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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

State clears plan for city's first cultural walkway in SoBo

Ketaki Ghoge, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, February 23, 2013
First Published: 02:20 IST(23/2/2013) | Last Updated: 02:21 IST(23/2/2013)

The city may get its first cultural pedestrian walkway in south Mumbai by September this year if all goes according to plan. The Empowered Committee on the Mumbai makeover has cleared the Rs15-crore Museum Plaza project in south Mumbai, which will connect the art galleries in the Kala Ghoda area, the Mumbai University, the high court with seamless pedestrian connections and better traffic flow. At the heart of this plaza is the creation of the pedestrian walkway from Kala Ghoda to Jehangir Art Gallery and the museum to the Regal Chowk at the National Gallery of Modern Art.

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Mumbai First, an initiative of private businesses to transform Mumbai into a world-class city made a presentation of the project to the Empowered Committee last week and the details were thrashed out with chief secretary JK Banthia on Monday. The project will be implemented by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), with Mumbai First providing the detailed landscape and traffic plans. (see box)

"This will create much needed public space for Mumbai to host art and music festivals without any disruption to traffic. The traffic police are on board with the plan as is the BMC.  With some landscaping, lighting and signage we can create cultural hub for the city,'' said Narinder Nayar, chairman of Mumbai First and member of Empowered Committee.

The plaza created will be larger than the Gateway of India.  The project will require the BMC and BEST to move a few bus stops (including the one outside NGMA), traffic lights and they will have to realign road medians. There is also a plan to create taxi zones with pick-up and drop-off points.

The second phase of the project talks of a 500-car underground parking facility once the traffic diversion is implemented. However, officials said that for the time being the focus would be solely on phase I as underground parking would require shifting of utilities and a host of permissions. "The only big cost is for landscaping which is projected at Rs7.7 crore. It's a feasible project if all agencies work in tandem. But, past experience shows that our implementation is very tardy,'' admitted an official, who is a member of the Empowered Committee.


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