Reaching their natives places in Maharashtra’s Konkan region for the Ganesh festival starting from Tuesday was a time consuming and uphill task this year for scores of devotees due to late running of trains, buses and traffic snarls on the pothole-ridden Mumbai-Goa Highway at several stretches.
Lord Ganesh devotees from Mumbai and its adjoining areas who reached their natives villages and hometowns in the coastal region in the last few days for celebrating the festival with their larger families and relatives complained of poor road conditions.
Motorists claimed it took almost double the time required for reaching their villages in Konkan from Mumbai by road due to potholes and hours-long traffic snarls at various locations on the Mumbai-Goa Highway, which is incomplete despite more than a decade of work.
Santosh Sakapal, a Thane resident who originally hails from Khed town in Ratnagiri distinct, said he reached his destination after 13 hours of bus journey when normally it takes 6 to 7 hours of ride.
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Sakapal said he boarded a private luxury bus from Thane at around 7 am on Sunday and reached his hometown 13 hours later.
According to motorists, they faced maximum problem on the Panvel-Indapur and Sangmeshwar-Ratnagiri stretches of the Mumbai-Goa Highway due to potholes and traffic congestions at various locations apart from errant drivers and presence of heavy vehicles.
On Sunday, a man died and 28 others were injured after a state transport (ST) bus collided with a container truck on the highway at Talegoan village near Mangoan in Raigad, one of the Konkan districts.
Earlier this year, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the much-awaited construction work of the Mumbai-Goa National Highway No. 66 will be completed by December 2023 and the road will be thrown open for traffic in January 2024.
The devotees who took rail route, too, faced tough time while travelling to Konkan for the 10-day Ganapati festival starting from Tuesday (September 19) due to late trains of rains, huge crowds of passengers in coaches and stations.
PR Shetye, who travelled to Sawantwadi from Dadar on Monday, said there was a huge crowd at the station and catching the train itself was a tough task, though they did not face any hassle after occupying his seat.
“However, the train was late,” Shetye said, adding his train was put on siding several times to give way to others which was quite annoying.
Some passengers complained they had to wait for the Mumbai CSMT-Sawantwadi Ganpati special train for more than four hours at Panvel station and were unable to get proper information about its status/arrival from the Railways.
According to a Railway spokesperson, the special Ganpati train departed late from its originating station (Mumbai CSMT) as its pairing service from Konkan did not arrive on time.
A large number of people from Konkan, who have settled in Mumbai or do jobs in the metropolis, travel to their native places for the 10-day-long festival that starts on Ganesh Chaturthi and ends on Anant Chaturdashi.
The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) has deployed nearly 3,900 buses to ferry passengers.
According to a MSRTC spokesperson, they are operating a high number of Ganpati special buses this year as compared to last year when their count stood at 2,500.
He said the corporation operated a majority of these buses between Friday (September 15) and Sunday (September 17), while a few of them departed from Mumbai for Konkan on Monday.