Pune-Sangli-Pune by ST bus! Apr 16, 2022

A long day indeed. An enjoyable day doing things I haven’t done for a very long time. Pune to Sangli and back in state transport buses (ST for those familiar with Maharashtra), a day of speaking mostly Marathi, of surviving on vada pav and cutting chai.
I have never been to this stretch before. Miles on miles of sugarcane fields, some still standing green and many lying harvested. Cane juice being sold everywhere.
My colleague Nipesh and me were on a mission to visit a pathbreaking project in the Sangli Kupwad Miraj municipal area where slums have been mapped using google maps, surveyed with the help of slum volunteers, GIS maps created rich with info and then a slum free city plan created. The ultimate idea is to relocate and merge slums onto municipal lands in new, well designed four storey apartments of 270 square feet each. We visited two sites where construction was underway. The best part is that Pune-based NGO Shelter Associates has achieved this through untiring community and stakeholder engagement and managed to work with the government too, an uphill task indeed. More on our conversations with Pratima Joshi and her inspiring volunteers later. For now, as we ride back to Pune with the cool winds laden with rain blowing on our faces, we take in the green fields, the clean air and the local dialects and sights with delight. A satisfying day indeed.

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