Lack of parking bays on the 95-kilometre stretch of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway is causing several accidents and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) appears to be turning a blind eye by not giving any response to the infrastructural safety proposals.
“There is need for infrastructural advancements, which will be discussed in the meeting with MSRDC soon. Proposal for halting bays after every 10 kilometres has already been submitted,” said Dilip Bhujbal, superintendent, highway police. Chandmal Parmar, president, Rail and Road Committee, Maratha Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture (MCCIA) said that the MSRDC and IRB should look into the requirements.
“There are many flaws on the expressway, which should be rectified by MSRDC and IRB as they are charging toll. We have sent proposals for parking bays and truck terminals several times. Currently, the shoulder (fourth lane for parking) is not according to the norms,” Parmar said.
MSRDC officials were not available for comment on the issue. There are only four places at the Pune-Mumbai Expressway where drivers can halt. Apart from the halting points, drivers are not allowed to stop vehicles anywhere else. In case of technical issues, driver can stop at the fourth lane, which is known as ‘shoulder’. “Currently, the shoulder is very narrow and close to the road. Any misjudgement can cause fatal accidents. If a driver faces problems with a vehicle, then parking bay facilitation centre is necessary, which can provide a mechanic or other emergency assistance,” Bhujbal said.
The highway police patrol the expressway every 20 minutes and are working on reducing time and increasing frequency of patrolling. Besides this, the highway police have been conducting a special drive against heavy vehicles since May 10, which ends today. The special squad is checking heavy vehicles for defective tail lamps, reflectors and indicators, apart from other precautionary safety requisites.
Regional transport officer Arun Yevala said, “Many times, accidents occur due to vehicles breaking down or losing control because of some internal problem. We don’t have a system, which can check the condition of heavy vehicles on the spot. Even during passing of any commercial vehicle, we have to check the vehicle manually, which takes a long time. We have demanded that the government provide a computerised system for vehicle checking.”
Since 2005, the expressway has seen more than 10,000 accidents, which have claimed nearly 650 lives and left hundreds disabled and maimed. According to data furnished by the IRB, the total number of accidents on the expressway since April 15, 2005 till February 29 this year stands at 10,197. In 2011, a total of 172 accidents were reported in which 77 commuters died and 195 were seriously hurt.