Mumbai Skywalk audit: Bandra East walkway is home to slums dwellers with no space for pedestrians

Updated: Dec 11, 2017, 12:10 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav and Laxman Singh | Mumbai

The first to be opened in the city in 2008 - Bandra East skywalk - is in no better shape than its sibling in the west, nor the others across the city

The 1.3-km long Bandra East skywalk has the distinction of being the first to be constructed in the city - at a cost of Rs 14 crore and opened in June 2008. Unfortunately, that's the only distinction it has.

The skywalks in Bandra East and West both face the same problems - beggars, filth and damaged flooring among others. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
The skywalks in Bandra East and West both face the same problems - beggars, filth and damaged flooring among others. Pics/Datta Kumbhar

Waste of money
Plagued by poor maintenance since the start, its arm connecting Bandra station with BKC junction, which was the first one inaugurated, is barely used by any pedestrians or commuters, while the other one connecting the station with the Bandra metropolitan court sees significant footfalls - reason being, the road below is always full of traffic and encroachments, leaving pedestrians jostling for space; hence, they prefer to use the skywalk.

With Garib Nagar slums on one side of the skywalk, pedestrians have complained of slum dwellers making the skywalk their home whenever a demolition drive is carried out there. A frequent user of the skywalk, Dheeraj B, said, "I take the skywalk whenever I come to BKC for work. I believe it has really helped the BKC-bound, as the road below is in a pathetic state and not worth walking on; the skywalk provides a safe journey. That said, the arm connecting station to BKC via the SRA office was a waste of money - most people take the arm up to court, and then, get down on the road and cross to reach BKC."

Dark nights
The biggest problem here is the pitch-dark people are forced to walk in at night as almost all tubelights on the skywalk are damaged. And at the Bandra station-end, a hawker who sells his wares on the skywalk has got his own power connection by tampering with the skywalk lights. Damaged and missing floor tiles, and filth and paan stains all over scream poor maintenance.

Besides this, more and more hawkers have been coming to sell their goods here, and the security guard posted to stop such activities is nowhere to be seen. A citizen, who did not wish to be named, told mid-day that the skywalk was not safe for pedestrians at night because of drug addicts and beggars gathering on it after hours.

In the west
In July 2010, the 864-metre skywalk in Bandra West was opened for pedestrians, constructed at a cost of R28.74 crore. It connects to platform 1 - one of its arms passes over the SV Road and goes towards Badi Masjid, while the other towards National Library.

When mid-day paid a visit yesterday, we found that the arm going towards Badi Masjid was in a really bad state - paan stains and broken and missing tiles in many places. Several beggars have made this stretch their home, with a number of them coming to sleep there at night. The stretch that goes towards Bandra Talao, in comparison, is clean; broken tiles, however, adorn it too.

This skywalk too is risky for pedestrians after dark for the same reasons - no security guard and the influx of drug addicts late at night. A local, Mamta Bangera, said, "The skywalk is helpful to avoid traffic and encroached footpaths, but I prefer walking on the road at night because I don't think its safe up there then. Government authorities have spent a lot of money constructing skywalks across the city; they need to maintain them properly and post guards if they want people to use them."

1.3 km
Length of Bandra East skywalk

Rs 13 cr
Cost at which the east one was built

June 2008
Month in which East skywalk was opened

864m
Length of Bandra West skywalk

Rs 28.74 cr
Cost at which the west one was built

July 2010
Month in which West skywalk was opened

Local take
Lynett D'souza, a commuter
'When the skywalk was opened, I took it frequently, but a year later, its condition deteriorated. And lack of maintenance has made it worse. The biggest risk of using the skywalk in Bandra West at night is sharing space with drug addicts, who have been flourishing there for lack of a security guard'

Niggling issues
> The tiles on the floor of both Bandra East and West skywalks are broken.
> Both skywalks are dotted with paan stains and other filth.
> Nuisance of hawkers and beggars has become never-ending in both places.

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