Since 2011, the Satara police have written 41 letters to the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), almost begging to get structural changes made on the two S-shaped curves near Khambatki tunnel on the Pune-Satara patch of National Highway-4 (NH4), which witnesses at least 30 major accidents every year.
In February, 20 persons died and over 50 were injured in two separate accidents that took place within a span of 10 days on one of the two S-shaped curves, which starts just after the tunnel ends towards Pune.
As per the latest data available with the Satara police, at least 25 persons are killed and over 45 sustain severe injuries every year in the accidents on this patch.
“On these curves, there is a very dangerous combination of sharp turns and slope. It is a common knowledge that wherever there are curves, the road should have an inclination, also called banking, to control the vehicle’s centrifugal force. This patch has no banking, no protective walls, there are no signage boards warning the driver to lower the speed. It is clear that the errors by drivers are induced by these structural flaws,” says Rahul Makanikar, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Phaltan division).
He adds: “In the last three years, we have written 41 letters to the NHAI asking for these basic changes to be made. Nothing has been done.
After we checked all the legalities, we have now registered a criminal case against all those responsible for this situation. We will surely take this case to the logical conclusion.”
An officer with the Khandala police station says: “As per the duties of the project manager, a report on every action should be prepared and sent to the district collector and the local police. Nothing of this sort has ever been done.”
While no NHAI official could be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts, Rajesh Kaundal, project director (Pune) with the NHAI, had earlier told Newsline: “We will be writing to the higher authorities requesting the need to straighten up this curve. But that will require acquisition of additional land for construction of the road.”