Last week’s accident, in which a nine-year-old boy was killed by a speeding minibus, on the overbridge connecting Nashik Phata with Gurav Pimple has angered the residents of the area who have been complaining about the lack of safety measures on the stretch. Local people said they approached the civic administration several times with requests to implement safety measures on the overbridge, which often sees vehicles moving at a speed of 80 kmph to 100 kmph.
In the latest accident, Pratik Sawant, a Class III student studying at a civic school, was hit by a speeding minibus while trying to cross the road with his 22-year-old cousin, Suraj Chandanshive. The impact was such that Pratik’s head was severed from his body. “We were walking on the concrete platform of the BRTS route. Pratik was following us. I saw a minibus coming at a high speed from Bhosari side and entering the BRTS corridor, breaking rules. I was trying to signal at the bus driver, asking him to stop. But he did not pay heed. Out of fear, Pratik tried to cross the BRTS corridor. The speeding bus hit him so hard that his head was blown away quite a distance,’’ said Suraj.
Pratik was from Anantnagar in Gurav Pimple. Both parents of the child are differently-abled migrant labourers. “Since both of us are disabled and Pratik had no physical deformities, our entire existence rested on him. We had come all the way here from Beed to educate him so that he could carry the family’s burdens on his shoulders,” Pratik’s father Parmeshwar Sawant told The Indian Express. It is a hand-to-mouth existence for the family with the couple earning around Rs 8,000 a month working on construction sites. They pay Rs 5,000 as monthly rent for a one-room flat in Gurav Pimple. The couple has a daughter who studies in Class VII.
The accident spot is considered a dangerous stretch on the road by the residents of Nashik Phata and Kasarwadi areas. Local people said accidents were routine on the stretch. Around a month back, a woman was killed while crossing the road. “Vehicles come at a breakneck speed from Bhosari side as well as Gurav Pimple side. The Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and traffic policemen have done little to slow down over-speeding vehicles. Whatever measures have been taken are half-hearted,” said Rajesh Tope, a resident of the area. A visit to the spot revealed that the PCMC had put up rumbler strips, along with a signage warning vehicle drivers about the stretch. But they are placed so low that hardly any vehicle slows down.
Local residents had complained to the civic administration about a year back. But no action was taken. About two months ago, PCMC Chief Shravan Hardikar had directed civic officials to look into the complaints. But nothing came of it. On Saturday, Hardikar assured The Indian Express that he would look into the issue. He, however, said that the PCMC had decided to provide a monthly pension of Rs 2,000 to Pratik’s parents. Manav Kamble of the Manav Haqq Suraksha Samiti demanded that the PCMC gives a compensation of Rs 1 crore to the parents. “This is a clear-cut act of negligence. If the PCMC was told about the danger to public life and still it refused to act, then the PCMC should at least compensate the family.”
BJP MLA Laxman Jagtap, president of party’s Pimpri-Chinchwad unit, said it was a serious act of negligence. “I will speak to the civic chief and seek an explanation from him,” he said. Former Standing Committee Chairperson Seema Savale, who had promised to set up rumbler strips on the city roads, said she will take up the issue at the general body meetings. Local corporator Asha Shendge said they will convene a meeting with the civic chief and other officials and ask them to implement safety measures on all city roads. Sub inspector Namrata Davare of Bhosari police station said they were looking for CCTV footage to catch the driver of the speeding minibus. The vehicle had illegally entered the BRTS corridors, the police said.