On the road to Sabarmati-1
Well, automatically, the question arises: from where?
From Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, where I live.
If you ask if I am proceeding directly to the historical site, I say, ‘No.”
Phir? My journey, by the way, is bimodal. I mean rail and road. Not railroad!
First leg: Delhi to Mumbai by the Rajdhani Express.
Ask me why to Mumbai. Are they not direct trains to Ahmedabad, where Sabarmati Ashram is? Plenty.
My purpose for the Mumbai visit is to meet my long-time colleague and road warrior Harbans Singh at Charoti, Palghar district.
Does Charoti sound familiar?
Definitely. It is the same place where the ex-chairman of Tata group Cyrus Mistry died in a gruesome road accident a few weeks ago.
Harbans has been highlighting the poor maintenance of this stretch for more than a decade. Mumbai-based IRB is the concessionaire who built this highway (part of the Golden Quadrilateral) and maintains it perpetually.
Accidents, including deaths, are too many on this stretch. Poor road design? Definitely. National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is the nodal authority for the upkeep of national highways. These mishaps amply show that all is not well.
A couple of years ago, I visited this stretch with Harbans and wrote to NHAI. A standard response came. My complaint was referred to IRB, and they refuted that my allegations were baseless and, you’re right, NHAI went back to sleep.
So, in a few hours today (26th September), I will be boarding the Rajdhani Express (Train №22222) for Charoti via Mumbai.
Sudhir Badami, the Mumbai-based IITian and road safety expert — another old friend — will join this visit.
Badami studied the Mistry accident and suggested a joint trip to Charoti. I admit I am no safety expert. But today, everyone is a road safety expert, isn’t it?
Why not go to Ahmedabad via Mumbai? Badami demanded.
Why not? I agreed. So, I am off to Mumbai.
So, what about the Sabarmati trip? Wait, folks. I have not finished.
From Mumbai, I will be moving to Nagpur.
What’s this? Instead of moving northwestwardly to Ahmedabad, why am I going to the center of India — Nagpur?
I shall reveal the mystery in the next dispatch. Hang on.
(To be continued)