After elderly man's 8-yr battle,PMC green-lights traffic signal

When taking on the administration, persistence and pluck are essential for success. Few know this better than PS Dandavte (76), who waged an eight-year-long war with the authorities just to get a traffic signal in his locality.

Fight for a cause: Dandavte is chairman of Ramkrishna Paramhans Nagar Seva Mandal, a social organisation   

His labours have finally borne fruit and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has set up a stop light at Paramhans Nagar Chowk of Kothrud. The area has witnessed quite a few accidents over the years.

How it began
It all started in 2000, when a speeding tourist bus coming from Chandani Chowk rammed Milind Gowande (30) at Paramhans Nagar Chowk one evening. The accident claimed Milind’s life and inspired Dandavte to seek a permanent solution to the traffic woes in the area.

A win finally: The stop light set up by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) at Paramhans Nagar Chowk of Kothrud. Pic/Ishan Ghosh

“The next day I wrote to PMC’s road department, asking the officials to immediately institute a few speed breakers. The civic body responded with alacrity and the structures came up soon enough,” reminisced Dandavte, who is chairman of Ramkrishna Paramhans Nagar Seva Mandal, a social organisation.

But problems remained. “The speed bumps were not built according to prescribed norms, and sometime later a 13-year-old boy lost his life at the same chowk while crossing the road. In a similar incident, Prabhakar Kulkarni, a senior citizen from our area, suffered severe injuries,” said Dandavte.

Then in 2005, PMC suddenly removed all the speed bumps in the area, acknowledging that as they were not built according to Indian Road Congress (IRC) norms, the High Court had ordered their immediate elimination.

“After this unexpected move by the civic body, we started a local citizens’ movement for a traffic signal. I have sent at least a dozen letters to the PMC commissioner, road department, officials of JNNURM - under which work on the road is done - city traffic department and also the police commissioner. The authorities tried to stonewall us on occasions, but I am satisfied that at long last, the much-needed signal has come up at the chowk,” Dandavte told MiD DAY.

Blame game
When contacted, Shrinivas Bonala, additional city engineer from PMC, pointed fingers at the JNNURM department that completed the work last week. When asked why it took so many years for a single traffic signal t become functional, he refused to comment.  MiD DAY put the question to JNNURM executive engineer Vijay Shinde. “The traffic police were not keen on setting up a signal at Paramhans Nagar Chowk, as that would have forced them to deploy a constable at the spot. 

So we tried other options where manpower would not be required, like constructing a raised pedestrian crossing.” When we cited the fatal accidents that had taken place at the chowk, he said, “Yes, the raised pedestrian crossing has not served the purpose of minimising accidents. That’s why after arranging several visits to the spot along with the traffic police, we have finally instituted a signal.”

“The traffic department was not against the signal. There is a stiff slope at the Parmahans Nagar Chowk. In such a situation, if somebody coming from Chandani Chowk breaks the signal, there could be a terrible accident. We had suggested PMC take this issue into consideration before giving approval to the signal,” DCP (traffic) Vishwas Pandhre said.

It is too late for us now. I remember that after the incident, many residents had hit the streetsin protest. At last, due to efforts of Dandavte uncle, the traffic signal has been set up at the chowk.
—Anjali Gowande, wife of Milind (who was killed in the accident in 2000)

It was a long-standing demand. I am happy that the signal has come up. Now it's much easier for us to cross the road.
—Sushma Karulkar, resident of Shikshaknagar society  

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