Yesterday, this paper started an extensive campaign against encroachments on footpaths, which rob the city dweller of yet another right — the right to walk — a right that is taken as a given in every city in the world but Mumbai.
Today, it is highly dangerous for pedestrians in Mumbai. They are forced to keep to roads, as pavements are being taken over. They have to squeeze past idling traffic, walk to one side, literally clinging to the sides of the road as traffic passes a hair’s breadth away from them.
Pavements have for long been encroached upon by little shops, which suddenly start growing after a few years. There are a large number of street food sellers who also use the pavements to set up their carts or small stalls. Then, as their popularity grows, one sees more encroachment — plastic tables and chairs are set up on pavements. And soon, that chunk of space becomes inaccessible to the pedestrian.
Pavements are routinely dug up for some repairing, forcing people off them. Looking at the whole picture, we think it is safe to say that there is less pavement and more pain for the Mumbaikar.
Authorities need to crack down hard on pavements becoming parking lots in a space-starved city. Unless, they nip the problem in the bud right now, car owners too will stake a claim to these footpaths permanently, just like shops, hawkers, street food sellers, and juice stalls. Once they grow roots that go deep, it will become extremely difficult to remove them from the spot.