed when the Pimpri Chinchwad New Township Development Authority (PCNTDA) was formed in 1972, and charged with the responsibility of developing the areas towards the north of the Pune Metropolitan Region. This marked the birth of Pimpri Chinchwad New Town, where residential and commercial spaces were planned and developed according to a pre-determined blueprint.
The effects on the urban fabric of the region were profound and almost immediate. In 1975, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation was upgraded from a ‘C’ class to an ‘A’ class municipality. Today, it is the most prosperous municipal corporations in Maharashtra, and is seeing a very rapid growth to the tune of 6% annually. The PCMC has also emerged as a far more desirable region to live in than the Pune Municipal Corporation. This is primarily because everything that makes life easier in a city – such as water and electricity supply, roads, green open spaces and safety – is more abundantly available in the PCMC.
As Narendra Modi had correctly identified long before he became Prime Minister, infrastructure is the backbone of any modern city. Without the benefit of steady infrastructure building and upgradation, a city will eventually not be able to match up to the needs of its growing population. This is precisely what has been happening in the Pune Municipal Corporation, which has not had the benefit of planned, logical development.
Furthermore, the most vibrant employment hubs of the Pune Metropolitan Region – its automobile and manufacturing industries as well as the Hinjewadi IT Park – are situated in the PCMC. It is far more convenient for people working in these establishments to live close to their workplaces than far off in the primary city. Living close to work also means that they can reach there by public transport, which is also far superior in the PCMC – both in terms of quality and reliability. This, coupled with the attraction of more affordable real estate prices, has sparked off a steadily escalating outward migration from Pune’s core areas into the PCMC.
Naturally, this fact has not been lost on property investors who map the movement of demand for residential real estate so as to anticipate where the highest returns are possible. Today, for all practical purposes, PCMC is the New Pune – the city for contemporary Punekars to work, live and raise a family in.
Authored by: Arvind Jain, Managing Director – Pride Group