Walking in the city is going to get more difficult. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to cut down the size of footpaths to widen roads in the city. The civic body has identified three spots in the city - two at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road in the Dadar-Byculla stretch and the third at Mahalaxmi, where the size of the pavements will be reduced.
The road widening is being done on the recommendation of the Mumbai Metropolitian Region Development Authority (MMRDA) that is constructing five flyovers on Ambedkar Road. Two of these are functional, while three are under construction. Since the pillars of the flyovers constrict traffic, MMRDA has suggested the size of footpaths near Hindmata junction and the Byculla zoo be reduced for a smoother traffic flow.
“Wherever necessary we have to reduce the size of footpath otherwise the city will have to face traffic jams,” said Ravindra Waikar a chairman of the civic Standing committee. He also clarified that there is no such policy or plan to reduce size of all pavements in the city, “These could be just exceptions,” Waikar added.
The one and half km long footpath from Rakhangi Chowk on E’Moses Road to Mahalakxmi railway station is also being narrowed to allow better traffic movement. Assistant municipal commissioner, Shrikant Gadkari of the G-north ward has put forth this proposal.
A contract for narrowing the footpath will be undertaken by a private agency at the cost of Rs 1 crore.
“Footpaths exist only in the island city. Most of them have been encroached upon, filled with garbage or taken over by hawkers, litterers and urinaters. If BMC can not increase the size of the footpaths, at least the civic body should take steps for maintaining those which exist instead of narrowing and reducing them,” said Nayana Kathpalia, co-convenor of the NGO Citispace.
Kathpalia added that pedestrians should be the top priority on BMC’s list compared with other commuters. “There should be blanket ‘no’ to reduce the size of footpaths,” said Kathpalia.
“Mumbai has more pedestrians than car users. The BMC should decide if the city’s footpaths and roads are meant for car users or pedestrians,” said Ratnakar Patil a Worli resident.