MUMBAI: The issue of landslide on Mumbai- Pune Expressway that killed two persons figured today in the Maharashtra Council where the Opposition demanded slapping of murder charge against the road maintenance agency while the Government said technology will be used to prevent such mishaps.
The Council Chairman supported the Opposition's stand that the maintenance agency, instead of the Government, should pay compensation to the victims in such cases.
Landslides have made life difficult for people travelling on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. The number of such incidents are increasing and taking lives of people. Why should murder charges not be invoked against IRB (the contractor which operates and maintains the 95-km stretch)? Congress's Sanjay Dutt asked.
Dangerous spots have been identified on the expressway (parts of which pass through ghats) long back, he said, and sought to know what the Government has done to mitigate the impact of landslides at such sites.
"Even at the trauma care centre at Lonavala (about 130 from Mumbai), only basic first aid care is available. Even in yesterday's case, the victims had to be taken 70 km away to Pune for treatment. A super speciality hospital that works 24X7 is required at Lonavala," Dutt said.
PWD Minister Eknath Shinde said he was in Navi Mumbai when he heard the news of landslide and immediately rushed to the spot and spent 7 hours there to ensure the injured were taken to a hospital and the traffic on the affected lanes was resumed at the earliest.
"Two persons died and 6 were injured in the incident. I have spoken to the Chief Minister and made him understand the gravity of the situation," Shinde said.
"I have called a meeting of experts and geologists from Pune who will guide us in using the most advanced technology to ensure there are no landslides in future not only on dangerous spots but on the entire expressway," he added.
The Minister said the Government and Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) are leaving no stone unturned to ensure such incidents do not recur.
Jayant Patil (PWP) said the Government should not pay the compensation to the kin of the deceased from its own pocket and instead ask the contractor to do so.
Echoing his stand, Chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar said if maintenance of the expressway is responsibility of the contractor, then it should be made to pay the compensation to the kin of the deceased.
The state government has announced a compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the kin of the deceased.