As if seven deaths at the busy Chandni Chowk junction in the past nine months were not enough, A Std XI student was run over by a speeding school bus at the ill-fated junction yesterday. Local corporators of Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) are blaming the civic body administration for the slow pace of the road-widening work that is leading to loss of innocent lives. Finally, as if woken from slumber, Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak has promised to widen the narrow road in 15 days.
The mishap took place at 7 am. Rajat Surendra Kulkarni (17), a Std XI student and resident of Anupam Park at Bavdhan, was fatally hit by a speeding school bus while he was on his bike. Another rider, Onkar Harishchandra Dudhal (19), was grievously injured. Kothrud police arrested bus driver Santosh Nalawade. Kulkarni was on his way to Abasaheb Garware College to sit for his final exams.
Shiv Sena corporators Pritviraj Sutar and Prashant Badhe and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) corporator Pushpa Kanojiya came down heavily on the civic administration for turning Chandani chowk into an accident trap. They all pushed for action to be taken against PMC officers responsible for the delay in the General Body meeting yesterday.
“The road connecting to Chandani chowk junction is narrow and widening work is on at a snail’s pace. Boulders obstructing the road have caused the mishap. The road has a major water pipeline leakage, which has led to soil making the road uneven,” said Kanojiya. “Speeding vehicles and no police has made the spot dangerous. Encroachments have not been removed properly. We had launched an agitation two months ago over the same issue. The PMC officials had assured that work would be completed in a few days. Still, nothing has happened,” Badhe said.
Replying to the allegations, PMC Commissioner Mahesh Pathak agreed that work was delayed and promised to complete it in 15 days. He said, “The junction has three roads coming from Katraj-Nigdi bypass, one service road and a deep slope to Paud Road. We are completing the short-term work like road- widening and removal of encroachments first. We are also making a storm water drainage line, as the road has a deep slope. Due to the odd geographical position, we can’t use a traffic signal.”
“Part of Chandni Chowk falls under the Bio-Diversity Park (BDP) reservation, road-widening had become problematic, as one landlord is not ready to accept the TDR for acquiring his land. This has further delayed the work.” According to sources, the work started a year ago and was supposed to be finished in six months.