A day after the Mumbai-Goa highway (NH17) witnessed one of its worst accidents in recent years, which claimed 37 lives and left 15 others injured, highway police have decided to increase patrols during the coming summer vacations. They will also conduct checks on drivers.
The vacation period, from mid-April to early June, sees heavy traffic on NH17, which is more prone to accidents than other state highways owing to sharp turns. Of the 37 people who died on Tuesday, 16 were Mumbaiites, the police said.
The driver, Santaji Kirdat, 36, who was driving under the influence of alcohol, was on Wednesday booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and has been remanded in police custody till Friday.
“We will rope in the local police and increase patrolling in the vacations,” said Rashmi Karandikar, superintendent, state highway traffic police. “It is currently not in a good condition and there are no dividers at many places. The road should be widened to four lanes.” Only experienced drivers should drive on this highway, she warned.
The police said people should avoiding driving on this highway after dark. “The Mumbai-Goa highway passes through Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. The drive gets risky in Ratnagiri as there are very few straight stretches and it’s mostly sharp turns. Road accidents take place mostly at night,” said Nandkumar Thakur, additional superintendent of police, Ratnagiri.
Jitendra Gupta, transport expert and member of Citizen Transport Committee, said as there are not many alternative routes to go to Konkan and Goa, people inevitably use this highway. “The NH17 is full of narrow bottlenecks. You often find vehicles broken down on the highway, which leads to jams. Speeding and rash driving increase the vulnerability of those who go by this highway,” Gupta said.