Pune vs Bangalore – 2

After the impromptu first post on “Pune vs Bangalore” subject last week, I got time last night to put together some more thoughts.

Pune feels like Bangalore of 5 years ago. It still has that small city feel. Drive from city railway station to the airport in 15-20 minutes to feel it. From growth and infrastructure perspectives, Pune has three advantages over Bangalore.

One, Pune has time to take in lessons from Bangalore’s moves and mistakes.

Two, IT companies are scattered in and around the city. This is unlike Bangalore where south (Electronics city) and east (ITPL, HAL area) are still the main magnates for commuter traffic. Pune is less likely to face the kind of planning and traffic mess Bangalore faces in south and eastern areas.

Three, Pune and Mumbai together can create advantages for each other. Two cities together make it a larger IT hub, which creates a bigger and local pool of jobs and talent. In terms of export figures, Pune and Mumbai together already beat Chennai and Hyderabad today.

Pune has a some positives in common with Bangalore. There are a lot of engineering companies in the area (automobile) that are big users of IT. There are plenty of engineering colleges in and around Pune to supply about 80000 engineers an year. And the weather, arguably not as good as Bangalore, is definitely better than Mumbai – less rains and humidity – and Chennai/Hyderabad – not as hot.

But it isn’t all a bed of roses. Last summer, the power situation was so bad a few IT companies couldn’t function for one or two days! This famous “comment” by some Microsoft guy when they were looking for a new center in India sums it up, “… one can’t run a software company on diesel gensets”!

Last year when it rained more than usual, I could not find a single 10-meter stretch of road without potholes! Roads just crumbled, I have never seen it that bad in Bangalore. It was just too shocking. Roads are choked in Bangalore, a few of them got flooded, but not all of them evaporated like it happened in Pune.Infrastructure projects seem slow. Flyovers on University Road have been under construction for more than an year now, and I am pretty sure that project will beat Bangalore’s Airport road flyover as the longest running of this kind. In spite of having the advantage of learning from Bangalore’s mistakes, I don’t hear of large comprehensive plans to upgrade city’s infrastructure.

The airport plans have been in discussion mode for more than 3 years now. A new one at Chakan or upgrade the existing choking one at Lohegaon itself, I am lost on what the plan is! At times you also hear this talk of using the upcoming Mumbai international airport for Pune as well. Frankly, I am confused, though impressed to see that badly needed upgrade work has begun at Lohegaon.

Another post, if there is more.

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