The ‘deadly’ spread-breakers spread across Pune city and Pimpri-Chinchwad claimed yet another life. This time, a 20-year-old civil engineer fell off a PMPML bus after it bumped into an ‘abnormal-sized’ speed-breaker on the Pune-Mumbai highway at Phugewadi.
The latest death due to a dangerous speed-breaker is the tenth in the last five years, say civic activists. The accident occurred on June 20 when Deepika Shivraj Mankoni, a resident of Chinchwad, was heading for the Institute of Tool Design where she was doing a two-month course during her vacation.
Somewhere between Phugewadi and Dapodi, Deepika fell from the bus and suffered a head injury. She died on June 23. Her last rites were performed at her native village in Bidar district of Karnataka.
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After returning from Karnataka, Deepika’s uncle Sangmeshwar Sakolkar lodged a police complaint with Bhosari police on Monday. Police have arrested the bus driver for negligent driving.
“Passengers and passers-by who took Deepika to hospital told us that the bus jumped after hitting a speed-breaker in the Phugewadi-Dapodi stretch of the highway. They said that even if buses run slow, they jump due to the dangerously laid-out speed-breakers,” Sakolkar said.
Sakolkar said that Deepika had received distinctions throughout her educational career and was aiming to make it big in civil engineering.
He said that he travelled across the highway from Nigdi to Dapodi and found several bulky speed-breakers which are dangerous not only for bus passengers but two-wheeler riders too.
Stunned by Deepika’s death, Sakolkar said that the family has decided to take PMPML and PCMC officials head-on. “We seek justice for Deepika’s death. We want all speed-breakers to be removed and officials who are responsible for putting people’s lives in danger should be suspended,” he said.
Sakolkar said that he would personally hand over a letter to PCMC commissioner and PMPML CMD seeking Rs one crore compensation for Deepika’s death due to the negligence of officials.
“The compensation should be recovered from civic officials who failed to provide proper speed-breakers and transport officials who did not train drivers to handle speed-breakers,” Sakolkar said.
Supporting the demand, Jugal Rathi of PMP Pravasi Manch said the organisation would also fight for justice for Deepika’s family. “If officials are let off, more people would die. That’s why, this time, we would not let them go off the hook,” he said.
Rathi added that the figure of deaths and injuries due to abnormal speed-breakers has been growing in the city, but civic officials remain completely apathetic. A few months back, when The Indian Express had taken up the issue of speed-breakers with the then PCMC commissioner Rajiv Jadhav, he had said that the civic body had taken a policy decision to construct rumble strips instead of speed-breakers.
“In future, there would only be rumble strips and not speed-breakers,” Jadhav had said. However, except for a few places, nothing much had happened.
When PCMC Joint City Engineer Rajan Patil was contacted on Wednesday, he said that the speed-breakers were set up on the recommendations of IIT Powai. “But if accidents continue to happen, we would work on a model speed-breaker which would ensure a safe ride. This would be done only when there is dry spell,” he said.
However, when asked as to what the PCMC had been doing all this while. Patil fumbled for answers. Pimpri-Chinchwad Mayor Shakuntala Darade said that she would seek information from officials as to what went wrong before recommending action against them.
Former mayor Mangala Kadam, who is NCP’s House leader in PCMC, said that it is a serious issue and she would take it up in the general body. “The guilty will be punished,” she said.
PMPML chairman and managing director Abhishek Krishna promised tough action in the matter. “I will seek information from depot managers as to how they are monitoring the drivers. Besides, I will take up the issue of speed-breakers with civic officials,” he said.