mid-day editorial: The footpath bar needs to space out

Published: Dec 22, 2016, 08:14 IST | mid-day correspondent |

Our pavements have been taken over by encroachers, whether they are small stalls, mechanic shops or other sundry commercial outlets, while our roads have become a battleground for pedestrians and traffic, with the former suffering and the latter riding bumper to bumper

Our pavements have been taken over by encroachers, whether they are small stalls, mechanic shops or other sundry commercial outlets, while our roads have become a battleground for pedestrians and traffic, with the former suffering and the latter riding bumper to bumper.

In a scenario like this, saving what we can of our public spaces assumes even greater importance. A report in this paper yesterday showed how the ingenuity of this city of enterprise could sometimes be used in crooked ways. There is a container-like structure on the Jerbai Wadia road in Bhoiwada, which has been operating as a bar since 2008. It has come up on a footpath after a slum rehabilitation project got mired in red tape and the bar owner did not get the place he was promised.

Yet, it is unthinkable that a bar is being allowed to function on a footpath. This, despite complaints from several residents who regard this as a nuisance and are quite rightly irked by the fact that a liquor outlet is operating on a public space. Now, with the party season in full swing and the countdown to a new year already upon us, sales are expected to be brisk and this container-outlet is sure to be more crowded and see more business than ever. The outlet needs to find a small, alternate location and get off the footpath. It cannot wait for the rehabilitation wrangle to sort itself out and say it will shift when space is given to them. The authorities need to see this is implemented.

This though is only symbolic of a larger problem about our footpaths being taken over almost completely by kiosks, stores, outlets and carts. The encroachment has gone beyond control and it will take a Herculean effort to tackle the issue. Yet, even starting in small ways and making some inroads means freeing up precious space. In Mumbai, even a little public space is to be relished and cherished.

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