8 more police posts needed on Expressway

Running short of even the bare minimum infrastructure, the State Highway Police (SHP) have expressed the urgent need of at least eight police chowkies on the accident-prone Pune-Mumbai Expressway to effectively regulate traffic on the 94-km stretch.

Even the State Highway Police SP, who looks after traffic in 12 districts, operates from a makeshift structure.

The highway has been witnessing accidents and fatalities at regular intervals.

SHP officers said they need at least eight highway police chowkies along the Expressway, and a proposal for four is already pending with the state government.

"And police chowkies do not just mean buildings. We need dedicated staff and communication facilities like wireless sets and phones, as quick response is key to policing on highways. We are managing with just four chowkies located along the old Pune-Mumbai Highway."

The highway control room and the office of the SP, who looks after highway traffic in 12 districts in Western Maharashtra and the Expressway, are housed in a temporary tin structure on the premises of the office of assistant commissioner of police Khadki, who functions from a much bigger premises.

"For efficient functioning, we require the minimum infrastructure. As per a proposal in 2005, one acre land was allotted to house the office of the SP, DySP and a traffic training and research institute and control room. A detailed proposal had been sent to the state government three years ago but there had been no action on it as of now," said a senior SHP officer.

State Highway Police SP Dilip Bhujbal said a detailed proposal on the required infrastructure has been submitted to the state government.

In spite of several attempts to contact them, officers of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) could not be reached for their response.

Another senior SHP officer said, "Every time an accident is reported on the Expressway, changes are talked about. We believe accidents can definitely be brought down if basic policing is improved. We must keep in mind basic policing also involves continuous feedback to other bodies that look after the highway so that there are positive changes after every mistake."

The officer added, "In 2012, as many as 108 people lost their lives in 475 accidents, and 365 persons were injured. The figures show that the government needs to prioritize this work."

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