After building several skywalks, most of which are not even used by pedestrians, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has decided to drop them from its list of infrastructure projects.
The development body said it will neither build new skywalks nor maintain the existing ones. Instead, it will focus on major infrastructure projects including the metro, flyovers and link roads to improve connectivity in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
A senior MMRDA official, who did not wish to be named, said “Ideally, skywalks should be taken up by civic agencies. Now, we have informed them that the MMRDA will not build any new skywalk and maintenance of the skywalks in their jurisdictions will have to be looked after the respective agency.”
Interestingly, MMRDA has not made any allocation for skywalks or any other pedestrian project in its annual financial budget.
About eight years ago, the development agency had planned to build 56 skywalks across the MMR, but it could complete just 39 following a poor response from pedestrians and advertisers.
MMRDA has already handed over the upkeep of 23 skywalks in Mumbai to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Earlier, the MMRDA would spend nearly Rs2.5 crore annually on their maintenance.
The skywalks connect the suburban railway stations with heavily targeted destinations so pedestrian could skip crowd in commercial areas around the stations. It also supposed to help in effective dispersal of commuters strategic locations such as bus stops, taxi stands, shopping areas and vice versa.
The MMRDA had expected to earn significant revenue by selling advertisement rights on skywalks. However, the plan failed to attract enough advertisers, thus losing chances of earning any substantial revenue.
Three years ago, the MMRDA had mulled revival of the skywalk plan with incorporation of pedestrian friendly design. However, the plan could not be executed.