Mumbai-Pune Expressway traffic back as travel curbs end

Mumbai: Soon after the Maharashtra government lifted travel curbs in another unlock move last week, scrapping the system of an e-pass for inter-state and inter-district movement, there has been a surge in rush and vehicle count on the Mumbai Pune Expressway over the weekends. While the traffic was manageable over the weekend as vehicles going from Mumbai to Pune, their returning on Sunday was largely hit the traffic, causing a congestion of at least 30 minutes at toll nakas, said an official.

Having spent five months locked up in their homes, with no social or holiday outings, the citizens who fall in the non-essential services categories took to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway to either lodge themselves at a farmhouse in Pune or go halfway for a leisure weekend at Lonavala. Nevertheless, the traffic began building up since September 4, but was manageable, as people started moving towards Pune gradually, an official said.

The Highway State Police had deployed the interceptor vehicles on the NH4 over the weekend to ensure that people do not stop midway or get caught up in trouble. "Normally, when it's raining, many motorists stop midway on the Mumbai Pune Expressway to take pictures with the waterfall, which is dangerous considering the speed of the vehicles," said an inspector.

Aishwarya Joshi, 24, said, "I had been waiting for the curbs to be lifted and as soon as the orders were issued, we planned a road trip." Suddenly, there was a rush of people entering Lonavala, which caused panic among the local citizens amid the Novel Coronavirus pandemic outbreak.

There were long queues of small vehicles at the toll plazas. "While only 20-30 per cent of the vehicles entered Lonavala, the rest drove towards Pune. After last week's traffic scenario, we are better equipped and have deployed multiple teams along the ghat to manage the vehicular movement and avert traffic," a senior inspector of HSP said.

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