While the 701-km Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Expressway is yet to be opened for vehicular traffic, a 45-year-old man died and three others sustained injuries on Sunday when the car they were travelling in met with an accident on a stretch of the expressway near Jalna.
According to local residents, it was raining heavily when the accident took place. They said many motorists have been using the expressway as there is no security to guard the stretch.
The deceased has been identified as Baliram Khokle (45), a resident of Buldhana who along with two others. Chandrakant Sable (45) and Sunil Limbekar (43), were traveling in a car.
According to police, the accident took place around 5 pm on Sunday near Jalna city when the car in which the victims were traveling skidded and crashed into a ditch dug up in the middle of the expressway for construction of a divider. The impact of the crash was so strong that the car was completely crushed and Khokle, who was sitting next to the driver, sustained severe injuries. Two other passengers of the car, Sable and Limbekar, also sustained major injuries.
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The driver of the car, Yogesh Sangle (24), also sustained minor injuries in the accident.
All of them were rushed to a nearby hospital where Khokle was declared dead while the two passengers and the driver were admitted for treatment.
“The victims are residents of Mehkar in Buldhana. They were on the way back to their village from Aurangabad when the incident took place. While initially it was suspected that the accident took place as it was raining heavily, later it was revealed that the rear tyre of the car burst, resulting in the mishap. The deceased is said to be a hotelier. We will be recording statements of the three injured persons on Tuesday,” said a police officer.
The Chandanzira police in Jalna said they have registered a case of accidental death in the matter.
The Samruddhi Expressway, which will cover the 701-km distance between Mumbai and Nagpur, is touted to be the fastest expressway of the country. The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) is executing the construction work of the expressway at an estimated cost of Rs 55,000 crore.
Phase 1 of the project, a 201-km stretch between Nagpur and Shelu Bazar in Washim, was set to be thrown open for the public in May 2 this year. However, a wildlife overpass located 15 km from Nagpur, which was under construction on the road for facilitating the movement of wildlife on the stretch, developed cracks and was damaged. The MSRDC has now decided to build a completely new structure in its place, and this has delayed the project.
Started in January 2019, the entire project was expected to be completed by September 2022. However it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and slow pace of work on parts of the project. The MSRDC has now planned to open the expressway by June 2023 in a phase-wise manner.