TRAFFIC CHAOS – Dust blinds and chokes on road to Undri

Day or night travel via Katraj-Kondhwa-Mantarwadi bypass to Undri or vice versa is a harrowing experience. Poor roads in these parts of the city give rise to clouds of dust that block clear vision even at two feet and choke breathing.

Local residents blamed the pathetic condition of the bypass for the dust pollution.Traffic congestion has made their lives miserable and impacted health too. But they have little choice because the bypass connects them to Khadi machine chowk, Kondhwa Budruk, Pisoli, Wadachiwadi, Saswad and other fringe areas.

Potholes, concreting of lanes and bylanes, digging of roads for laying cables, narrow roads and plying of heavy vehicles round-the-clock have created severe congestion at Undri Chowk around 11km from the heart of the city .

Undri village, spread over 3.5km, has a population of over 25,000. It comes under the gram panchayat. Though PMC had taken over the village in 1997 for overall development, it was de-merged in 2002 following objections from the villagers.

Lack of proper infrastructure in Undri, a fast-developing suburb, has posed a new challenge for the gram panchayat and police for maintaining traffic discipline.

Infrastructural development in this fringe area has been poor. There is little scope for widening roads as a large number of residential apartments have come up or are being built. Residents have taken up the challenge to man the traffic because police presence is negligible.

Undri village sarpanch Shweta Ghule said, “If congestion is to be eased, narrow roads have to be widened up to 20 ft. The second option is to convert a 500m stretch between Hanuman temple and Mahadev temple into a one-way . Motorists face difficulties in taking a turn from Hanuman temple and vehicles coming from the other side can take a U-turn from Mahadev temple to NIBM Road, Hadapsar and Mohammadwadi. Vehicles coming from Pisoli and Wadachiwadi can travel straight to Khadi machine chowk in Kondhwa Budruk.“

She suggested that Pune Metropolitian Regional Development Authority (PMRDA) should acquire land around Mahadev temple to undertake widening of the road up to 60ft.Local residents have handed over a memorandum to PWD minister Chandrakant Patil for introducing a one-way when he had visited Undri to inaugurate the concreting work of roads from Khadi machine chowk to Pisoli and Mantarwadi, a few months ago. However, not much has moved on the ground even though work has started in Handewadi which is under the PMC limits.

“All roads from the fringe areas connect to Undri chowk.Roads come under PWD, but the department has been neglecting repairs. We have a budget of Rs 1.5 crore and we have been undertaking concreting of lanes and bylanes in phases.We want the village to be merged into PMC limits for providing better facilities like water, electricity and roads,“ Ghule added.

Resident Pravin Abnave said the stretch between Khadi machine chowk to Mantarwadi and Undri is bumpy because there are large potholes in which vehicles often get stuck.“Dust pollution is so high that one cannot see the road ahead.The place has become prone to accidents and there is a lot of risk involved if one is passing via this stretch. We have time and again covered potholes with murum to avoid accidents. The digging of roads for laying cables has further aggravated the situation. We have protested to draw attention to resurface the road, but in vain.“

Another resident Dilip Lokhande said, “We man traffic on Undri road because police men are few.Heavy vehicles face difficulties in negotiating potholes, taking a turn or if they stop for a document check. It creates congestion.Residents will get some respite if the narrow road is widened, illegal encroachments and unauthorized hawkers are evicted. Congestion will also ease if motorists have civic sense and traffic police act against violators if they are found creating a nuisance.“

Villager Sachin Ghule said, “We have launched a series of protests for repairing roads.The bypass was resurfaced in 2012. We don’t have a citizens’ forum to air our grievances and depend on government of ficials. The situation has com pelled us to file a public inter est litigation in the high court for improving infrastructure or the situation will worsen.“

Heavy vehicles ply close be hind each other and the instal lation of speed breakers in lanes, bylanes near Hill Green School slows down traffic while the construction of a road bet ween Kadnagar and Undri chowk leads to congestion, stu dent Trupti Thakur said.

Businessman Adil Ali Khan said travelling to Undri has becomes problematic in the last two years because par king of vehicles along the ro ads deters others from moving ahead. “If violators are told to maintain discipline, they pick up fights. Two-wheelers are driven at high speeds on NIBM-Undri Road. Develop ment has crossed the limits he re. There are single-lane roads and if the situation is not hand led now, it will spiral out of control. There is huge pressure of population and vehicles at Undri,“ he added.

Businessman Laxman Bandal said Mantarwadi bypass can sustain heavy vehicles up to 20 to 25 tonnes. “The bypass often has vehicles carrying 100 tonnes of weight. Because of a bad road, vehicles have punctured tyres and the situation in the monsoon is dangerous,“ he added.

The hugely residential area has shortage of water.“The prices of residential apartments are high because builders have purchased huge tracts of land. There are no slums and people have made investments in properties here. There are no complaints of garbage“ Bandal said.

Another businessman Amit Shah said the slope between NIBM Road and Undri should be levelled because heavy vehicles passing via Palace Orchard, Corinthian Club and The Bishop’s School face a tough time ascending and descending it.

Source : TOI