The drive to your favourite weekend destinations in Raigad or Goa will soon get faster and safer.
Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who also heads the public works department (PWD), said on Tuesday that the 475-km Mumbai-Goa stretch of National Highway (NH) 17 will soon be a four-lane road.
But this smooth drive will cost you. The estimated cost of Rs 3,000 crore will translate into toll for commuters.
Bhujbal said that his department will follow up with the Centre to ensure work begins within six months.
The 1.5-km stretch along the Karnala bird sanctuary could cause a delay because the Ministry of Environment and Forests has denied the state government permission to widen this part of the road.
A demand for widening this two-lane stretch has been pending for long.
It is the only road that connects Konkan with Mumbai and sees a heavy traffic of passenger and commercial vehicles daily.
“We have been pursuing the four-laning of this highway with the Centre and have received a positive response from Surface Transport Minister Kamal Nath,” said Bhujbal adding that this will be a tolled stretch.
Sharp twists and turns along the picturesque NH-17 have led to many accidents. Last year, this road saw 1,672 accidents, which killed 323 people and injured around 1,200.
Locals, including journalists from the Raigad-Konkan stretch, have been demanding a proactive role from the state in the matter.
A protest will be held near Karnala sanctuary on Wednesday for this.
“This is perhaps the only highway in Maharashtra that has not been widened. Others like the Mumbai-Ahmedabad and Mumbai-Bangalore and even roads connecting Pune to Solapur and Mumbai to Nashik are four-laned,” said S.M. Deshmukh, editor of local newspaper Krishiwal who is at the forefront of the protest. “The state government has ignored Konkan. It has been promising to four-lane this highway for two decades.”
Government officials said that work on the 84-km stretch between Panvel and Indapur in Raigad has received the Centre’s approval and will be constructed by the National Highways Authority of India.
The state has submitted the feasibility report for the stretch from Indapur to Zarap to the Centre for approval.