More than 1,000 suggestions for Mumbai’s budget poured in from citizen groups, activists and individuals two weeks ago. The civic body is now in the process of implementing some of the common demands in its budget — creating pedestrian-only zones across the city, allocating funds to protect trees and improving Mumbai’s public transport are among them.
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Starting February 1, HT had initiated a campaign demanding that citizens be allowed to give their ideas for the BMC budget. The civic standing committee accepted the demand and gave citizens five days to write in with their ideas.
To improve public transport, BEST will get more than Rs10 crore to lease hybrid buses and ply them on busy routes. This week, top officials from the BMC, the traffic police and the regional transport office will meet transport minister Diwakar Raote to flesh out a plan.
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A large number of suggestions stressed on the need for a more pedestrian-friendly city. The BMC is now planning to start with the roads around Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and Churchgate stations , said Yashodhar Phanse, the civic standing panel chairman. “The sheer volume of people who use these two railway stations demands that we ensure they have better facilities to walk,” he said.
Aaditya Thackeray, the chief of Shiv Sena’s youth wing Yuva Sena had backed HT’s demand.
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He said he would ask the BMC to look at creating a pedestrian zone at Kala Ghoda. “I’m glad the BMC is taking up pedestrianisation on streets where it’s impractical to have vehicles owing to heavy pedestrian movement. Such streets will provide some order to the chaos, yet keep them buzzing. Similarly, if a road such as the Kala Ghoda festival street can be made partly pedestrian, it will add to the city life, like all other cities across the world.”
For now, Phanse and other civic officials are finalising the roads that will be pedestrianised. “We want to do a proper study of the roads before announcing them. We will study alternate traffic arrangements and consult residents and businesses,” he said.
The civic panel is also planning two other key interventions in the budget, based on the suggestions.
First, a special fund to preserve the city’s tree cover. “This allocation is meant to ensure the city’s rain trees, many of which have died, are protected by adapting certain measures. We need to find a solution to the issue and implement it,” Phanse said.
The second is to focus on the citizens’ repeated demand for better public transport. Phanse said a large number of suggestions were on the need to augment transportation facilities.
“While the BMC is directly not involved in handling public transport, we have decided to allocate Rs10 crore to BEST, asking it to lease out hybrid buses from the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC),” Phanse said, adding the civic body will ask BEST to employ these on busy routes.
Phanse will make amendments to the civic budget to include these decisions in the general body, when it meets to finalise the budget.