The recent death of an 11-year-old boy in a road accident has put the civic administration in Pimpri-Chinchwad in the dock with locals blaming the alleged failure on part of the PCMC in filling up potholes in the area for the tragedy that took place in Shahunagar.
On Thursday, Atharva Aalane was headed to school with his mother Harshada on a two-wheeler when it ran into a pothole, causing the vehicle to lose its balance. Around the same time, the two-wheeler was hit by a car and the mother-son duo fell on the road. Atharva was run over by a truck and died on the spot.
Following the accident, the Bhosari MIDC police arrested the car driver and the truck driver. However, citizens and the boy’s family are also demanding action against the civic officials who “ignored” the state of the road for months.
“When we inquired with the local residents, we were told that the roads have been in a poor state for a few months now. The pothole did not come overnight. We want to know what action is being taken against officials who have been negligent,” said Gorkashnath Pokale, the uncle of the victim. “Had the pothole not been there, the two-wheeler would not have fallen off or been hit by a tailing vehicle,” he added.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) City Engineer Makrand Nikam said, “The accident happened on the ‘speed table’, which is an elevated part of the road used for movement of commuters from one side of the road to other. A part of the speed table had sunk. We do not exactly know when the road had given way. We are investigating the matter. In the meantime, we have repaired the tattered part of the road.”
Nikam said the civic body has filled up 4,000 potholes across the city so far. “We need to find out how this one was left out during our identification process or whether it surfaced recently,” he said.
Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Singh said it would be too early to pin the blame on anyone. “Yes, it is our responsibility to maintain the roads. But this year, after the extended monsoon, the Guardian Minister set a deadline of December 31 for filling up all the potholes…Let the probe get over so that we can take appropriate action in the matter,” he said.
Advocate Sachin Godambe said, “Unless stringent action is taken against officials responsible for maintaining roads, citizens are going to die like this.”
Activist Manav Kamble said, “PCMC commissioner should suspend a few officials and send out a strong signal that no amount of negligence would be tolerated.”
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) held a demonstration against PCMC on Saturday. NCP Pimpri-Chinchwad chief Ajit Gavahane said their agitation will continue until PCMC acts against negligent officials.