Skywalks In Mumbai: A Monumental Waste Of Resources?

Skywalks In Mumbai: A Monumental Waste Of Resources?

The Free Press Journal's investigation into the matter has revealed widespread dissatisfaction among taxpayers, who view the skywalks as a colossal waste of money.

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Saturday, February 10, 2024, 06:38 PM IST
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The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) oversees 24 skywalks in Mumbai, but according to Mumbaikars, these structures are failing to serve their intended purpose of alleviating congestion and providing safe passage for pedestrians and commuters. The Free Press Journal's investigation into the matter has revealed widespread dissatisfaction among taxpayers, who view the skywalks as a colossal waste of money.

Reports from the Western Suburbs paint a grim picture of skywalks in disrepair, posing safety hazards for commuters. During a recent visit to Borivali Railway Station's adjacent skywalk, the Free Press Journal observed a concerning lack of maintenance. Broken tiles, damaged pillars, and rampant encroachment by hawkers characterize the sorry state of these structures. Similar conditions prevail at the Kandivali East skywalk, perpetually encroached upon, and the Santacruz East skywalk, where broken tiles and deteriorating infrastructure are the norm.

Karan Jotwani, Chairman of the Lokhandwala Oshiwara Citizen's Association, has voiced concerns about the safety and usability of the Andheri East skywalk, particularly after sunset. He highlighted the absence of lighting on the skywalk, making it uncomfortable for pedestrians and prone to illicit activities such as smoking marijuana. Jotwani emphasized that this situation is not unique to Andheri East but rather a recurring issue across the city, affecting the comfort and safety of female pedestrians who feel uneasy due to the lack of exits and proper lighting.

Despite Andheri being one of the busiest areas in Mumbai, foot traffic on the skywalk remains minimal, with commuters opting for other means of transit. Jotwani urged local authorities to address these concerns promptly, emphasizing the need for improved lighting and overall maintenance to enhance pedestrian safety and convenience.

Amita Warang from Borivali West voices her concern over the deteriorating state of the local skywalk. "It's become a lovers' spot and a hawkers' market," she says. "Despite occasional police action, the situation remains unchanged. Public spaces should be clean, especially during campaigns like 'Swachh Mumbai, Sundar Mumbai'. The skywalk, meant for pedestrians, sees minimal use. It's a waste of resources." Amita urges local authorities to take action and restore the skywalk's purpose.

Anil Galgali, an RTI activist, has raised concerns about the construction and oversight of skywalks in Mumbai. He points out that while the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have undertaken skywalk projects, there has been a lack of adequate monitoring. Galgali recalls a plan in 2002, Station Area Traffic Improvement Scheme to improve traffic around railway stations through an international agreement, which was halted due to a rise in the dollar rate.

Consequently, MMRDA diverted funds to construct new skywalks. Despite an estimated expenditure of ₹800 crores, the current state of these skywalks is poor. Galgali emphasizes the need for proper planning and utilization of funds, highlighting that mere construction without maintenance or tangible benefits to citizens is wasteful.

The plight of Bandra's skywalk, shuttered since 2019 and yet to see reconstruction despite court orders, further underscores the systemic failures in Mumbai's skywalk infrastructure. The BMC's delay in initiating construction, despite a court directive, leaves commuters stranded and underscores the urgency of addressing these issues promptly.

As Mumbai grapples with the consequences of neglecting its skywalks, citizens and authorities alike are urged to prioritize the restoration and maintenance of these vital pedestrian pathways. 

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