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Old 23rd November 2020, 10:30   #1
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Default The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

The Golden Quadrilateral project got a lot of flak from citizens as we dawned into the new millenium. Massive roadworks dotted dual lane undivided carriageways connecting major metros of Mumbai - Bangalore - Chennai - Kolkata - Delhi. When the road was eventually ready, it changed the way we travel. Highspeed divided 4-lane highways were the roads to have. Having experienced the paradigm shift from undivided highways commutters experienced faster average speeds, safer roads and saved everyone the massive fuel and repair bills. Commercial cargo movement had benefited as well.

The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway-bangaloreentry.jpg

A big section of this 4 lane highway falls in Maharashtra and connects Bombay to Chennai via Bangalore. While Bombay to Pune is connected via a 6 lane restricted access expressway, as you exit the freeway, you land in a world of a nightmare. It is not uncommon for residents of Maharashtra to experience a massive difference in the quality of road surface and surroundings. For example, drive outside Kolhapur and cross Kagal to enter Karnataka.


A picture of the highway from 2007. It continues to be like this. Only the trees have grown taller:

The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway-2007.jpg

It is a world of a difference. Things that make this noticeable distinctly is:
  • Clear marked roads with lane markers.
  • Continuous service roads dotting either sides
  • ZERO villages enroute. Everything is bypassed.
  • Flat surface through and through.
  • Crossings are well marked and clearly visible.
  • Traffic is thin and unsafe traffic non-existent. Like tractors, bullock carts, etc.
  • A majority section is undergoing an upgrade to 6 lanes.

A randomly taken picture last week from Satara - Pune section:

The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway-mh.jpg

Compare that to Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur section of the NH4 / NH48
  • The highway literally passes through the cities. Except Kolhapur, all three cities are pretty much on the highway.
  • Road surface is the worst one would ever experience. More on that later.
  • A significant section of the relaid surface misses road markers.
  • Crossings are at surprising locations and cause a lot of accidents.
  • Traffic is thick as a lot of industries are on this section.
  • Very few services roads exist in shambles. Most smaller traffic jumps onto the highway.
  • Toll booths have serpentine queues and traffic indisciplined. No one follows a queue.
  • The route is dotted with sugarcane laden tractors and bullock carts that make commuting a nightmare during the harvesting season.
  • Most of the bridges in this section have uneven breaks and practically throw you up and down if you follow the speed limits.

Last edited by moralfibre : 23rd November 2020 at 11:23.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 10:30   #2
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Pune, Satara and Kolhapur are important cities from Maharashtra's economy perspective. Historically these cities formed the seat of power for the Maratha kingdom. Eventually, many a industries have set base here and employs a lot of people. Naturally, the population saw significant expansion as well.

However, with time, the infrastructure development has been on a downward slope. Ideally, a restricted access 6 lane expressway should connect these cities with highspeed connectivity to further develop the economy. However, we are left with a half developed section that is not just a commuter's nightmare but also unsafe in many aspects.

The Pune - Satara section

Sometime in 2010, the Pune - Satara section was commissioned to be upgraded from the existing 4-lanes to a 6-lane highway. Massive construction works were supposed to resolve long pending issues. The highway would have bridges that go across high traffic crossings and was to entirely bypass majority villages that dot the highway. The work was supposed to complete in 2013. We are currently in 2020 and the state of affairs have gone from bad to worse. The highway is far from completion and has become a nightmare for commutters.

The NHAI has given Reliance infrastructure a very long rope. Reliance infrastructure has pretty much pledged all their contracts of such infrastructure project and now rides on a massive debt. Doubt there is any way out from the bottomless pit their parent company finds themselves in. The Pune - Satara section has the highest toll rate per km in the entire section of NH4 / 48. Despite that, the road remains far from reality.

From a timeline standpoint, this article from the Hindustan times covers the entire background really well: Link

To summarise:

- 2010 Contract awarded with 2013 as the delivery date.
- 2014 work is not complete.
- 2014 show cause notice issued.
- 2015 a revised deadline is issued for completion by end 2015
- 2015 work is far from completion.
- 2016 show cause notice issued.
- 2018 revised deadline set for March 2018
- 2018 Reliance applies for reissue of deadline to 2020 states 90% of work is complete
- 2018 Transport and Guardian ministers claim several land acquisition issues responsible for delay
- 2018 Guess the new deadline was March 2020
- 2020 November new deadline issued Reliance claims 97.2% work complete
- 2020 November new deadline is March 2021

In some other country, the contractor, company, concessionaire, etc would have been sued out of their pants and publicly humiliated or banned from future contracts. Here our favorite game is extension at the risk of people's lives.

I personally know of atleast a dozen friends who have had incidents leading to severe damage on their cars due to pending works. Traffic jams only add to people's nightmares. I hope we get to see a half decent highway but chances are bleak.

The idiots at Reliance infrastructure who measured 97.2% completion must have measured the total surface area of the 140km highway riddled with potholes.

