Mumbai: BMC to study 23 skywalks in the city after mid-day's skywalk safety audit

Updated: Dec 21, 2017, 15:28 IST | Laxman Singh and Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

mid-day impact » Following this paper's safety audit series about the elevated walkways, civic body promises to study all 23 skywalks and improve their condition

Our inspection drive is done and the ball firmly in the authorities' court. Taking note of mid-day's audit of skywalks across the city, the BMC has promised to rectify all their issues at the earliest. It is also planning to make an inventory of all the 23 skywalks, as their defect liability period (warranty) expired in 2016. An inventory of skywalks, which will include their age, length, present condition, month/year when the last repairs were done, structural stability and footfalls, will help the civic body to prepare structural status data.

Hawkers sleeping on Borivli skywalk
Hawkers sleeping on Borivli skywalk

All in a month
Speaking to mid-day, chief engineer of Bridge Department, S O Kori said, "The defect liability period of all 23 skywalks has ended; so, we are going to do an inventory and prepare a report within a month. The skywalks will be divided in three categories — good, bad and worst. The inventory will include all the problems present in every skywalk, like broken flooring, missing railings and other structural issues. The problem of non-functioning and broken lights will be also resolved. "If any skywalk is in a very bad shape, then we will take that one up on priority."

He assured that whatever shortcomings the skywalks had would be addressed in a month. "We are in the process of preparing estimates for repairs on all skywalks. For posting security guards, installing proper lights and maintaining cleanliness, we told the respective wards to do the needful. They will definitely take care of these issues."

The start
The idea was first floated by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) in 2007 to help pedestrians reach strategic locations, like bus stands, taxi and autorickshaw stands, and shopping areas, or exit crowded and congested railway stations. Called the 'Mumbai Skywalk Project', its aim was to connect stations and other high concentration commercial areas with various heavily targeted destinations. It was part of the Station Area Traffic Improvement Scheme. The MMRDA has constructed 28 of the 36 skywalks across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation constructing seven and the Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation one.

Buck passed
MMRDA's initial proposal had been to construct 56 skywalks, but that plan was shelved after observing poor response from pedestrians to the ones built. The authorities have spent more than R800 crore on the construction of these skywalks, which have time and again found themselves in the news for all the wrong reasons. MMRDA had its eye on earning revenue by offering space on the skywalks to advertisers, but that too failed miserably. The authority also failed to ensure safety of women pedestrians on the skywalks at night.

In 2014, it handed over all 23 to the BMC for maintenance and security. Shiv Sena had then opposed the move and alleged that the skywalks had been constructed without a proper study and their design was faulty.

36 Total number of skywalks in the MMR
Rs 800 cr Total amount spent on construction of skywalks
56 Number of skywalks in MMRDA's initial proposal

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A bad idea
Samajwadi Party corporator in the BMC, Rais Shaikh, feels that it was a bad idea to take over the skywalks as they were proving to be an unnecessary burden for the civic body. "The skywalks were constructed by the MMRDA; so, ideally, maintenance is their responsibility. Most skywalks have become an inconvenience for citizens due to lack of proper maintenance and security," he said.

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