Speedometer on vehicles plying on the Pune-Mumbai Expressway often touch the 140-160 kilometres per hour (kmph) mark, which is way beyond the speed limit of 80 kmph, a special drive conducted recently by the State Highway Police (SHP) has found. The police say they do not have modern equipment to regulate speed.
Between third week of March and the first week of April, Pune division of the SHP conducted a drive on the Khandala and Borgaon stretch of the Expressway. As per data from the police, every year 50 to 60 people die in over 170 accidents on the 94-km expressway connecting Pune and Mumbai.
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The Pune division of the SHP conducted the drive on half the stretch for over two weeks and has fined 368 people for speeding. The police say they could have fined a larger number of defaulters if they had better equipment.
The SHP has recently written a 13-page letter to the Ideal Road Builder (IRB) Infrastructure Ltd asking for modern equipment and changes that are urgently required to be made. The letter has also been sent to the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
A senior police officer with the SHP said, “We in India never had expressways until 20 years ago. We copied the concept partially from the countries in the developed world. We built a road, which has purpose, connectivity and speed limits like those in other countries but we did not put in place the safety infrastructure.”
He added, “Where are the high-speed cameras, modern speed guns to regulate speeding? Do we have modern systems to find out flaws in the road structure so that frequent checks can be carried out? And there are no modern emergency rescue and evacuation mechanisms to deal with mishaps or hazards. The government just makes promises every now and then but nothing happens. And the IRB hardly ever responds to our requests.”
During the recent drive, the police found that several vehicles crossed the 140 kmph mark while on the flat stretches. “Some even touched the 160 kmph mark. How are we supposed to do regulation if we do not have the equipment to do so,” the officer asked.
After a large number of accidents in which speeding vehicles had crossed the dividers and hit the vehicles from the opposite lane, the MSRDC has installed a different type of divider. But according to SHP officers, no divider exists on some of the patches, while at some spots they are in a bad condition.
Superintendent of Police (SHP, Pune) S G Sonavane said, “We are pursuing all these issues at the highest possible levels.”
MSRDC officials could not be contacted for a comment.