At places where the highway is being expanded, lack of streetlights has reduced visibility, not allowing motorists to see cars coming from the other side
PEOPLE driving vehicles on the Sion-Panvel Highway are a worried lot. Every evening, the road plunges into darkness and visibility drops by several notches on portions where expansion work is under way. This is because in these places, there are no streetlights.
Dark Night: Police say there has been a 20 percent increase in accidents due to dark stretches on the highway. Pic/ Ravi Shrivastav
Citizens feel the drive becomes a dangerous one and the lack of light is an open invitation to miscreants and anti- social elements. Pravin Thakur, a Nerul resident who travels by the road every day, said, “ This is a major concern.It’s a very long stretch and we can’t see the vehicles coming from the opposite direction or if an animal is crossing the road.We can’t even stop the vehicle, because there may be thieves and robbers hiding in the cover of darkness.”
With the advent of winter, the problem is even more serious — the sun sets earlier. To add to the troubles, there is no proper signage or reflectors to guide motorists on these stretches. Commuters travelling from the city to Navi Mumbai and vice versa early in the evening find it risky to use this highway. The problem is not limited to the highway; at stretches of the Vashi and Kharghar flyovers, streetlights are completely non- functional.
The Sion- Panvel highway is about 25 km long, and is under the jurisdiction of the Public Works Department (PWD), which started the expansion work in May 2012. Police have intimated the PWD several times about the issue, but there hasn’t been any reply from the department.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Vijay Patil, deputy commissioner of police ( Traffic), Navi Mumbai, said, “ We have been writing letters to PWD since January 2013, asking them to repair the lights at these under- construction spots.We have even asked them to put up proper signage and reflectors, if they aren’t able to set up the streetlights, so that it would give directions to the driver on the highway.
However, there hasn’t been any action till now.”
Patil further informed, “ There has been a minimum 20 per cent increase in the rate of accidents on the highway due to lack of streetlights, and nonoperational streetlights, if any.”
PWD’s executive engineer Ramesh Agwane explained, “It is not possible, practically, to set up streetlights on places where lane expansion is in process, as the central verge ( narrow strip of land on which the light poles are erected) cannot be constructed unless work is complete. We are trying to finish construction as soon as possible.
Also, we are going to install reflectors and directional signage very soon for the safety of the commuters.”