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Thursday, October 21, 2021

Make coordinated efforts so that lives are not lost due to poor roads: HC to Maharashtra, Centre

The Mumbai-Nashik Expressway is a toll road on which commuters pay Rs 120 for one-way travel on the nearly 100-km stretch.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: September 24, 2021 6:50:36 pm
Large potholes on the Kharegaon-Toll Naka and Saket bridges on the Mumbai-Nashik highway results in traffic jam on Thursday.

The Bombay High Court Friday asked the Centre and Maharashtra government to be “serious” about the issue of potholes on the Mumbai-Nashik Expressway and other highways in Maharashtra and make coordinated efforts to ensure precious lives are not lost due to the poor condition of roads.

The Mumbai-Nashik Expressway is a toll road on which commuters pay Rs 120 for one-way travel on the nearly 100-km stretch.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish S Kulkarni Friday took cognizance of news reports on potholes on the Mumbai-Nashik highway, a part of the old Mumbai-Agra Highway.

Nashik Guardian Minister Chhagan Bhujbal had recently pulled up senior National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and PWD officials for the poor condition of the stretch. Bhujbal had warned officials of action if the highway is not repaired soon.

The Indian Express had on September 15 reported about the poor state of the Mumbai-Nashik Expressway and the Bhiwandi Bypass connecting Thane and the expressway.

The bench referred to news reports and said, “While a certain stretch of highway, which would otherwise take 15 minutes to travel on, it is taking much more time due to potholes. It is not a good situation. Government has to do something about it. Precious lives will be lost if this continues.”

Potholes result in queue of vehicles on Mumbai-Nashik highway towards Nashik, Bhiwandi and Shilphata.

The court also said that traffic congestion due to potholes also results in high fuel consumption as vehicles are stuck at one place for a long time, causing threat to the environment. It said that it becomes difficult for persons with various ailments to travel on such roads and to avail of medical aid in case of emergency.

“We were dealing with the same potholes issue the other day in a PIL pertaining to the Mumbai-Goa Highway and the situation isn’t good there either,” it added.

On September 20, while hearing a PIL raising concerns over the poor condition of the Mumbai-Goa Highway and delay in completion of its widening work, the HC had asked the state government to consider a state-wide policy with “concrete measures” to deal with the “recurring issue” of potholes on public roads and highways to avoid accidents and traffic jams suffered by “common citizens”.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state government submitted that the highways and roads, including Mumbai-Nashik Expressway, were also under various authorities, including NHAI of the Centre.

“There are some issues where all the agencies need to converge and coordinate. Please ask the government to be more serious about this,” the bench suggested.

The court said it will hear the response from Kumbhakoni and Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the Centre pertaining to steps taken by authorities on October 4.

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