A 14-year-old girl was seriously injured when a police van entered a BRTS lane at Ramwadi on Nagar Road and knocked her down.
This was the fifth accident on seven-km Yerawada-Wagholi BRTS route on Nagar Road in five days, triggering howls of protests from civic activists who demanded that the route be immediately put on hold.
The route was started on April 28.
The girl, identified as Akansha Dhanvij, was critically injured after she was hit by a speeding police car on BRTS lane on Wednesday morning. Police said when Akansha was crossing the road in front of Nagar Road ward office, she was hit by the speeding police car around 9.30 am. Akansha, who was on her way to meet her grandmother, was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she is now being treated in the Intensive Care Unit.
A case of accident was registered at the Yerawada police station later in the day.
Police said the vehicle was issued to the senior police inspector of Alankar police station and the police driver, Sandesh Waghmare, was on the way to pick him up from home. Police said that though the BRTS lane is reserved for buses, ambulances and police vehicles can use them in emergency situations. “Picking up a police inspector from home was certainly not an emergency. This case will be treated as any other accident case,” said an officer from Yerawada police station.
Senior inspector S A Patil of the police station said, “We are conducting a preliminary probe into the incident and an offence of rash driving and causing injuries due to negligence will be registered after it.”
Sensing the “seriousness” of the situation, Municipal Commissioner Kunal Kumar held an urgent meeting with PMPML staff, traffic police, civic officials and civic activists. The activists argued that they had warned PMC and PMPML to get their act together before starting the Nagar Road route, yet they went ahead with it.
Demanding that Nagar Road BRTS be put on hold, Qaneen Sukhrani of the Nagari Chetna Manchand and Prashant Inamdar of Pedestrians First said, “The accident-prone Nagar Road BRTS should be immediately put on hold until proper steps are taken to make it safe.”
However, the civic chief said that as of now, they were not suspending it but taking all necessary steps to put safety measures in place. “We are open about it… if required, we will also suspend it,” Kunal Kumar told this paper after the meeting.
Civic activists said the PMC should discourage all on-street parking on BRTS corridor’s side margins and footpaths. “There is an urgent need for strict continuous action against all illegal parking all along Nagar Road by radio cabs, heavy vehicles, jeeps illegally ferrying passengers, luxury coaches, vehicle dealers, garages, vendors, hawkers, six-seater and three-seater autos,” said Sukhrani. She said PMC should create footpaths where there are none to let commuters cross to the median from a safe place. “Sealing of all gaps and intersections that are not in design is needed to reduce accidents.”
Activists also said PMC and PMPML should improve facilities which are primitive at bus shelters such as cracked, either open or closed doors, and drinking water facilities.
The activists also called for installing basic facilities such as toilet and drinking water at the bus terminal, enhancing poor intensity of street lighting, installing of raised pedestrian crossing with down-lighters working on solar panels for assisting commuters to the median at night, ensuring visibility of signages and information boards especially at entry/exit of segregated BRT lanes, synchronising traffic signals properly so that current confusion is removed and removing dead signals to avoid confusion on part of motorists.