Since there has been no fresh landslide in the last one week, highway police have closed only one lane of the Eway, with vehicles being allowed on the other two lanes. Partial blockage was to be finished by August 10, but since work is still on, police have been asked to continue with the existing plan. S G Sonavane, superintendent of police (highway), told Mirror, “Due to the work going on near Khandala tunnel, the extreme left lane in the PuneMumbai direction has been blocked for traffic. As per the notification, this will continue for at least a month. At the moment, traffic jams have lessened on the E-way. Vehicular movement has slowed down though.“
According to the Highway police, who have been manning traffic at Khandala, even regular travellers have adjusted to the changed plan. “Those who travel regularly on the E-way know the diversions and cooperate with us. If we reopen the full E-way to traffic again and one more landslide occurs, traffic will have to be blocked all over again, creating confusion for commuters.“ The ever busy E-way has witnessed traffic disruptions from the last week of June, after a major landslide was reported near Khandala tunnel on June 22. Subsequently, MSRDC and Highway police diverted traffic to the Old Highway; once fallen boulders were removed, E-way traffic movement resumed. However, another deadly landslide on July 19 near the Adoshi tunnel, in which three lost their lives, caused the administration to call for a partial closure of the E-way, with vehicles diverted to the Old Pune-Mumbai Highway. At the time, the E-way witnessed massive traffic congestion, since several commuters remained unaware of the blockages.
Learning from this, MSRDC will not make any immediate changes in traffic plans at the moment.
A Awati, superintendent engineer of MSRDC, said, “Rocks are being drilled at Khandala tunnel right now.As this will go on for at least another month, we have decided to continue with the existing plan of diverting light vehicular traffic from Lonavala city till Khandala tunnel.“
He added, “Workers have been getting less time to work because the Eway is not fully blocked. If this were any other highway, we could have thought of blocking traffic for more time, for the workers’ convenience.But, since the route connects cities like Pune and Mumbai, we cannot implement such a plan, which is why work is dragging on.“
Source : Pune Mirror