Mumbai, Nov 28 (IANS): In an abrupt move, the Maharashtra government has eased out the powerful and controversial Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) Vice-Chairman & Managing Director Radheshyam Mopalwar and replaced him with the Jt. MD Anil Gaikwad, official sources here on Wednesday.
The development surprised bureaucratic and political circles as Mopalwar - who had retired in 2018 - was considered a favourite of successive state regimes for his administrative skills, and was given a record number of seven service extensions during the past six years.
The high-profile Mopalwar's most prestigious assignment was implementing the ambitious 701-km long Mumbai-Nagpur Samruddhi Super Expressway post-retirement, which is now nearing completion in the third and final phase.
However, after the inauguration of its first phase in December 2022 at the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Samruddhi Corridor's reputation got cloudy with a spate of big and small accidents that have claimed over 150 lives in the past 12 months.
Several groups and NGOs like the Council of Protection of Right-Grahak Bharati and others slammed the extreme hurried inauguration of the partly-completed Samruddhi Corridor without providing the necessary facilities and amenities for the travellers en route.
"In the hurry to grab the credit, the Samruddhi Corridor was inaugurated hastily and has now earned the sobriquet of ‘Killer Expressway’, with drivers suffering from monotony and highway hypnosis that leads to accidents almost daily there," said CPR President Barrister Vinod Tiwari.
Hence, he said that the removal of Mopalwar was necessary and wondered why it was delayed when so many innocent people lost their lives on the expressway.
"We hope the new VC-MD Anil Gaikwad will take immediate remedial measures to make the expressway safe for the passengers," he added.
During his long career in MSRDC, Mopalwar worked under five Chief Ministers – Ashok Chavan, Prithviraj Chavan (Congress), Devendra Fadnavis (Bharatiya Janata Party), Uddhav Thackeray (Maha Vikas Aghadi) and Eknath Shinde (MahaYuti) – and had been posted to several high-ranking key posts in the administration.