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Bogota dream lives on in city
Vinita Deshmukh, Express India (29 Dec 2004)

PUNE, INDIA: Former mayor of Bogota Enrique Penalosa made a visit to Pune and delivered an inspiring lecture on making a city for citizens and not cars. Sujit Patwardhan —founder of Parisar — who, along with the PMC, had organised this visit, speaks about its spillover effect.

What after Penalosa’s visit? Are you planning to further his vision in Pune?

The whole idea of the Penalosa visit was to expose Puneites to the possibility of a different traffic scenario — rather than focusing on widening roads and building flyovers. Since Penalosa has touched a chord in the hearts of people — who are feeling deprived of open spaces and whose children stand vulnerable to accidents — we decided not to confine his visit only to the officials. We aimed to start a thought process that may lead to a movement.

What was the reaction to his lectures?

People who have read about his philosophy have begun to question why such a model cannot be adopted here too, when it became a reality in an under-developed country! Officials have also developed a soft corner and have begun talking about mass transit systems along the Bogota pattern.

What is your action plan, since you spearheaded Penalosa’s visit?

We are planning to have sessions in different neighbourhoods where we will make presentations of the Bogota model. We are also planning to organise meetings with elected representatives which will hopefully throw up a nucleus of sensible corporators who begin to talk about sustainable transport systems instead of giving the traditional nod for more roads and flyovers.

It might just end up in all talk and no implementation. Comment.

True, that various reports for sustainable transport systems have gathered dust in the PMC but this was a live lecture which painted a picture of a city which exists. We have urged corporators to visit Bogota and see the picture for themselves. On our part, we will be keeping up the pressure on various fronts.


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