This monsoon, driving on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway is going to be a harrowing experience, with one lane being closed for rockfall protection work. Adding to traffic woes on the 94-km expressway, the work, which began in January, will be completed post-monsoon.
“The work is expected to complete in another four months. One lane of the road will be kept closed to vehicles until the work is finished,” said a senior official from Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
Due to vertical rock cuts and weathering, the expressway is known to have rockfall incidents during monsoon. Two such incidents was witnessed near Adoshi Tunnel in 2015 — one in July during which three people were killed and another in August, when there were no casualties. The MSRDC took rockfall prevention measures in 2009 and also in 2016, when it had appointed Meccaferri Environmental solutions Pvt. Ltd to carry out detailed study of rockfall areas. The study was conducted with Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai. Following this, rockfall protection work was conducted in 2016 at the cost of Rs 49 crore, which included installation of high-tensile wire rope, steel grid and rockfall barriers to arrest the fall at Adoshi.
The phase II of the project, involving work at Bhatan, Adoshi, Amrutanjan and Khandala, was awarded to Pioneer Foundation Engineering Pvt. Ltd in January this year. With an expenditure of around Rs 65 crore, the work involves providing rockfall protection for a stretch of 1,700 metres. As part of the preventive measure, high-tensile steel wire is provided to arrest big boulders and anchors are grouted with cement. According to the official, there is less chance of rockfall this monsoon as the putting up rope netting is in its completion stage. “The contractors were given 18 months to complete the work, but they will finish it much before the deadline. Anyway, we keep one lane of the road shut during the monsoon due to rockfall incidents. But once the work is complete, we will no longer need to do it,” the official added.
As part of the pre-monsoon preventive measure, the MSRDC has carried out inspection of all the rockfall sensitive areas and removed all loose boulders. The toll contractor will also deploy Ghat Observation And Action Team near Dasturi Police Chowky from June 1 to watch out for rockfall incidents.
“The team will keep vigil. In case of any rockfall incident, it will be the first to reach the site. It will also ensure timely emergency and rescue measures such as taking the victims to nearby hospitals,” he said.