A NEW AIRPORT ON THE ANVIL GROUND REPORT – Narrow, risky roads lead to airport

Many Places Not Connected Directly To Any Highway
Pune: The approach roads to the new international airport site in Purandar shrink with each passing kilometre from Pune, making the 50km ride a time-consuming journey .Located about 15km ahead of Saswad, the site has access from two national highways, including Pune-Solapur and Pune-Satara, besides the PunePhaltan Road, a state highway .All these roads, however, pass through different ghat sections resulting in slowing down of vehicular movement.

Once you are off the bigger highways, the interior roads become narrow. At some stretches, the carriage ways are not wide enough to even accommodate two cars at a time. A TOI reporter who travelled on the highways and then on the approach roads up to the identified airport site found that the approach routes were not maintained properly and required major work to meet the high standards that are expected of an international airport. Incidentally, of the seven villages identified for the airport, not a single village is directly connected to any of the national or state highways.

A road from Uralikanchan (on Pune-Solapur highway) up to Waghapur is one such stretch where one cannot travel at more than 30kmph. The road is narrow, of poor standard and passes through small villages. It also passes through the Shindavane Ghat, which has difficult turns and steep gradients. Even regular users of this road say that passing through the ghat is not an easy task.

Viththal Shinde, who was driving his truck to reach Solapur highway had halted his vehicle at the top of the ghat to check the tyres. “The turns here are sharp just like the ghat roads that are built in Sahyadris to reach Konkan.There are similar challenges in Dive Ghat and at a ghat section at Kapurhol that connects the Pune-Saswad Road to Satara highway . The ghats will have to be restructured and widened if they are proposed to be used as an approach road to the international airport,“ Shinde said.

Even local residents in villages where the airport is proposed say that they either travel up to Saswad, Jejuri, Uralikanchan or Patas to hit the highway .

Suresh Jagtap was another commuter who was surprised when he learnt of the government decision on the new airport. “I am a local and have been travelling on these roads for years. Not a single village has direct connectivity to a big road or national highway . The area lacks infrastructure. How has the administration proposed such a big project in these villages? The administration will either have to propose new roads or it will have to widen the existing ones to make the approach to the airport site easier,“ Jagtap said.

The Pune-Saswad-Waghapur stretch, which has better connectivity comparatively , is utilized at present by most vehicles. But it also lacks basic infrastructure facilities. After taking a turn from Saswad, the road turns into a single-lane stretch up to the airport site.

Akshay Takawade, a college student from Rajewadi, said only bikes could travel easy on these roads. “Some roads have been constructed only in the last few years. How will cargo vehicles travel on these smaller roads? The government will have to acquire more land along the stretches to add more lanes,“ Takawade said.

Source : TOI