Why pedestrians skip this skywalk

Feb 10, 2012, 07:55 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Built at a cost of Rs 30 crore, the skywalk at Kandivli (E) does not connect to the railway foot over-bridge, forcing commuters to trudge through the crowded street below; another at Andheri (E) shares the same fate

Built at a cost of Rs 30 crore, the skywalk at Kandivli (E) does not connect to the railway foot over-bridge, forcing commuters to trudge through the crowded street below; another at Andheri (E) shares the same fate

Having come under fire for building practically useless flyovers across the city, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has been desperately defending its claims in favour of the expensive constructions.

Stopped Short: The skywalk at Kandivli (East) ends well before the
railway station, making it impossible for commuters to avoid the crowded
roads on their way to catching trains. Pics/Nimesh Dave

One of these was that the skywalks in Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) were designed to help pedestrians reach the nearby railway station conveniently. The fact, however, is that the skywalks at Kandivli and Andheri -- built at the cost of Rs 30 crore and Rs 35 crore respectively -- have hardly any takers, as they end abruptly and well short of any of the foot over-bridges (FOBs) leading in and out of the railway stations.

When questioned why these skywalks have not been constructed to connect to the railway FOBs, the MMRDA officials said, "Apart from the Kandivli (East) and Andheri (East) skywalks, all other skywalks have been connected to railway FOBs. We are waiting for permission from the Western Railways (WR), and as soon as we get it, we will connect the skywalks with railway FOBs, to convenience the pedestrians."

While vouching for its ambitious skywalk project, MMRDA officials had made tall and insistent claims that they would help commuters and pedestrians reach the railway stations quickly. "Outside most of the railway stations, there is rampant encroachment of hawkers on the footpaths, spilling onto the roads; this leaves very little space for the commuters and pedestrians to walk. The main aim to provide skywalks was that once a person gets down from the train, he or she does not have to negotiate the crowded roads, and can take the skywalks, safely and conveniently, avoiding the crowds. We have already connected a majority of the skywalks with railway FOBs, and the remaining will also be connected soon," said an MMRDA official, requesting anonymity.

In the last two years, MMRDA had partially opened the skywalks at Kandivli (East) and Andheri (East). As these skywalks are not connected to railway FOBs, there are hardly any pedestrians using them. This means that the immense sum of money spent in constructing the skywalks has gone down the drain.

Speaking to MiD DAY, Andheri (East) resident Sagar More said, "Rarely do pedestrians use the skywalks, because we have to climb down, and again climb up to the railway FOBs, as the skywalk is not connected to the latter. I prefer walking on the roads. The only people who have benefited from these skywalks are courting couples."

MMRDA had constructed the skywalk in Andheri (East) as numerous commercial establishments dominate the area. Speaking to MiD DAY, an MMRDA official said, "We have already connected the skywalk with the new WR administrative building, and we will also connect them to the FOB."

In Kandivli (East), the skywalk has only added to the congestion in the area, feel commuters. Kandivli resident Abhijit K said, "The only exit from the railway station in Kandivli (E) is in the Akurli Road, which connects the station with the Western Express Highway. Walking on the Akurli road is already a problem because of the encroachment on the footpaths and roads by hawkers. The skywalk constructed by the MMRDA bang in the middle of this road has reduced its width.  However, this skywalk would have been really helpful if it was connected to the railway FOB."

Taking note of the inconvenience caused to the pedestrians and commuters, the WR and MMRDA have now decided to construct a new FOB, which will pass over the railway level-crossing, and connect to the skywalk.
While implementing the skywalk project, MMRDA set itself a deadline of December 2010. However, till date, only 28 skywalks have been fully opened, and eight partially. Experts and some citizens' groups have been taking potshots at the skywalk project, saying that it was nothing but a waste of public money.

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