Tired of bungling bureaucrats and flawed transportation plans such as the jazzy Rs 700 crore skywalks that lie unused or random cycle paths that end up nowhere, more than 50 of the city’s leading transport and traffic experts including townplanners, transportation engineers, architects, environmentalists and retired urban development officials have joined hands to work on a master plan that they hope will finally solve the city’s unending traffic woes. And for now at least, they have the government’s ears.
The experts, under the umbrella of the just-christened Mumbai Transportation Forum hope to come up with a concrete purpose by the end of this year in this regard, which they will then place before the MMRDA and the BMC authorities. Speaking to SUNDAY MiD DAY noted transport expert Jitendra Gupta said, “Yes, we have initiated movement and several transport experts from Mumbai have just formed the group. We will prepare a mission document, which will highlight the most critical issues that commuters and motorists face today and how these can be addressed by the government. The plan is in the initial stages so I don’t want to comment more on this now.”
Another expert who is a part of this group said the forum would need to act as a pressure group to make sure different state agencies planned their projects properly and stuck to deadlines, instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on skywalks and cycle paths. “In the past we have seen how Rs 700 crore was wasted by the MMRDA in constructing skywalks which are hardly used by a few hundred people every day. Similarly, the Rs 6.48 crore spent on a cycle track project at BKC has also gone down the drain. Our forum will make presentations to the agencies like MMRDA, BMC, MSRDC, PWD and the Traffic Police department about projects which really need to be implemented,” he added.
The founding members of the forum include names such as Ashok Datar, Sudhir Badami, Jitendra Gupta and Rishi Agarwal. When contacted, Datar, who is also the chairman of Mumbai Environmental Social Network confirmed the forum’s formation. “The group which consists of transport experts, engineers and analysts will have continuous dialogue with the government whenever there is a major new project in the pipeline. We will also be preparing a blueprint of top issues that pedestrians and motorists face and how they should be addressed,” he said.
One of the key focus areas for the forum will be to emphasise on deadline-based projects with a point-by-point target of how the project can be finished on time. The good news is that some government agencies at least are open to the idea of advice from a non-governmental expert panel. When SMD contacted MMRDA’s Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar, he welcomed such a move. “MMRDA has always been happy to discuss and seek advice of experts whenever we are implementing a new project. If any forum wants to discuss an issue or a particular project and its implementation with us, we are open for suggestions.”
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