14,500 accidents, 1,400 deaths in 14 years: ‘Maharashtra govt turns deaf ear, agencies play blame game’

Findings of extensive study by accident victim’s kin throw light into how vulnerable the stretch is.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | Published: June 6, 2016 12:22 am
expressway accident, Mumbai Pune expressway, news, maharashtra government, maharashtra accidents, pune mumbai expressway accident, mumbai accident, pune accident, expressway accident, news, mumbai news, pune news, india news Damaged vehicles after the accident at Panvel on Sunday. PTI photo

OVER 14,500 accidents have taken place on the 94-kilometre stretch of the Pune-Mumbai Expressway between 2002 and 2016, which has claimed around 1,400 lives, says a study done on the vehicular traffic and accident-prone zones on the Expressway.

The extensive study done by Tanmay Pendse—who lost his brother Akshay Pendse, a Marathi film and theatre actor, and nephew Pratyush in an Expressway accident in 2012— has shown how apathy on part of the agencies and negligence of drivers have together made the ‘lifeline between the two metros’ a death trap.

Read | Mumbai-Pune Expressway accident: 17 dead, 43 injured as bus crashes into two cars

When the six-lane concrete expressway was completed between Mumbai and Pune in 2002, it brought down the travel time between the two cities by over 90 minutes. However, since its opening, it has not been free from controversies. Questions have been raised over the role of Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), which has ownership over the expressway and Ideal Road Builders (IRB), the company which has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain the road.

Share This Article
Related Article

In December 2012, Marathi actors Anand Abhyankar (50), Akshay Pendse (30) and Pendse’s son, Pratyush (2), were killed after the car they were in was hit a speeding heavy vehicle that dashed across the divider after the driver lost control over it on the Expressway near Baur. Pendse’s brother has since been fighting for the cause and has done an extensive independent research along with another researcher, Kaustubh Vartak .

According to Tanmay, “Over 14,500 accidents have taken place in which around 1,400 people have died on this stretch. Our study indicates that agencies that are part of the system have failed badly in doing their job. The onus is also on the drivers, who do not follow the rules. I have repeatedly met ministers, officers, political leaders but there has been almost no response.”

“Infrastructural lapses begin from absence of correct and legible signage boards on various stretches to lack of reflectors on the curves, turns and roadside rocks. These reflectors are essential when the air is foggy or there are heavy rains. There are no emergency response system (SOS) booths on the sides of the lanes.

Despite so many accidents, there is no full-time trauma care centre. The traffic regulation by Highway Police has also been poor mainly because there is no modern system of tracking. There is no facility for the broken down vehicles to park till they receive help. Owing to lack of service lanes, villagers on motorbikes are seen breaking fences to enter the Expressway, leading to accidents,” said Tanmay.

Tanmay added, “On the drivers’ part, overspeeding is a major concern. Hardly anyone abides by the speed limit which is 80 kilometres per hour. The vehicle’s condition is hardly checked and breakdowns are a concern. ” Both researchers have repeatedly met office bearers from both the present and past governments, senior political leaders but no action has been taken so far. “The blame game went on between IRB and MSRDC, as people continue to die on this stretch,” said Tanmay.

Reacting to this, a senior officer from the State Highway police said, “We have repeatedly written to the IRB and MSRDC asking them to install signage boards, reflectors, make structural changes at certain spots. However, no action was taken upon our requests.”

For all the latest Pune News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    Jun 6, 2016 at 1:22 am
    Change must begin with ourselves first. Why not drive at a lower speed, all the drivers. I know that higher the speed, lesser the control and greater the chance of accidents. So drivers must drive within the speed limit and yes, service roads must be created.
    1. Anand Ch
      Jun 6, 2016 at 1:12 am
      For Indian psyche, broad roads are not required. They just can't control themselves when canvas is wide. They are habituated to slow driving and congested roads. They just can't behave with responsibility when they are free.
      1. R
        Rajesh Mahadevan
        Jul 14, 2016 at 3:27 am
        99 percent indians will understand only the "stick language" ..... the balance 1 percent who drive safely and responsibly are considered s. This applies not only to speeding but also to littering, spitting on the road, drunken driving and several other day to day public activities. Such people are to be considered the "enemy of the state" since their actions, carried out knowingly, would ruin the life of other innocents but they don't care. If you charge a audi owner whose vehicle costs 50 lacs, rs. 200 as fine for speeding, he will not care. Best solution is to impound the vehicle for a week or the fine amount should be minimum fine should be rs. 10000 so that it hits were it hurts. Also why is the government afraid of stating "if you drink and drive it is equivalent to murder wherein the penalty is minimum 5 years non-bailable, in jail -- since it is a proven fact that the person who drinks is well aware that he is drinking and is well informed that he is not supposed to drink and drive, that if he has an accident he would possibly ruin the entire life of some other family" ... so it is equivalent to wanton murder. ........... root cause of all problems people do not fear the law because
        1. S
          Jun 6, 2016 at 2:09 am
          Its not about India vs Foreign - its about enforcing it so strictly that not a single defaulter can go without heavy penalties. Why speed cams can not be installed every 1.5 KM or 2 KM and take pics of speeding vehicles to fine them at the end of a stretch (say 5000 to 10000/- per speed limit cross) with automated billing at the toll booth? (No police bribe possible) lt;br/gt;Is it really that expensive to install ? is it more than compared to 1000 accidents every year?
          1. S
            Suresh Rao
            Jun 6, 2016 at 1:32 am
            Write a letter to PM
            1. Load More Comments