The death toll on what is the vaunted as the country’s first six-lane concrete, high-speed, access controlled tolled expressway is stacking up further and further every few days. While many have blamed the dividers, which are either missing or not high enough in various parts, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) has a different prognosis for what ails Mumbai-Pune Expressway, and a different cure. The agency intends to install Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers in vehicles to temper fast driving on the route, which it says is the crux of the problem.
A pilot project will be initiated next month, where the devices will be fitted into selected vehicles, and data related to traffic violations, including speeding, will be monitored at toll plazas. “Speeding is the root cause of accidents here. This system will put pressure on drivers to slow down. After the implementation of the pilot project, we will get an idea of its practicability. Along with senior representatives of MSRDC, highway police will be part of the exercise. If the system gives satisfactory results then we can make the implementation compulsory for all vehicles passing through the E-way,” said a senior MSRDC official.
Playing down state home minister RR Patil’s announcement regarding raising the height of dividers to 2.5 feet, the official said, “Demand for augmenting the median is just a political stunt to divert the attention of the people. After such accidents political parties and even highway police have made such insistences for more height and concrete structures. But this will not solve the problem. Currently vehicles are entering opposite lanes by breaking the median. If we have concrete dividers, automobiles will crash into them and bounce back into the same lane. So accidents will still happen.”
MSRDC’s board of directors has been continuously opposing the proposal for elevated dividers as they say the current ones are in accordance with the norms of Indian Road Congress (IRC). However, because of growing pressure and a number of mishaps on the e-way in recent days, the state government has issued a notification, ordering construction of concrete medians at accident-prone spots. MSRDC has identified a total of 10 such locations on the 98-km stretch. “Instead of building concrete medians throughout the highway, we can construct them on these problem areas,” said another MSRDC official.
Five people died and two others sustained severe injuries in yet another accident on the expressway around 8.30 am on Monday. The incident that occurred near Baur village, 7 km from Urse toll naka, was the third such mishap near that spot since December 23.
Figure it out
>> 38 accidents took place on the E-way in 2012 due to lane cutting or breaking the divider-in which 20 people died and 70 were injured
>> 4 mishaps in January, with 7 dead and five injured