Mumbai: Identical stalls to make footpaths at Fort more pedestrian-friendly

Updated: May 12, 2019, 07:34 IST | Arita Sarkar

To make heritage area pedestrian-friendly, stalls on footpaths to be re-built

Mumbai: Identical stalls to make footpaths at Fort more pedestrian-friendly
Due to haphazard construction of stalls on the footpaths of Fort, pedestrian movement has become difficult. Pic/Datta Kumbhar

The footpaths at Fort precinct have long been a tricky space for pedestrians and tourists to negotiate, mainly due to their uneven surface and stalls, which leave little room for walking. But, the BMC finally seems to have a solution. The heritage department has decided to regulate the vendors by giving an identical look to all the stalls in the area.

As part of the '6cr pilot project, first initiated by Additional Municipal Commissioner Idzes Kundan, the BMC will refurbish an 850-metre section of MG Road, including two stretches from Flora Fountain to Regal Cinema and Kala Ghoda junction to the Standard Chartered Bank. Apart from creating footpaths made of concrete, the BMC is also planning standardised signage for shops, street furniture for people to sit on and lights that maintain the heritage look of the area.

The plan for Ash Lane Junction in Fort.  Apart from rebuilding the stalls, the BMC is also planning standardised signage and new street furniture

At present, there are a total of 83 vendors on MG Road, said an official from the heritage department. According to the official, due to haphazard construction of stalls, pedestrian movement has become difficult in the area. "We will create a uniform look. We're planning to use corporate funding as offices in the area also want the area to clear up," the official said.

The civic official added that keeping the same design will also help ensure that there is no encroachment. "We will mark the outlines based on the dimensions mentioned in the licence allotted to the vendors. We will also get in touch with the town vending committee to get the dimensions of the stalls," he said.

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The plan for Ash Lane Junction in Fort.  Apart from rebuilding the stalls, the BMC is also planning standardised signage and new street furniture
The plan for Ash Lane Junction in Fort. Apart from rebuilding the stalls, the BMC is also planning standardised signage and new street furniture

While most vendors have welcomed the idea, some were concerned about being shifted elsewhere. Pinku Jaiswal, 30, who has been selling glasses, torches and other miscellaneous products, said, "If the BMC creates a stall for us, it is a good thing. The BMC keeps changing the tiles every four to five years. If they fix things, it will benefit everyone. We also want the area to look good since it attracts customers," he said.

Ashfaq Khan, 32, who owns two stalls in front of Mulla House at Kala Ghoda, thinks that the BMC should redesign the stalls, based on the kind of wares the vendors sell. "Some of us sell jeans, while others sell smaller items like phone covers or stationery items. We need different kinds of storage. The BMC should keep these things in mind, when designing the stalls. As long as our businesses aren't affected and they don't ask us to move from here, we don't have a problem," he said.

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The BMC will refurbish an 850-metre section of MG Road
The BMC will refurbish an 850-metre section of MG Road

To help the pedestrians cross the roads safely, the BMC will also re-engineer the footpaths. They will add landscaping and a landing space to the divider as well as a zebra crossing. As part of street furniture, the BMC will set up concrete benches every five to 10 metres, which will be attached to the ground. Once completed, the footpaths will have a curb drop ramp, which will be disabled-friendly. Even the base of the trees will be covered with a gate that will be made out of cast iron.

The official added that they will also do away with the bus stands and replace them with minimalistic poles to indicate the bus stops. Depending on the outcome of the pilot project, the heritage department plans to implement the same measures in areas like Horniman Circle, Ballard Estate and other sections of MG Road. Even though Reliable Enterprises was appointed as the contractor a few months ago and the work order was issued in April, work couldn't begin as the code of conduct came into effect. "Work will begin soon and will take 10 months to complete," said an official.

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