Maintain skywalks before building more

Have Mumbaikars really benefited from the many expensive skywalks dotting the cityscape? Has the taxpayers’ money been put to good use? While the city’s development authorities insist that pumping in crores of the common man’s money into these structures is a good idea, most of the train commuters beg to differ. 

Most of the skywalks have come up in the face of stiff resistance from local residents. To build 36 skywalks in the Mumbai metropolitan region, the MMRDA and MSRDC have spent over Rs 700 crore — that is, an average of Rs 20 crore per skywalk.

Of course, the intentions were noble: they were planned so that commuters could reach their destinations from the platforms without having to cross the dangerous roads and chowks.

However, their construction has brought a horde of new problems. Most of them come with steep flights of stairs, as a result of which they are often given a wide berth by train travellers, especially those who are aged or handicapped.

MiD DAY reporters visited five skywalks — at Bandra (West), Borivali (West), Sion, Cotton Green and Kanjurmarg — only to find that a majority of them are unfriendly for senior citizens and kids, with many steps, no escalators, and often no lights.

Safety becomes an issue at night, with women staying away from these walkways. With no security personnel deployed at these spots, and no lights, they become havens for drug addicts, beggars and anti-social elements. They are unclean and unsafe.

When the MMRDA said it wouldn’t build any more skywalks, MHADA and BMC announced new ones. These bodies would do well to think through the pros and cons of building more of these unpopular structures — and make arrangements for the maintenance of the existing ones, while they’re at it.  

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