‘Samruddhi’ & us…

It was that time of the year in the pious month of Shravan our family decided to visit Shegaon, a town in Buldhana district, for the darshan of Shri Gajanan Maharaj and home district for the ‘Joshi’s’. Usually in Vidarbha, one does not prefer to drive down from Mumbai for 12 to 13 hours but one prefers for an overnight journey by the railway. But, this time the father and the mother wanted only both the sons (sans the bahu’s and grandchildren) to accompany them and take first hand experience of the newly constructed ‘Samruddhi’ highway which starts from Ghoti (a town near Nashik) and ends at Nagpur. To reach Shegaon, we had to leave the Samruddhi highway at Mehkar from where Shegaon is another 1.5 hours drive. The drive from Mumbai to Ghoti via the national highway was roughly about 3 hours, leaving us 350 kms from Ghoti to Mehkar on Samruddhi (another 4 Hours) and Mehkar-Shegaon 1.5 hours making a total of 8.5 to 10 hours with breaks. The journey began…

If I could describe the journey and experience of ours on ‘Samruddhi’ it would sum up in only one word, “Incredible”, but hang on, there are few suggestions too for the makers of this road just to make it perfect. First and foremost, absolute credit to this dream project of Maharashtra DCM Devendra Fadnavis and hard work of MSRDC officials, to name a few Radhyesham Mopalwar, Anil Gaikwad, many Collectors, MSRDC officials, then UD Minister now CM Eknath Shinde for bringing this experience to our state, Maharashtra!! Most of us have travelled abroad and driven on highways or been on the roads in many countries, right? Friends, it would be nothing if I say that this road (I am waiting for the Ghoti to Mumbai patch to get ready) is much better than most of the national highways/autobahns you must have driven in the world. The roads, the toll booths, the signages, the lighting of roads at nights, the whole experience is just beyond words to describe. One has to see it to believe it.

Now, coming to the short-comings of Samruddhi, the Government and authorities should not get disheartened with the number of cars and trucks that are currently using the road. Initially if you all recollect, there was a similar situation when then Government and authorities were criticised for making the Mumbai-Pune expressway for almost a year and initially the traffic on the expressway was way too low, but then it just picked up. People understood the importance of the expressway and today we have traffic jams even there.

On Samruddhi for Kms and kms you will be surprised there was not even a single car for me to overtake. After every 20 minutes I could see a truck or was lucky to see a car in 30 to 40 minutes on the 350 kms I drove (both coming and going). So traffic is low and there are many reasons for that. First and foremost it is a task to reach Ghoti (starting point of Samruddhi). On both the occasions we were lucky to escape the Bhiwandi traffic, the Igatpuri Ghat traffic snarls, which in-turn takes a few hours to clear on any given day. Secondly, people feel that instead of driving for a good 350 kms and putting oneself at risk, to reach anywhere in North Maharashtra and Vidarbha, even today people prefer the rail journey as the distance is way too much to drive and the internal roads are really in bad conditions. Thirdly, to reach anywhere in Vidarbha, it is anywhere about a 3 to 4 hours drive from Nagpur; so many people usually take a flight from Mumbai to Nagpur for an hour and reach their destination in a few hours from Nagpur. Fourth and the most important point is the absence of petrol pumps or service stations as they call them. There are only two such halts right at the beginning of the journey (both ways) leaving people having hybrid and electric cars in a fray. No doubt both the service stations are immaculately maintained even if it is not frequented by visitors. The house-keeping was at their job cleaning and keeping the place up to date even if it did not have any visitors. There are a couple of truck stations but it is not recommended for people travelling with families to visit there.

Most important and the sixth point is absence of median. I had tweeted this earlier in the year about the absence of green trees at the median. A median is the passage which divides two sides of the highway. This time the traffic was less but yet at night whenever any car passed from the opposite side with a high beam light I had to switch on to the high beam too. So the authorities should consider this work to be done first. Yes, the most important is steel fencing of the highway. Couple of places there were works going for the same but we were even encountered with dogs crossing the roads which could have been dangerous even for the animal and for us if we hadn’t slowed down. For kms and kms you can really enjoy your driving as there are no stiff turns. These are just a few pointers which I thought should be brought to light before Samruddhi becomes fully functional.

Hope these few pointers help the administration and the government to act upon and make it a success. This ‘Samruddhi’ highway and for me it was a much much more pleasant drive than the usual Mumbai-Pune highway, yes even you will agree once you test it. Hope this road brings ‘Samruddhi’ to our Vidarbha and Marathwada and more and more people start building their factories and businesses here bringing in prosperity to this region, which is actually the dream of DCM Fadnavis!

– Vikrant Hemant Joshi


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