To improve safety on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, notorious for a high number of accidents, the Maharashtra government has decided to set up a “delta force” of a hundred members to man the high-speed road and watch out for over-speeding and drunk-driving.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday held a meeting to review all safety measures planned for the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and to come up with ways to boost safety on the road, following a major mishap on Sunday that claimed 17 lives and left 43 injured.
“The delta force will be help the traffic police and regional transport offices to improve vigil on the expressway. They will be given the status of the police and will also have the rights to take action against persons found to be drunk-driving or over-speeding,” an official who attended the meeting with the chief minister said.
Besides, Fadnavis also instructed officials from the traffic police and highway police to figure out their man management in such a way that there was sufficient staff to monitor the Mumbai-Pune expressway all 365 days of the year.
The chief minister also decided to revive the intelligent highway monitoring system, a project that the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) had first taken up more than two years ago. The project involves covering the entire Mumbai-Pune expressway with surveillance cameras that will be linked to a control room, relaying information of any cases of over-speeding and lane-cutting. Staff at the control room will also be able to alert hospitals and ambulance machinery in case of any mishap.
The MSRDC had originally called for tenders for the project, estimated to cost Rs 63.8 crore, in 2014. The project, however, did not move forward with the government unsure about whether the MSRDC, the toll operator or the state government will bear the expenses.
“We will prepare a detailed project report outlining all the safety measures that were discussed at the meeting on a war-footing. That will give us an idea of the kind of investment that will have to be made. Come what may, this time, funds will not be an impediment in implementing any of these measures,” the official said.
Fadnavis also directed the opening of the first trauma care centre on the expressway at Ozharde near the Talegaon toll at the earliest. The trauma care centre, which will provide medical aid to accident victims within the golden hour, has been constructed nearly 1.5 years ago. However, authorities have been unable to start operations due to the lack of doctors and paramedical staff. The MSRDC is now in talks with the Siddhivinayak Trust to run the centre.
Besides, officials said, the government is also considering installing the imported Brifen wire rope safety system, which has been installed on the medians, at the sides of the expressway as well to arrest the speed of cars in case of a crash.