It is surprising that Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde and deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis embarked on the speed misadventure on the Samruddhi Mahamarg highway on December 4, so soon after the death in a road crash of Cyrus Mistry, former chairperson of Tata group.
Mr Fadnavis himself was at the wheel driving at a speed of some 120 km per hour far in excess of the normal permitted speed. He is said to have covered the distance of over 500 km from Nagpur to Shirdi, the pilgrimage town, in around four hours.
This raises several questions. First he was driving the luxury Mercedes car owned by Nagpur businessman and BJP leader Virendra Kukreja. A serious question of propriety. His superfast driving left behind police escort vehicles. Is this not a breach of security norms ?
The deputy chief minister looked triumphant, all smiles, perhaps he also wanted to send a subtle message that he was actually in the driver’s seat in the administration of the state.
He seemed to thoroughly enjoy the ride which is fine. But what is the reality for common people ? Urban road transport is becoming very congested, polluting, slow, miserable. The situation is so bad,Nauzer Bhruch a senior journalist, recently reported that he encountered such bad traffic jam in Mumbai that he abandoned his car and chose to take a local train.
The deputy c.m. is sending utterly wrong signals in this glorification of the culture of motor cars, speed and highways which is increasingly being questioned in the West, speeds are being reduced.
Besides, this expressway on which the rest ride was taken, seems an environmental disaster. Over a lakh trees were uprooted for the construction.What is worse, thee is no green vegetation in sight, no plants, no trees, it is a miserable, barren , boring stretch and extremely dangerous in the long run because such design, as experts have pointed out, induces stupor, sleepiness and is a recipe for disaster.
Contrast the Mumbi Pune expressway, it is so much greener and yet it is already a big killer with its faulty design coupled with reckless driving by motorists and truck drivers.
Mr Nitin Gadkari, a vigorous enthusiast for highway construction, himself has lamented that there is little greenery in our highways though he inaugurated the green highway project way back in 2015.
Professor Enda Duffy, in his book The Speed Handbook, explains how cars have transformed the human experience and perception towards speed. He argues that automobiles have made us averse to slow speeds, as traveling at high speeds became the new normal in As you ‘floor’ the pedal, there is a sudden spurt of adrenaline through your body, which has many effects: your blood pressure rises instantly, your heartbeat races, your body temperature rises, and you can feel a slight tingling in your limbs. These effects are seen in both males and females, but are decidedly more pronounced in males. This is why the obsession with speed is commonly associated with testosterone. This is also why men are generally considered to be hastier and less cautious behind the wheel.
There is another biological factor behind our speed obsession—MAO (Dopamine and Monoamine Oxidase). MAO is a regulator in the brain associated with dopamine (a reward chemical strongly related to pleasure-seeking behavior) receptors called dopamine-4. Therefore, if you have low levels of MAO, there is a good chance that you’re the kind of person who craves thrills and adventures. Engaging in these activities on a regular basis can lead to the formation of habits, which tend to make people risk their (and potentially others’) lives in order to experience the enigmatic thrill associated with top speeds. So, in a way, we’re culturally trained to pine for speed and aren’t really worried about the perils associated with this behavior. never forget that you are operating a 2-ton piece of metal that can inflict some serious damage to yourself if handled without care—not to mention endangering the lives of innocent people around you.
Besides as the philosopher Ivan Illich in his brilliant study of motoring and speed has demonstrated that all excess speed negatively affects others, robbing them of their time.
The chief minister and the deputy both have thoroughly wrong priorities, public transport is miserable in their respective cities of Thane and Nagpur.
They should see the public bus network in the southern states, they have fine bus stations. In contrast bus stations in Maharastra are in a miserable state. ST buses in the state are doing a far better job than private ones and they need serious financial support. Instead the government is squandering more than a lakh of rupees on the Metro network where the cost benefit ratio is extremely poor.
It is amazing that the media has written so gloatingly about the ministerial ride.
Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of a book on public transport