A 50-crore skywalk! That headline prompted us to take a trip down to Grant road station, where this magical construction is set to appear a few months — or years, going by how things work whenever a government agency is involved — from now.
We stepped off the foot overbridge connected to the first phase of the skywalk to find that we were accompanied by just seven other people who felt the need to use it too. The sides of the skywalk were filthy, with little piles of paan-stained rubbish accumulated at the foot of every girder. There was one gentleman, presumably inebriated, asleep in a corner and the staircase that eventually let us down near Nana Chowk was so narrow that we shuddered to think of the poor souls using it at rush hour if the skywalk were actually popular.
This tale repeats itself at most skywalks across the city. Step onto one today to see what we mean. Advertising, supposedly a means to pay for maintenance, is non-existent at most places. There are few indications that the number of people using them justifies the cost of putting them up, most of them are responsible for ruining the crowded roads on which they stand and some, like the pink one at Santacruz station, are an embarrassment.
What, then, justifies the construction of a 510-metre long walkway supported by stress rods suspended from a central tower, four escalators and fancy LED lights? According to the chief engineer of the MSRDC, this will become a hot spot for Mumbaikars and tourists. He says the MSRDC is always criticised for trying to do what Singapore and Shanghai have done. In other words, who cares about poor planning and a lack of basic amenities when we can now have a skywalk with some LED lights?