Mumbai: After High Court Rebuke, BMC Takes Step To Make Footpath Disabled-Friendly

Mumbai: After High Court Rebuke, BMC Takes Step To Make Footpath Disabled-Friendly

The HC had also directed the BMC to ensure that all footpaths are encroachment-free and accessible to the disabled.

SHEFALI PARAB-PANDITUpdated: Wednesday, February 28, 2024, 09:30 PM IST
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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation | File

Mumbai, February 28: The BMC has decided to conduct an audit of footpaths to ensure that they are accessible for the disabled. Accordingly, the civic body has come up with a request of proposal to appoint NGOs, who will study the size of footpaths and hindrances in accessing them. The estimated cost of the audit work is around Rs2 crore.

During a hearing on a petition filed by two shopkeepers, the Bombay High Court had last year slammed the BMC for encroachment on footpaths. The court had asked the state government whether an advisory board for policies regarding specially abled persons was formed and what steps it had taken, so far, in the same regard.

Audit Of Footpaths To Be Done:

The HC had also directed the BMC to ensure that all footpaths are encroachment-free and accessible to the disabled. Accordingly, a tender was invited on Wednesday to appoint a panel of NGOs in each of the seven zones for three years. As per a civic official, “The panel of NGOs will carry out an audit on the status of the footpath, its size and encroachment or hindrance on the footpath. It will also check the status of accessibility for persons with disability.”

However, Godfrey Pimenta, founder of WatchDog Foundation, said, “This endeavour seems questionable as it appears to be a mere formality rather than a genuine effort to address accessibility issues.” The prevalence of encroachments, illegal extensions and parking hindrances on footpaths, especially around railway stations, renders them unusable for both able-bodied individuals and those with disabilities.

Rather than relying on NGOs, the BMC should consider implementing a comprehensive plan or design for footpaths and roads, he said. Vedant Mhatre from Walking Project said that it would be better if the BMC appoints NGOs at ward-level, easing entry of smaller social welfare groups.

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