Mumbai: Yet another accident on the Samruddhi Corridor claimed 12 lives and injured 23 others on Sunday – sparking safety concerns on the high-tech high-speed expressway of Maharashtra.
The deceased include three minors.
The Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway, which is formally known as Hindu Hrudaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Maharashtra Samruddhi Mahamarg, is a 701-km-long international class super highway being built at a total estimated cost of Rs 55,000 crore.
The accident – involving a mini bus and a container truck -took place near a tool both in the Vaijapur area of the Chhatrapati SambhajiNagar district, earlier known as Aurangabad, in the Marathwada region of the state.
The bus, carrying35 persons, was on its way from Buldhana in Vidarbha region to Nashik district in North Maharashtra.
The occupants include those who had been to pilgrimage at the famed Sailani Baba Dargah in Buldhana.
While 12 persons died in the incident, 23 injured have been injured.
Three of those injured are in a critical condition.
A rattled Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde ordered an investigation into the incident. “It is an unfortunate incident. Orders have also been given to take strict action against those found responsible for it, Shinde said.
The Regional Transport Office (RTO) at Chhatrapati SambhajiNagar has commenced an inquiry into the accident
Shinde also announced an ex-gratia of Rs five lakh to the next of kin of the deceased while the government would take care of the medical expenses of the injured persons.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed shock over the incident. “Pained by the loss of lives due to an accident in Chhatrapati SambhajiNagar district. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. I wish the injured a speedy recovery. An ex-gratia of Rs. 2 lakh from PMNRF would be given to the next of kin of each deceased. The injured would be given Rs. 50,000,” Modi posted on X microblogging platform.
NCP supremo Sharad Pawar said that as many as 262 serious accidents have been reported in the Samruddhi Corridor of which in 47 of them 101 persons lost their lives. “This raises questions about the security and safety of people,” the four-time former Chief Minister said and urged the government to take necessary steps.
Leader of the Opposition in Council Ambadas Danve was among the first to reach the side. “What was the capacity of the mini-bus, how many were on board,” he asked.
According to Danve, a senior Shiv Sena (UBT) leader, the mini-bus collided with the truck after an RTO team stopped the truck. “Vehicles should be checked by the RTO after they cross the interchange toll and before entering the expressway. A team of the RTO stopped the running truck on the expressway, therefore the minibus collided with the truck…The Samruddhi Corridor has become a business road. Police and RTO should stop vehicles on this expressway for a valid reason, which is not happening here. They should have checked the mini-bus which was overloaded,” he said.
Shiv Sena (UBT) Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said that passenger safety is being overlooked. “Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis only want to claim credit, they should also take the responsibility of deaths due to accidents on the expressway,” he said and wanted to know as the government should not be booked for culpable homicide.
Maharashtra Congress President Nana Patole said: “The accidents on the Samruddhi Corridor are serious and a matter of concern.”
The Phase-I of the project from Nagpur to Shirdi was inaugurated on 11 December, 2022 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Nagpur-Shirdi stretch is around 520 kms.
On 26 May, 2023, Shinde and Fadnavis inaugurated the Phase-II of the expressway from Shirdi to Igatpuri in Nashik district, a distance of around 80 kms.
With 600 kms complete, the focus would now be the connection between Igatpuri and Mumbai – a distance of 101 kms. In another few months, Phase-III would be ready.
(Published 15 October 2023, 09:42 IST)