Most of the skywalks around Mumbai lie dirty and unused
No one, it seems, wants to maintain the city's 39 skywalks. A year after MMRDA officials wrote to BMC authorities asking them to take over the maintenance work, senior civic officers say they are still debating the matter
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority’s (MMRDA) plans of getting the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to maintain at least some of the 39 skywalks across the city seem to be falling flat. Nearly a year after MMRDA officials wrote to their counterparts in the BMC in this regard, the civic body has maintained a studied silence.
In December 2012, MiD DAY had reported how the MMRDA wanted to shift the skywalk burden on to the BMC. MMRDA officials had then written to the civic authorities requesting them to take over the maintenance of at least 23 skywalks in Greater Mumbai, suggestingthat they generate revenue by selling advertising space on theskywalks. Of course the MMRDA had also sought 50 per centof the revenue share from these expected advertisements, arguing that it needed to recover the cost of construction at the earliest.
But with the BMC still sitting tight on the proposal, MMRDA officials seem resigned to fate. Metropolitan Commissioner UPS Madan told SUNDAY MiD DAY , “I have not received any response from the BMC yet in this regard.” It should be noted that many of the skywalks including the ones at Borivli West, Santacruz East and West and Bandra West are in poor condition mainly because the private agencies appointed by MMRDA did not do their job.
Up in the sky, down the drain
After realising that the Rs 700 crore spent on constructing the several skywalks, had largely been a wasteful expenditure since few pedestrians avail of the facility while Rs 2.5 crore was being spent every year to maintain these white elephants, the then Metropolitan Commissioner Rahul Asthana had written to the BMC in December 2012, stating that the MMRDA wants to hand over the maintenance rights of all skywalks inside Mumbai Metrpolitan Area. In return, MMRDA would be willing to let BMC keep 50 per cent of the revenues earned from sale of ad space on the skywalks.
But clearly the BMC is going slow on this. When contacted, Additional Municipal Commissioner SVR Srinivas said, “We have gone though the letter written by MMRDA. We will conduct a joint inspection of the skywalks soon, after which a final decision will be taken.”
Asthana’s letter had admitted that under the Station Area Traffic Improvement Scheme (SATIS), various skywalks had been constructed outside railway stations within the MCGM limits. These skywalks, he said, may have helped decongest the railway station area, but were not generating revenue.
Initially, the MMRDA had plans to construct 56 skywalks in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). However, after it found pedestrian response to the first few skywalks to be lukewarm, the planning authority cancelled the remaining skywalks and constructed only 39 skywalks in the MMR.
Skywalks in numbers
>> Total skywalks in the city – 39
>> MMRDA wants BMC to maintain – 23
>> Cost of building the skywalks – R 700 crore
>> Annual total maintenance cost – R 2.5 crore
>> MMRDA plans to recover cost by selling advertising space on skywalks