A full-fledged integrated plan for central Mumbai, along with improved facilities for pedestrians, formed the crux of the expert solutions to tackle the problems in this coveted business hub, which once housed several textile mills.
Hindustan Times, along with professor Akhtar Chauhan, director, Rizvi College of Architecture and AV Shenoy, member, Mumbai Transport Forum (MTF) outlined the changes that can still be brought about in this area.
Chauhan said the first step is to conduct a detailed survey of the area, identify the problems and prepare a plan for transport, housing and pedestrian issues. He suggested, given the current scarcity of space where new roads cannot be created, the best solution will be to go underground. “We need to now build underground Metro rails and also create underground public parking spaces,” said Chauhan. “In addition we need to create an elevated BRTS (Bus Rapid Transport System),” said Chauhan.
Both the experts outlined the need to create localised solutions to solve the problems. This includes a local monorail. “This monorail can move from Parel station to Lower Parel, Worli and then back to Parel. It does not take up much space and can move parallel to the existing roads,” said Shenoy.
The area was known for its textile mills till 1982 when the infamous strike rendered lakhs of workers jobless. The experts said like the erstwhile mill owners of the pre-independence era who accommodated their workers in chawls near the workplaces, the state government needs to ensure affordable houses are created around the officers in the area. “If people get houses here itself, the burden of transportation will reduce,” said Chauhan.
Shenoy said if the illegal parking on Senapati Bapat Marg is shut down, the entire stretch from Dadar to Lower Parel will free up considerably.
The area will soon see a surge in parking spaces because many of the construction projects here have been granted additional FSI (Floor Space Index) to build public parking spaces in their premises. “We need to get strict on the issue of illegal parking and levy fines. This will automatically force motorists to park in these designated places,” said Shenoy.
For Shenoy, it is the pedestrians who ultimately pay the price for the bad planning. “Footpaths need to be leveled and interconnected,” said Shenoy.
Chauhan also suggested authorities should start cycle services and build cycle-friendly infrastructure in the area so commuters can ride to work from railway stations. “It will provide a faster, healthier and cheaper alternative to commuters and will also reduce congestion,” Chauhan said.