The construction of the 18-crore Bhandup skywalk has encountered a roadblock because a politician does not want a flight of stairs built near his property. The Rs 18-crore public project would help 2.5 lakh commuters get in and out of the Bhandup railway station more easily.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has so far constructed a 240-metre arm of the skywalk and was hoping to throw it open to pedestrians by making a staircase close to the Patil Estate, owned by the family of National Congress Party Member of Parliament Sanjay Patil.
However, MMRDA officials allege they haven’t been able to make the landing as Patil has objected to the proposed staircase falling in an area close to his property.
When contacted, Patil said he was not opposed to the skywalk and work on the project was held up because of clearances required form the railway authorities.
However, Patil said he was opposed to the landing coming up near the Patil Estate.
“Where is the need to have a landing so close to the station. Will people climb stairs to cover a 150-metre distance? MMRDA officials are blaming me to hide their inefficiency,” Patil added. The 630-metre skywalk connects Bhandup railway station and Tank Road.
The MMRDA had proposed three staircases along the bridge, for easier access — at Tank Road, at Dream Mall at LBS Marg and near Patil Estate.
“Having landings at short distances will benefit commuters who can get on and off at short distances. Now commuters will have to trudge all the way till Dream Mall if they want to get off the skywalk,” Pahal added.
MMRDA officials say Patil had been informed of the planned staircase and had initially supported the project. “We received Mr Patil’s support when we started executing the project. There is a problem now on where the landing should be constructed. We hope to sort these issues out soon,” MMRDA’s Additional Chief Engineer Anand Pahal said.
MMRDA was hoping to throw open this arm of the skywalk to commuters by end of 2009.
But with Patil opposing the landing, officials say they will have to wait until the construction till Dream Mall is over which will take an additional three months.
“We are facing problems from certain quarters over the landing. The landing is on public property and we are trying to find a way that allows commuters to use the skywalk soon,” says Joint Metropolitan Commissioner Ashwini Bhide.