PUNE: The 34-km Dehu Road-Katraj bypass, linking the outskirts of Pune with Pimpri Chinchwad, has become unsafe for road users.
The traffic branch of the Pune police has identified as many as 20 accident-prone spots on this stretch which is a part of the Pune-Bangalore national highway. A detailed report on the causes of accidents has been drawn up and road-safety measures have been suggested for implementation by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which has constructed the road.
Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Vishwas Pandhare on Monday said at least 110 people have lost their lives on this stretch in the last three years. Besides 110 fatalities, a total of 47 accidents, resulting in serious injuries to people have occurred on the road. “This is the most unsafe stretch of road passing through Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal limits,” Pandhare said.
Traffic branch officials led by police inspector S G Bhambure had conducted a study of the road for nearly three months. It identified the accident-prone spots and causes of accidents. The traffic branch officials had invited NHAI officials to participate in the study. Traffic engineer Pratapsinh Bhosale and traffic policeman Deepak Varse helped them.
Pandhare said the report will be submitted to NHAI officials. “Although the traffic branch has identified the accident-prone spots, an independent road safety audit should be conducted. There should be a system put in place by the NHAI which will continuously monitor road safety measures,” he added.
Among the 110 fatalities, the highest number of deaths were those of two-wheeler riders, followed by pedestrians. The trend was replicated in the number of mishaps with serious injuries. The stretch has just four locations with safe pedestrian crossings.
Some common points identified as causes of accidents are absence of road signages, punctures of road median, absence of street lights, and absence of safe pedestrian crossings. At many places, gravel has been strewn on the left side of the road which makes two-wheeler riders use the right side of their lanes. It puts them in direct conflict with fast-moving vehicles and trucks that use the right side, resulting in accidents. Many locations have no demarcation of service roads and the main road, and medians are broken.
NHAI officials said a team of road safety consultants will conduct a road safety audit for three days. “They have been directed to coordinate with police officials to identify accident-prone locations and submit remedial measures,” an NHAI official said.
As recently as November 3, Subhash Rathod (50), a labourer was killed on the spot and another sustained severe injuries after the motorcycle they were riding crashed into a stationery truck near the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass in Pashan.
On February 12, 2012, two national-level badminton players from the city died in an accident near the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex at Balewadi. Another player, who was in the car, was critically injured. Siddhant Ghorpade and Saurabh Paralikar, both from Kothrud, were killed when their speeding car went off the road and crashed into a tree. Noted classical instrument maker Yusuf Mirajkar was among two persons, who died in an accident on Katraj-Dehu Road bypass on August 17, 2011.
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* Eleven years ago the Dehu Road-Katraj bypass was constructed as a four-lane highway to allow heavy vehicles, buses and other vehicles to avoid entering the city. The highway stretch is an important link from Mumbai to Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Belgaum, and Bangalore. Over the past decade, the bypass has become an integral part of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.
* Many commercial establishments, educational institutions, residential schemes have come up along both sides of the bypass. Vehicular and non-motorised traffic like pedestrians, and cyclists have invariably increased. The absence of service roads forces people to make use of the main road.
* The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has taken up widening of the highway stretch from four lanes to six lanes. Bridges across the river and subways are being built. Road-safety features have been hit because of the ongoing works. The issue was raised by road safety activists at a recent traffic advisory committee meeting organized by the police commissionerate.