The nearly 2-km stretch of the Pune-Mumbai highway at Khadki,which was re-laid by the Pune Municipal Corporation after sustained campaigning by The Indian Express,remains largely pothole-free at a time when every other road in Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad is riddled with potholes.
Before it was given a complete makeover by PMC,this particular stretch at Khadki remained in tatters for over 10 years,claiming nearly 200 lives and maiming 150 citizens.
The stretch,where over 200 potholes surfaced every monsoon and made travelling a nightmare,was concretised at a cost of Rs 23 crore by the Pune Municipal Corporation and thrown open for traffic on May 29,2009. State Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi,who took the initiative to concretise the road during his tenure as PMC in 2008,expressed satisfaction that the road has maintained its quality since it was redone.
Amidst potholes on several city roads,the Khadki stretch gives some breathing space to travellers. It is difficult to find potholes on this road. On this same stretch,every year hundreds of potholes used to surface and remain for months together,while the authorities threw their hands up, said Pandurang Garsund,founder-president of Khadki Citizens Forum.
A survey of the road shows that apart from the area near the railway crossing just before where the concretisation ends,the road hardly has any potholes.
However,near the railway crossing,the surface has a few of potholes. Pune Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak said,Concretisation of the road seems to be the only solution to end the pothole menace… And concretisation seems to have worked to telling effect at Khadki.
When The Indian Express took up the issue of the pathetic condition of the Khadki highway stretch in 2008,which was only two days after he assumed charge,Pardeshi wasted no time in stating that PMC will have no problem in renovating the stretch for the sake of the citizens. In fact,before PMC actually took over the stretch from the Khadki Cantonment Board,the civic body had also repaired the potholes that had surfaced.
For years,the road was with the Public Works Department of State Government. Other than filling up the potholes,PWD could do little,citing shortage of funds. Though the stretch of the highway passed through the jurisdiction of the Khadki Cantonment Board,it had refused to repair the stretch unless it was officially handed over to it.
The then MLA Chandrakant Chhajed staged a fast and forced the state government to hand over the road to KCB from PWD. But days after taking over the reins of the road stretch,the KCB developed cold feet. The KCB said it was not in a position to redo the road as it required crores of rupees.
Meanwhile,potholes continued to torment travellers,with authorities remaining mere spectators. Even media reports had little effect on them.
It was then that The Indian Express took up the cause with Pardeshi,who had just taken over as the PMC commissioner. Pardeshi promised that PMC would take over the road from KCB,following which he concretised it thereby giving an effective solution to the menace of potholes.
However,what has not gone down well with the citizens is the fact that KCB was still collecting road toll from commercial vehicles. If it has not made the road,why is the KCB collecting road toll from citizens? asked Domnic Lobo,former vice-president of KCB.