Public works department minister Chhagan Bhujbal on Friday announced that the state and central governments have decided to consider the option of building a tunnel on the Mumbai-Goa highway near the Karnala Sanctuary, as the forest department has denied permission for four-laning of the road.
He added that widening of the highway will start with immediate effect, pending a final decision on the tunnel. He said that work on the 84-km stretch between Palaspe and Indapur was expected to start in the next 3-4 months.
Most of the work on the 475-km highway is between Indapur and Zarap (366 km) and is expected to start in a year after the tender procedure is completed.
“The central government has given its nod for the appointment of a consultant for the stretch. The feasibility report is expected in a month. It will be submitted to the central government for a final approval,” he said.
The minister told the state assembly that 2,657 accidents were recorded on the highway in the last two years, claiming 597 lives. “Nearly 1,772 persons were seriously injured in 706 accidents,” he said. “We have spent more than Rs40 crore in the past four years on maintenance and repairs.”
Bhujbal said that once the widening is completed, the number of accidents and the resultant death toll will come down drastically. “Most of the accidents are due to overtaking and dangerous curves,” he said.
The minister also said that the number of vehicles plying on the highway had also risen in the past few years. That was one of the reasons for the rise in the number of accidents. Nearly 1.85 lakh
vehicles ply on the highway per day.
The maximum speed limit as per the Indian Road Congress is 80km/hour, but most vehicles cross the limit.