Accidents on the Pune-Solapur Highway are down after the conversion to four-lanes from the earlier two-lanes, say officials from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Pune office. Statistics reveal that the accident rate was down by half in 2012 on the stretch, which is part of the National Highway-9.
A total of 169 accidents were reported last year, while 237 were recorded in the preceding year, a drastic reduction of 50 per cent. The improvement in safety followed the conversion of the undivided two-lane into a four-lane divided carriageway. “A total of 237 accidents were recorded in 2011 between Pune and Sholapur, while 169 were reported in 2012. This is a 50 per cent drop in mishaps. As per my observations, 20 per cent of these accidents were due to drinking and driving,” said a highly placed source from NHAI, Pune office.
While many motorists feel safer using the highway what with the increase in lanes, others complained that the 104-km stretch is now also susceptible to speed limit violations. Chandmal Parmar, NHAI Committee member, said, “Tendency to drive rashly increases, as motorists may be inclined to drive at high speeds due to the available wide space. This may occur on the Solapur road too.”
Is it really safe?
Parmar said, “The danger of accidents still lurks on the Pune-Solapur Highway, even though the accident rate has gone down. When any two-lane road is increased to four, initially accidents are low. Moreover, the contractor tasked with increasing the lanes has not taken proper measures. In 2011, no persons were appointed to direct and control traffic on this stretch, hence the accidents surged.”
On Wednesday, in a ghastly accident, three persons of the same family died after the car they were travelling in toppled after its tyre burst near Indapur on the Pune-Solapur highway. Prima-facie, police said that there was a possibility that the tyre burst due to the outside temperature and since the driver was driving at a high speed, he lost control of the vehicle.
“The driver must have applied the brakes suddenly after he realised that the tyre had burst. The vehicle was moving at a high speed, and the tragedy might have occurred due to that,” said said D O Tavde, regional officer at the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
“Actually, the Indapur stretch where the mishap occurred is nicely constructed. We can only make a detailed comment after studying the police panchnama,” added Tavde
Residents of Manjri village disagree with NHAI. Yogesh Sonawane, a biker who uses this stretch frequently, said, “Pune-Solapur Highway was earlier known as a death trap and the legacy still continues due to the bad condition of the road at Manjri village. The entire area is riddled with potholes and vehicles have to criss-cross to avoid them. This is one of the reasons for accidents, as well as creating traffic jams.”
Vishwas Kachre, a fruit-growing farmer from Mohol near Solapur, who had to surrender 22-acres of land for the conversion purpose, however, agreed with NHAI. He said, “The road is much better than earlier. Now, I can reach Pune in just three hours, instead of the earlier six. Accidents takes place on this highway, but then again accidents occur anywhere.”