To prevent accidents on the Mumbai-Pune expressway, an ‘intelligent traffic management system’ will be set up soon.
The system will include a command centre linked to CCTV network to monitor vehicle movement to track speeding, lane cutting and drink-driving.
There will also be a 100-member squad that will work in coordination with the command centre. The government is also considering air ambulance services for expressway accident victims.
Under attack for lack of safety measures on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway after an accident on Sunday killed 17 people, the state government has finally swung into action. In a meeting on Tuesday, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asked officials of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and transport department to take immediate steps to reduce the number of accidents on the expressway.
Now, the MSRDC will develop the ‘intelligent traffic monitoring system’ to ensure quick response times. There will be network of CCTV cameras along the expressway, and they will be connected to a command centre for real-time monitoring of the situation on the expressway.
The system will also have a tab on traffic rule offences like over-speeding, lane cutting and drink-driving. The MSRDC is also expected to procure speed guns. Because of lack of manpower, the state highway patrol police often fail to take action against the offenders. Now, the state government has decided to form a team of 100 Delta officers to take strict action against the offenders. These Delta officers, who will be accorded position of special police officers, will coordinate with highway police. Fadnavis directed the transport department and the highway police to make available enough manpower for effective implementation of the system.
Tanmay Pendse, brother of actor Akshay Pendse, who lost his life in a road accident on the expressway in 2013, said the new measures will help in bringing down the number of accidents. Pendse has been following the safety issue with the authorities.
“I am satisfied that most of the measures we have been suggesting are finally being considered by the government in a new system. The new measures will definitely help,” Pendse said. Fadnavis also directed MSRDC officials to start the trauma centre along the expressway and air ambulance service on public-private partnership mode soon. Earlier, both the plans failed to take off after private players found it financially not feasible.
MSRDC managing director Radheshyam Mopalwar said, “We are in discussion with Siddhivinayak Trust for operation of the trauma centre. We would also take a decision on the air ambulance in the next few days.”
Meanwhile, transport minister Diwakar Raote said that the state government has decided to install alcohol meters at the toll booths on the highways to check drink-driving. Two toll booths on the expressway will have such meters.
To ensure that the drivers of private passenger buses as well as trucks -- two vehicles that are found to be involved in accidents frequently are not working for more than 8 hours the transport department will ensure that a device be installed on the vehicle where the driver swipes his card and it records the time he starts and finishes work. He added that Fadnavis has agreed to change the tender rules to make in mandatory for new state highways to have CCTVs.
MSRDC minister Eknath Shinde said the toll operator is also responsible for safety on the expressway, and action will be taken against it if any lapse is found. Shinde said the repair works to prevent landslide in the ghat section is 90 per cent complete.