The death of Anand Abhyankar and Akshay Pendse, both Marathi actors, and Pendse’s two-year-old son in an accident on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway has again raised the issue of safety on the high-speed highway at night. Nobody is ready to take responsibility for such incidents and the blame game on the issue of safety continues between officials from the Highway Police and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
Sunday’s late night accident occurred when a speeding tempo broke the barricade and rammed the car in which the two actors and their family were travelling. The tempo lost control and entered the Mumbai-side lane. According to the police the proportion of these types of accidents has been increased in last few months.
Officials of the Highway Police department said such accidents, in which vehicles jumped lanes, had increased in the last few months. Considering the rising number of such incidents, Additional Director General (DG) of the Highway Police had held a meeting with officials of the MSRDC and the Ideal Road Builders (IRB) on October 19. During the meeting, the Additional DG suggested increasing the height of the divider and supporting these with sandbags to reduce the impact of collision in case of accidents.
“After the tyres burst, the vehicle generally rams into the divider or enters the wrong lane. Due to over-speeding, at times heavy vehicles end up entering the wrong lane. After observing similar cases for a while, we suggested infrastructural changes to avoid vehicles entering wrong opposite lanes during accidents,” Dilip Bhujbal, SP for Highways, said.
He said MSRDC officials were reluctant to implement the infrastructural changes suggested by the highway police officials. “From our side, we are implementing all precautionary measures. We have installed 24 boards on the E-way and demanded 10 per cent space on hoardings installed atop overbridges to display safety messages. Apart from law and order, there is need for some modifications for current safety measures. Though we have been suggesting these from time to time, we are yet to receive a response from their (MSRDC) side,” Bhujbal said. MSRDC officials rubbished the claims made by the highway police officials that they were not responsive to the suggestions.
“First of all, we have not received any suggestion regarding putting sandbags for protection or increasing height of the dividers. Lanes of the E-way are according to Indian Road Congress (IRC) norms and there is no need for modification. Putting sandbags between the roads is impractical. Over-speeding is the major reason for these accident and no infrastructural change can prevent mishaps caused due over-speeding,” a senior MSRDC official said.
2012 E-way report
Lane-cutting and breaking through the divider has caused 38 accidents on the Expressway resulted in
20 deaths. Such accidents have left 70 injured.