Last edited by moralfibre : 23rd November 2020 at 11:48.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 10:31   #3
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Future:

Reliance infrastructure limited is sitting on a piling debt of 10,000 crores. Their revenues are shrinking and profit and loss as well as FCF statements show their downward slide into oblivion. Anyone worth their salt who studies their statements will not let them build a single toilet, let alone a highway:

The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway-pl_reliance.png

The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway-cf_reliance.png

Source: Screener.in

I hope NHAI simply terminates their contract instead of playing hand in glove with Reliance infra and offering them extensions on extensions.


More reading:

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Link 4

Last edited by moralfibre : 23rd November 2020 at 11:55.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 11:56   #4
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Mod Note: Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Street Experiences section.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 13:03   #5
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
While Bombay to Pune is connected via a 6 lane restricted access expressway, as you exit the freeway, you land in a world of a nightmare. It is not uncommon for residents of Maharashtra to experience a massive difference in the quality of road surface and surroundings. For example, drive outside Kolhapur and cross Kagal to enter Karnataka.

...

It is a world of a difference.
Excellent points, agree with all of them - I went back and looked at my travelogue posts from 2011 till date and my own posts talk about the same/similar views through the decade! On a side note, Maharashtra folks can take some solace in the view that there is one location that has even worse roads than their highways - MUMBAI CITY!

But my question to all is - isn't this a problem across Maharashtra? I remember the road from Pune to Solapur also used to be horrible (or in construction limbo) for years, with patches of good roads in-between. Not sure about interior state highway conditions, but overall is this more of a state (+NHAI) management issue than just a particular vendor performance issue?
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Old 23rd November 2020, 13:14   #6
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Quote:
Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post

I personally know of atleast a dozen friends who have had incidents leading to severe damage on their cars due to pending works. Traffic jams only add to people's nightmares. I hope we get to see a half decent highway but chances are bleak.

The idiots at Reliance infrastructure who measured 97.2% completion must have measured the total surface area of the 140km highway riddled with potholes.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend in his Honda Jazz lost a tyre thanks to a sidewall tear after Khed-Shivapur. Luckily, the damage was limited to the tyre, and he could pull over and park. Absolutely shambolic road.

Cheers,

Jay
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Old 23rd November 2020, 13:21   #7
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Thanks @moralfibre for creating separate thread for this issue. Hope this thread gets highlighted at all levels and officials, finally, take some action.

It has been ages since the Pune-Satara stretch has been in shambles. I have traveled multiple times to Kolhapur in last few years and I always dread this stretch. The road after Karad is in good motorable condition.

My last trip before the lockdown was in March to Shirdi from Pune and the roads were in pathetic condition from Nagar to Shirdi.

We see so many threads wherein bhpians have highlighted excellent road condition in Tamilnadu and Karnataka. I can only dream of such good NH roads in Maharashtra
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Old 23rd November 2020, 13:44   #8
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
But my question to all is - isn't this a problem across Maharashtra? I remember the road from Pune to Solapur also used to be horrible (or in construction limbo) for years, with patches of good roads in-between. Not sure about interior state highway conditions, but overall is this more of a state (+NHAI) management issue than just a particular vendor performance issue?
==

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simhi View Post
.
My last trip before the lockdown was in March to Shirdi from Pune and the roads were in pathetic condition from Nagar to Shirdi.

We see so many threads wherein bhpians have highlighted excellent road condition in Tamilnadu and Karnataka. I can only dream of such good NH roads in Maharashtra
Yes very much. Go in any direction from MH and the roads improve by leaps and bounds. Highlighted Pune - Satara specifically because I use this highway very frequently and am frustrated.

Last month a bhpian and I rode to Kerala and can confidentally state that Karnataka State highways are 100x better in quality compared to Maharashtra.

Last edited by moralfibre : 23rd November 2020 at 14:22.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 14:52   #9
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

I remember a Facebook group was created where thousands of people had sent letters to Gadkari to highlight the horrible condition of roads. Nothing happened. Sometime few years back I had filed RTI query on road works specially the unfinished flyovers. A bland response in the form of permissions are not acquired hence the work is pending. If permission was not acquired why even dug up the road. Being my regular route to my native Satara, it is scary to drive on it. Sudden potholes so deep to break the car into 2. Even the potholes which have been patched up are horribly done. The patches are so bad that it can unsettle a car easily. Khambatki ghat always used to be a nightmare and still is. Nobel prize of stupidity needs to be awarded to the genius who thought of making only one way tunnel.

All said, this patch has never improved. There are no doubt some wonderful stretches on this route which are driver's paradise. However the moment you hit such sections and speed up a bit, you will be greeted suddenly with pothole ridden stretch.

Both the tolls are the biggest joke in this country. The approach road to tolls itself is in shambles.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 19:04   #10
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

I'm in Jalgaon, Maharashtra (my hometown) for last 8 months, thanks to covid.

