To ensure smooth flow of traffic through Khed Shivapur toll plaza during this long weekend and the coming week for commuters heading to Satara and Mahabaleshwar via this stretch, Pune district collector has asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to open up four more lanes at the toll plaza, use hand-held devices to issue toll receipts and do away with boom barriers so the minimum waiting time per vehicle at the toll plaza is brought down to less than three minutes.
The NHAI has been asked to deploy more manpower, especially for this and the coming week. “This is a long weekend and so we have made special provisions at the toll plaza to cut waiting time for commuters. Toll plaza staff will be approaching vehicles and collecting toll through hand-held devices, instead of vehicles having to wait to approach the toll booth. We have also discontinued the boom barriers. This will ease the traffic flow there,” said Pune collector Saurabh Rao on Friday. Rao said though the NHAI had expressed reservations to do away with the boom barriers, some other checks would be introduced.
On December 5 and 6, a two-day drive was held at Khed Shivapur toll plaza by the district administration to ensure smooth traffic and clear each vehicle in less than three minutes and to assess the traffic problem.
After the checks, NHAI had deployed additional staff at the toll plaza to ensure that each vehicle is cleared in 10-15 seconds.
The collector had later asked sub-divisional officer of Bhor to conduct random checks at the toll plaza till January 9 and submit reports. Reports submitted so far say lane rules are not followed, there are no separate lanes for local traffic and there is no CCTV footage backup. They also highlighted obstacles in some of the lanes. Commuters also complained about some of the lanes being closed on some days.
According to norms set by the Indian Road Congress, 240 vehicles should be cleared through a toll plaza within an hour. However, district officials found during checks that only 150-260 vehicles passed through Khed Shivapur toll plaza per hour.
The district administration has also pointed out the problems of vendors and construction of illegal shanties at the plaza creating a chaos. The administration has formed a committee to monitor the toll booth at Khed Shivapur on NH-4 after several complaints of long queues with vehicles being stranded for nearly 30-40 minutes were reported.
Dec 31: Liquor to be served till 5 am in city limits, 3 am in rural areas
For the New Year eve parties, it has been decided that restaurants, food joints, pubs and permit rooms in the city would be allowed to operate till 5 am, as against 3 am last year. Pune Collector Saurabh Rao said a meeting was held with the police where it was decided to extend the timings as per the state government’s directive. “For city limits, the deadline to serve alcohol will be 5 am, as against 3 am last year. In rural areas, the deadline, which was 1.30 am last year, has been extended till 3 am,” Rao said. He said adequate police would be deployed at these joints and there would be breath analysers to check for drunken driving.