131 cr spent on your vanishing footpaths | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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131 cr spent on your vanishing footpaths

mumbai Updated: Oct 08, 2011 01:27 IST
Sujit Mahamulkar

Rs 131 crore in five years. That's how much of the taxpayers' money the civic body has spent on building and maintaining footpaths across the city, shows official data obtained by Hindustan Times. That's an average of Rs 5.45 crore on each of the 24 wards in the city.

So where are the footpaths? And why is it impossible to find a footpath you can walk on?

"We are paying taxes for better civic amenities. Wherever there are footpaths, they are not level. Pavements should be pedestrian-friendly and well-maintained," said Leena Prabhoo, chairperson of the citizen group, Forum for Improving Quality of Life in Mumbai/Suburbs.

Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner, is surprised that such a large sum has been spent on pavements. "It may not have been spent only to repair footpaths but also on shifting underground utilities," he said.

Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong with Mumbai's pavements. They are too high or too low, they are uneven, they end abruptly, they are encroached upon by shanties and hawkers, or they are simply not there. All of which leave pedestrians no choice but to scurry along bustling main roads dodging traffic.

The wide-scale use of paver blocks since 2000 has made matters worse. Poorly laid, the blocks come off easily or are uneven, and you risk a twisted ankle walking on them.

Pavements are in bad shape on arterial roads such as LBS Marg (between Sion and Mulund); on Andheri-Kurla Road, the footpath has been reduced to rubble; paver blocks have come off on large stretches of the footpath on LJ Road in Mahim; on Ranade Road, Dadar, the surface is so bad that pedestrians are likely to injure themselves if they walk on the footpath.

The BMC data shows it has spent the most on pavements from Dadar to Mahim - Rs 6.91 crore in the past five years.

The suburbs, where the population and the number of vehicles are rising rapidly and development is mostly unplanned, are the worst affected.

"We are trying to make better, encroachment-free footpaths in the city," said Vijay Balamwar, deputy municipal commissioner, encroachments removal department.

Nandkumar Salvi, a former chief engineer of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), disagrees. "The BMC is not giving as much importance to improving footpaths as it is giving to roads," he said.

Mayor Shraddha Jadhav acknowledges that pavements are in bad shape. "I will instruct the roads department to pay proper attention to footpaths," she said. "Also, the height of footpaths should be not more than 6 inches from the road so that citizens don't have a problem using them."