It's a district place and roads in every direction from here are so bad (can't even have 50 kmph as average speed) that I feel happy about driving on Pune - Kolhapur road

On other note, we traveled to Bengaluru from Jalgaon via Pune by car last month, and the roads from Kolhapur to Dharwad and last 200 kms stretch before Bengaluru is so good that we could clock 90-100 kms per hour, that too in our 2016 Grand i10 1.2!

There are about 15 tolls costing around 1000 bucks between Pune and Bengaluru.

Last edited by suhaas307 : 26th November 2020 at 12:28. Reason: spacing for improved readability
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Old 23rd November 2020, 19:06   #11
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Thanks for the informative thread moralfiber. Travelled to Goa yesterday using this same route and I completely agree with what is being said on this thread.

I have also been using this stretch umpteen times every year and can vouch that the quality of the road and the infrastructure has gone from bad to worse. To make matters worse we have to pay more toll than Karnataka per km travelled which just rubs salt on the wounds incurred by both our bodies and the car. Heck the final toll before Belgaum which is Hattargi is a meager 30 bucks and you get beautiful roads all the way into Karnataka after that. Compare that to almost 100 bucks they ask us to cough up to travel on the Khed Shivapur to Satara stretch. I wouldn't mind paying at least twice the toll amount at each of the Karnataka tolls to enjoy those kind of roads and infrastructure.

But one thing of solace is that MH12/14 registered cars are exempted from paying toll at Khed Shivapur, so at least you get to use that nightmarish highway without feeling being robbed of your hard earned money. For all the Pune/PCMC folks travelling through Khed Shivapur I request not to roll down your car windows and stay put in your seat. The toll barricade will automatically open and they let you through. Just in case they try to act smart tell them calmly that your MH12/14 registered car is exempted from paying toll.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 19:25   #12
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Completely agree. Been driving on this route while going to Mangalore for the past 8 years and the Pune-Satara stretch is pathetic to say the least.

I starkly remember the flyover at Wai I guess? Over the junction for taking the right to Mahabaleshwar, was completed in 2018 or 2019 I guess. Had been seeing it under construction since 2012. Many more seem to be pending.

And no service roads from Satara to Kolhapur. These just lead to stubborn local two wheelers hogging the second lane, who force heavy vehicles to occupy the first lane and we have to weave in and out of the two lanes to move ahead.

Still this stretch seems to be alright IMO. Considering the condition of roads in the rest of the state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
On a side note, Maharashtra folks can take some solace in the view that there is one location that has even worse roads than their highways - MUMBAI CITY!
I heave a sigh of relief every time I cross the Vashi or the Bhayandar bridges. Mumbai becoming Shanghai. Only thing slower than internet explorer.

Last edited by TROOPER : 23rd November 2020 at 19:30.
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Old 23rd November 2020, 23:04   #13
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

Man you are scaring me. I last travelled this route back in December 2018. Managed to cover ~ 240 km from a little after the Khed Shivapur to somewhere in Belgaum district in about 2 hours 45 mins. There were a few flyovers under construction but the road surface was generally good and the diversions around the flyover sites were well planned.

So am very disappointed to see that this stretch seems to have fallen apart now. Subject to Covid and the continuously varying rules our States impose, I am
scheduled to drive down from Bombay to Goa the weekend before Christmas. It is indeed disconcerting to hear such negative feedback, as even Chorla seems to have fallen apart. Let’s see how it goes
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Old 24th November 2020, 05:48   #14
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

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Man you are scaring me. I last travelled this route back in December 2018. Managed to cover ~ 240 km from a little after the Khed Shivapur to somewhere in Belgaum district in about 2 hours 45 mins. There were a few flyovers under construction but the road surface was generally good and the diversions around the flyover sites were well planned.
I travelled on Thursday and managed Pune to Belgaum in about 4 hours without breaks. But my start time was 0430 hrs. That is the only time there is no jam at tolls and diversions. I took about 6 hours to return via the same route on Sunday and every diversion and toll was a mess.

Quote:
So am very disappointed to see that this stretch seems to have fallen apart now. Subject to Covid and the continuously varying rules our States impose, I am
scheduled to drive down from Bombay to Goa the weekend before Christmas. It is indeed disconcerting to hear such negative feedback, as even Chorla seems to have fallen apart. Letís see how it goes
Do take the Anmod route if you are headed south or Amboli if north. Both are in decent shape. Once you exit Maharashtra, you are in safe hands.
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Old 24th November 2020, 07:19   #15
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Default Re: The Nightmare called Pune - Satara - Karad - Kolhapur Highway

What to say more about this topic except that its my pet peeve as a citizen staying in Pune, MH. The amount of tax collected at the local govt level, the amount of GDP generated and resultant tax collected via all the commercial enterprises in the PMR area, and you get this pathetic state of affairs. Even Nagpur city roads were excellent in comparison when I last visited back in 2015.
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