On August 25, 100 members of the Thane Road Commuters Forum, drove 17 km from the Ghodbunder Road to the Airoli bridge in the city with their headlights and taillights flickering brightly to protest against the deplorable plight of its roads.
As part of the ‘No Roads, No Vote’ campaign, several residents of Thane have pledged to boycott every election until the damaged roads in their localities are repaired.
According to the Mumbai Mirror, authorities have taken cognisance of these demands and began work to fix these roads and reducing traffic congestion across key segments of the city.
For example, last Thursday, there was no traffic congestion on the Kopri bridge at 8 pm, unlike earlier, when commuters would endure long hours of traffic. Meanwhile, crossing the Toll Naka in the city would usually take 45 minutes, but it now takes about 5 minutes.
On the following day, a party from the Thane Road Commuters Forum met with the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amit Kale to further discuss measures taken by the Thane police to eradicate their traffic woes.
“On Thursday, we diverted traffic on the Kopri bridge to a service road by putting up barriers at the entry points. I have also been in touch with cops in Navi Mumbai and Mumbai, telling them that we will take strict action against heavy vehicles entering Thane outside the permissible window of 12 pm to 4 pm,” DCP Kale told the Mumbai Mirror.
Heavy vehicles that enter city limits after 5 pm are slapped a hefty fine and in some cases, have also been booked under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
Work on repairing these roads is also proceeding, reportedly, in full swing. “As the nodal officer of the traffic conditions in Thane, I am also responsible for overseeing repair works. These activities have been fast-tracked, with our staff working between 10 pm and 5 am,” Kale told the publication.
Having said that, commuters aren’t convinced that the cops can keep this up over the long term. Others, meanwhile, have seen some improvement although the traffic post working hours is yet to witness any significant improvements. Most importantly, however, the Thane “No Road, No Vote” campaign has extended to other nearby areas like Navi Mumbai and Ambernath.
Late last week, Deepak Singh, a resident of Navi Mumbai who has filed a PIL against the local public works department and contractors for negligence in constructing the Sion-Panvel highway which has led to many deaths, led a citizens’ protest on Kopra bridge in Kharghar.
“We pay tolls and taxes for the maintenance of the roads, but [they are] definitely not used for this purpose. What is the use of participating in this democracy?” asked Singh, speaking to Mumbai Mirror. In the past ten months itself, 32 people have died on the 8 km stretch extending from Belapur to Vashi on the Sion-Panvel highway.
“Roads [are no longer] safe to either drive or walk if you consider the sheer number of accidents in this part of the city. Corporators have become contractors just to earn money, not bothering whether they end up killing people,” he added.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)