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Startup India remains a non-starter

The Modi government might be speaking highly about the Startup India campaign, but the manner in which the information technology companies are planning to relocate from Hinjewadi Information Technology park in Pune to other destinations, only goes to show that the initiative has failed to achieve its objective. As per reports, 56 companies including six multinationals are planning to shift from Hinjewadi due to rising traffic congestion and poor infrastructure of the city.

Pune Mayor Mukta Tilak said, “Hinjewadi does not come under the jurisdiction of Pune Municipal Corporation. Massive traffic is witnessed on this highway. Pune Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (PMRDA) has lined up Metro line 3 project from Hinjewadi to Shivaji Nagar. We had planned to create a new transport hub which will enable to reduce traffic congestion and create more parking places.”

“PMRDA regulates some roads for integrated traffic control system. Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and PMRDA are planning to solve the traffic woes of the city which may take four to five years. It is necessary to address the problem of potholes,” she added.

The Startup India campaign which was launched in January 2016 is known as a project which was close to the heart of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Through this scheme, startups can claim tax-benefits, capital gains, tax exemption and get access to the government funding if they fulfil certain criteria. It was started by the government to promote entrepreneurship among youth and giving thrust to self-employment. Through this scheme, the government had planned to cut bureaucracy and improve India’s ranking in ease of doing business. Even though two years have passed since the launch of this initiative it has failed to meet the expectations of the startup firms.

Pramod Kute, Shiv Sena corporator said, “The government has failed to address the traffic problem. Companies and youths are moving out of the city. Due to the lack of political vision, everyone is suffering. Instead of the Startup India, the youth of the country will address the scheme as Shut up India.”

“It is disappointing to note that authorities are unable to develop infrastructure and commuters are stuck for two hours due to traffic. This problem can be solved but it requires proper planning. Preference should be given to improve infrastructure from Hinjewadi to Pune and PCMC as it is the professional and educational hub,” he added.

The Startup India scheme had received around 1368 applications by mid-December of 2017 but only 502 applications were accepted by the Department of Industry Policy and Promotion (DIPP). There has been a decline in the total amount of funding received by the Indian startups by 47.7 per cent. The government has not resolved the concern of domestic angel investors and venture capitalists pertaining to capital gains tax. Even though the scheme looks good on paper but the government has failed to implement it effectively.

BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap said, “The government is working towards addressing this problem. It will take six to eight months to construct a parallel road from Balewadi. This step will divert traffic and reduce congestion. We will not allow companies to relocate and roads will be constructed soon. We had constructed two to three parallel roads from Pimpri–Chinchwad. The situation will improve from next year.”

Pune is known as one of the major IT hubs of the nation but the manner in which companies are planning to relocate to other areas only highlights the poor infrastructure of the city. Potholes have surfaced over the roads leading to IT company parks located in the city. IITians had started an online petition to highlight about the potholed roads and traffic jams in the city. The government nonetheless have turned a blind eye towards it.

Sulakshana Dhar, NCP corporator said, “Hinjewadi does not come under PCMC Corporation and is a part of gram panchayat. There are plans to start metro services to Hinjewadi but it will take some time. Many companies are shutting down in the name of Startup India.”

“Small-scale businesses are affected and workers are becoming unemployed. Startup India exists on paper but it requires good implementation. Due to traffic snarls, people have to spend two to three hours to reach their destination. There are some delays in tendering process and ineffective use of funds,” she added.

Massive traffic jams have been witnessed on roads leading to Hinjewadi but no steps have been taken to resolve this issue. As a result of this, many IT professionals have to spend more than two hours to reach their offices. They have often complained about this issue but the administration has failed to address their concerns. Since Pune doesn’t have a good public transportation system, officegoers are facing inconvenience while travelling towards their workplaces. The frequency of the city’s bus services is poor and commuters have to wait for more than an hour to board them.

Hiring a cab and auto service is expensive as working professionals prefer to use two-wheelers to reach their destinations. The roads in the city are in a bad state and need urgent repairs. Often roads are dug up by the utility service providers as they fail to repair them, thereby, resulting in potholes. Already, NASSCOM is trying to promote IT investment in tier two and three cities. Therefore cities like Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Bhubaneswar, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram have emerged as new IT destinations in the country. Thus, if the administration fails to improve the infrastructure of Pune and address traffic congestion issues the city might lose its status as one of the major IT hubs of the country.


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