Navale Bridge: The ‘most dangerous patch of road’ in Pune

The Navale Bridge in Pune’s Narhe – a busy bridge on the Katraj Dehu Road bypass of the Mumbai-Bengaluru Highway – that witnessed a truck ramming into several vehicles Sunday night, was tagged as the ‘most dangerous patch of road’ in Pune in 2021, with a 500-metre stretch on the bridge reporting 30 accidents in which 17 persons died and 24 more were grievously injured.

Navale Bridge remained the most perilous patch among the list of 19 road stretches in Pune identified as accident black spots that together witnessed 200 accidents, 106 deaths, and 126 grievous injuries in 2021. While the traffic police say that efforts have been made to make commuting safer along these black spots – there is still a long way to go.

According to norms set by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and the Indian Road Congress, a road patch of 500 metres that witnessed five or more accidents with fatalities or grievous injuries in the last three years is referred to as a ‘black spot’. The District Level Road Safety Committee chaired by the district collector is the nodal authority that monitors the black spots and remedial measures taken by stakeholder agencies to reduce the risk factors.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) for Pune City, Vijaykumar Magar, said: “Identifying the black spots and even other accident-prone patches, is a very important measure towards making our road infrastructure safer. Once a black spot is identified – which is done based on the data of the last three years – concerted efforts are taken not just by local traffic police stations but also by other stakeholder agencies. Corrective changes can be made in the road infrastructure, additional strength can be deployed to prevent the errors that have caused accidents in the past. Many of the black spots identified at the end of 2021, have seen a considerable drop in the number of accidents this year after corrective measures were taken. But it is a work in progress for many other black spots…”

Navale Bridge in Narhe saw 30 accidents with 17 deaths and 24 serious injuries in 2021, the Mundhwa Railway bridge area saw 19 accidents, eight deaths and 11 serious injuries. Katraj Chowk saw 16 accidents, eight deaths and 10 serious injuries followed by Bhumkar Chowk which witnessed 15 accidents, nine deaths and 13 serious injuries.

DCP Magar further said, “Having said that, new black spots also get added to the list as some from the previous year’s list are dropped. It is a continuous process. Navale bridge, which saw Sunday night’s accident, is one such example. In comparison to the numbers from 2020 and 2021, the present year saw an almost 80 per cent drop in the number of accidents and fatalities along this black spot. Credit goes to the efforts taken by the local traffic division. We have to understand that every accident can result from a combination of reasons including road infrastructure and physical conditions at the time, human error, health of the driver and vehicle, enforcement and traffic management-related issues, among others.”

The data on black spots in Pune City for the year 2021, shows that these 19 locations reported a total of 200 serious accidents (mishaps resulting in deaths or grievous injuries) in which 106 people including 81 men and 25 women were killed and 126 persons sustained major injuries. The highest number of black spots for 2021 were from the Vimantal Traffic Division which had six black spots, primarily because it has jurisdiction over areas under two police stations. The Vimantal Traffic Division black spots were – Tata Guardroom Chowk (six accidents), Kharadi Bypass (13), Reliance Mart Chandannagar (five), 509 Chowk (seven), Vimannagar Chowk (six) and Kharadi Octroi Booth (seven). “The key issue with all these black spots was the mixing of heavy vehicle traffic entering and exiting the city and the light vehicle traffic from the city. After being demarcated as a black spot, several corrective measures like fixing hours for heavy vehicles, creating different lanes and deploying additional manpower have been taken. Road widening has been done in some places. This year, these spots have reported fewer accidents,” said Inspector Santosh Sonavane, in charge of the Vimantal Traffic Division.

The Warje Traffic Division had three black spots: Mai Mangeshkar Hospital Road (14), Mutha River Bridge (seven) and Dukkar Khind (nine). “The three black spots in the Warje area were on the Katraj Dehu Road bypass. The high number of accidents was caused by road conditions and the volume of traffic. With corrective measures being taken on this patch, the road infrastructure has improved and we, too, have been deploying additional strength. Mutha river bridge still remains an issue and we are pursuing the subject with the authorities concerned,” said Vishal Pawar, assistant inspector of the Warje Traffic Division.

Speaking about the Sangam Bridge Parking black spot, which saw eight accidents in 2021, senior inspector Jairam Paigude of Yerawada Traffic Division said: “This patch had poor lighting, the road divider was absent in addition to the large number of private passenger buses that came here for parking and boarding passengers. The issues of street lighting and the divider have been solved and the road width has also been increased. We have seen positive results as the number of accidents has drastically reduced this year.”

The 2021 data show 200 accidents, 106 deaths, and 126 grievous injuries. But the entire Pune City Police jurisdiction, which is spread over an area of 750 square kilometre, reported as many as 741 accidents in 2021 including those with fatalities, serious injuries, minor injuries, and no injuries. The 741 accidents reported 255 deaths, 457 grievous injuries, and 99 minor injuries.

The present year, however, provides a reason for concern to the police as the numbers show an uptick. From January 1, 2022, to November 20, 2022, Pune City has reported a total of 739 accidents in which 288 deaths, 427 serious injuries and 49 minor injuries have been reported. Officials said that the data on black spots for 2022 and other accident-prone patches are being compiled and remedial measures will be initiated soon.

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