As scores of Mumbaikars pack their bags to drive off to Goa via the Mumbai-Goa National Highway for the festival season, the highway police have sounded a warning. Given that the road has many narrow and rickety stretches, officers have cautioned motorists not to speed and to use their vehicles’ blinkers in fog.
The Mumbai-Goa highway passes through the Western Ghats, is littered with blind turns and has over 100 dangerous spots. “Driving below 80 kmph is crucial since, in the absence of dividers, the narrow road in the ghats is prone to collisions. Motorists should also not forget to rest after every hour of driving,” said additional director general of police (highways) Vijay Kamble. He pointed out that, a decade ago, a panel headed by PWD experts had “recommended an overhaul of major roads, including the Goa highway”. But so far, another officer said, little has happened.
S M Deshmukh, who has been campaigning for the widening of the Goa highway, said, “Of the total 470 km, only an 84-km patch between Palaspe and Indapur is being four-laned. And that too is expected to be ready by 2014. The fate of the remaining highway is unknown. Widening of the Mumbai-Pune and Pune-Satara highways reduced accidents by about 70%. Why then are the central and state governments going slow on the Goa highway?”
PWD officials cited lack of funds as the reason for the delay. Data compiled by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and state PWD shows that among the stretches of national highways that pass through Maharashtra, the Mumbai-Goa highway witnessed the most accidents and fatalities from 2006 to 2011. During the period, while 1,479 fatalities occurred on the Goa highway (476 km), the Dhule-Adilabad road (632 km) witnessed 1,471 deaths.
State officials said over 60,000 vehicles used the highway every day till four years ago. But since then, the figure has dipped, as many motorists prefer to travel to Sindhudurg and Goa via the Pune expressway and Satara highway. The detour is long and takes up an extra hour, “but is safer than the Goa route,” said Rani Shergil, a Mumbaikar who regularly visits Tarkarli beach.
According to a state official, several stretches of the Goa highway-particularly along the Kashedi ghat and Sangameshwar-are in poor condition. He noted that road elevation at curves is less than what is required. This leads to vehicles losing balance. “Also, there are spots where one cannot see vehicles coming from the other direction since the surface is uneven,” he added.
“Blind turns and village bikers make the road dangerous. Sukeli Ghat near Nagothane, Kashedi Ghat, Parshuram Ghat between Khed and Chiplun, Sangameshwar Road and the narrow road in Banda are risky stretches. We therefore avoid taking NH4,” said a regular traveller.
Courtesy : TOI