No cash for Mumbai-Pune Expressway safety: MSRDC

Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, which needs Rs 90 crore for highway surveillance and safety systems on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, is now planning to tap companies for the funds

Motorists using the Mumbai-Pune Expressway will have to wait longer for a high-tech CCTV surveillance system to be put in place to make the arterial route safer for motorists.

Also Read: 6 killed in tempo accident on Mumbai-Pune Expressway

Among a host of other safety systems, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway needs a command and control centre to help prevent accidents. File pic
Among a host of other safety systems, the Mumbai-Pune Expressway needs a command and control centre to help prevent accidents. File pic

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which had plans to spend over Rs 90 crore on highway surveillance and safety systems, seems to be starved for funds. It now has plans to make companies dip into their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for the same.

Pune-based independent researchers Tanmay Pendse and Kaustub Vartak have completed a survey along the entire stretch of the Expressway. After the survey, they had met MSRDC chairman Eknath Shinde and other senior officials and submitted their proposal for highway surveillance. Since then, they have been continuously following up with the authorities.

Read Story: 2 killed as 7 vehicles crash into each other

A senior MSRDC official said, “It is true that independent researchers Pendse and Vartak had given us a presentation on the things that need to be installed on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway for the safety of motorists.
But the project requires huge amount of funds; we are planning to take help from corporates as it would be helpful in implementing the project.”

A few weeks back, Pendse had also met a senior MSRDC official in-charge of the Expressway to ascertain the status of their proposal. They were told that there are plans to take help from CSR funds of companies as MSRDC does not have the resources and the amount needed for the project is too high.

Pendse told mid-day, “When we had earlier given the presentation for Expressway surveillance through high-tech camera installation to the earlier Managing Director, he was very much in favour of it. The minister was also concerned about the safety of motorists using the Expressway. A few weeks back, we had a meeting with an MSRDC officer when we were told that there is some funding issue because of which the authorities are planning to take help of CSR funds.”

MSRDC Engineer
R Javanjal said, “We had a meeting with Pendse, but I cannot say anything as the charge of the project has been handed over to another engineer.”

Also Read: Seven killed in Mumbai-Pune Expressway accident

The study started in January 2013 and was completed in 2014. The report was prepared by Pendse and Vartak. They had written several letters to the earlier government for an appointment to submit the report, but were unable to do so.

On February 6, 2015, the duo had met MSRDC chairman Eknath Shinde and submitted the proposal to the government. They had also met Yuva Sena Chief Aaditya Thackeray and Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray.
Pendse is the brother of late Marathi actor Akshay Pendse who died in an accident on the Expressway.

For a safer e-way
Pendse and Vartak had the following suggestions to make in the proposal handed over to MSRDC:

>> Cameras in tunnels

>> Smart analytics to detect speeding, speed drop, lane cutting, stopped vehicles, wrong-way drivers, traffic congestion, under speed, two-wheeler detection, smoke in tunnel, pedestrians, fallen objects, landslide detection, automatic number recognition system & tracing (in sync with the RTO database).

>> Automatic e-challan generation for violators

>> Mobile cameras on vans for onsite support

>> Digital display system at every 15 km for public information/instructions to motorists/emergency messaging

>> SOS alarm at both sides of the Expressway

>> Highway FM for instruction to commuters

>> All these systems will be integrated and operated at the command and control centre which will be set up at a central location

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