Highway and Metro opened by Mr Modi are a disaster

nagpur highway

The Prime Minister and others glorifying the speed culture on our highways should read this and ponder. Hundreds of vehicles ran over a man on the highway near Miraj in Maharashtra , parts of his body were scattered all over. No driver cared to stop. This is speed culture for you.

The Nagpur-Shirdi stretch of the Samruddhi Mahamarg inaugurated by Mr Modi a day earlier has set a speed limit of 120 km which is high even by Western standards.

In Germany, where there is no speed limit on about 70% of motorways, the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) has calculated that setting the limit at 100 km/h (62 mph) would save 2.1 billion liters of gasoline and diesel each year, or 3.8% of fuel consumption in the transportation sector. In terms of Germany’s dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, energy expert Claudia Kemfert, an economist at the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), has estimated that a tempolimit would reduce Russian oil imports by 5 % and 7%.

Germany is economically far above India and yet it is resorting to economy measures while Indian leadership is behaving in a most irresponsible manner by its promoting of the motor car and highway dominance culture which takes a heavy toll of our foreign exchange.

Already the Samruddhi Mahamarg is proving to be a disaster. Every independent report points that way. Accidents have started occuring immediately, wild animals are being killed, there is poor infrastructure, no fuel stations for over 100 km stretches, no restrooms, no greenery. And all this with a heavy toll, a car journey between Nagpur and Mumbai would cost almost Rs 1200.

For a state transport bus it will cost Rs 3010 per trip, the ticket per seat will be Rs 1300 and there will be a non stop , night service between Nagpur and Shirdi which means intermediate cities will not get the benefit at all of this highway.

Most policies are elitist. The real needs of people are not considered, these are for connecting small villages, towns .

Car culture is being promoted without any safeguards for ordinary people, now even school children are at high risk. A drunk driver rammed a school bus with 40 students into an auto rickshaw in Navi Mumbai recently. In Nashik district five students were killed in a car crash.

The Pune Metro inaugurated by the Prime Minister amidst much fanfare in March earlier this year is an absolute disaster as this writer had predicted in the very beginning. I travelled by it two days ago, it was nearly empty, there were barely ten people in the entire train running over 5 km between Vanaz and Garware stations.

. Serious questions need to be asked about the cost benefit ratio. Thousands of crores of rupees could have been much better used in improving the bus service. And the waiting time between one Metro service and another is half an hour, can you believe it ? You have to wait for half an hour for the train and the fare is Rs 20. It would be foolish to take the Metro when you can easily take the bus at frequent intervals for Rs, 15.

The media all over has been silenced, one may say bought over so one never gets a true picture, one only gets PR public relations laudatory pieces. This is serious blot on media credibility.

In Mumbai the Metro construction work has inflicted heavy damage to the city destroying its gardens, open spaces. I was shocked to find two days ago that a two storey permanent structure has been built by the Metro right in the middle of the road which connects Mantralaya and the state BJP office. It is for air conditioning of the Metro station. The media is totally silent on this assault.

I went to the BJP office after a long time, it has changed a lot. Now there is a statue at the entrance of veteran Deendayal Upadhyaya. There is also an affirmation of the policy of Antyodaya but it now sounds ludicrous considering the actual state of affairs, the great injustice done to people at the bottom of the pyramid, far from Antyodaya.

Planning decisions are being taken without any consultation. The Metro line is proposed to be extended upto Navy Nagar at the farthest end of metropolis. This area falls mainly under the jurisdiction of the Navy and it has not yet given its sanction at all.

Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of a book on public transport and car dominance


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