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Home / Mumbai News / Mumbai’s footpaths: Citizen participation can make a difference

Mumbai’s footpaths: Citizen participation can make a difference

mumbai Updated: Feb 15, 2020 00:32 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustantimes

shrinivas.deshpande@htlive.com

While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has not been able to maintain the footpaths, citizens, experts and activists have handled the responsibility well in several parts of the city, Hindustan Times found during its audit of footpaths across the city.

As part of the series highlighting the state of footpaths in the city, HT approached citizen groups and activists for solutions to encroachments, illegal parking of bikes and bad condition. They pointed out several instances where people’s participation had helped keep walkways in good condition.

One such example is the Worli sea face area, where the footpaths were built and are maintained in consultation with the Worli Walkers’ Association (WWA). Members of WWA keep an eye on the footpaths daily and report any damage to the ward officer.

Similar people participation model was found in Dadar, where ward officers, with the help of locals, keep footpaths hawkers-free.

Prashant Pathak, convener of citizens’ forum, G North Ward, said, “We have formed a dedicated footpath-related WhatsApp group with civic officers, in which we put our complaints with photos. They are addressed within one or two working days. We don’t need to call any officer or write to any authority. This model should be implemented in every ward.”

Some citizen activists feel the responsibility of maintenance of footpaths is of the contractors. The civic body just needs to be strict about compliance with the norms related to the defect liability period and hold contractors responsible for bad condition of footpaths.

Citizen forums also feel the civic body should build more paid parking and hawking zones. Aditi Jain, president of Cuffe Parade Residents Association (CPRA), said, “There is a need to move hawkers to designated zones near commercial establishments, so they can earn a living, even as the footpaths remain free.”

They also insisted on formation of a ‘footpath authority’ to build and maintain footpaths. They said there was a need to look at a ‘ground-up approach’, where local ALMs or NGOs should be given the power to maintain and build footpaths and the BMC can reimburse them.

What the prominent Mumbaikars have to say about condition of footpaths in Mumbai?

Vivek Pai Urban Transport Planner Vile Parle

Q. What is the present condition of footpaths in your area?

A. The condition of footpaths in my residential area (Vile Parle East) is very bad. Footpaths are non-existent in many areas or due to parking or hawkers they have been encroached. We have tried to get it rectified but there has not been much progress.

Q What is your experience about walking on footpaths?

A.See,if there is no footpath available,we have to take a road to walk and which increases chances of conflicts in between pedestrians and commuters.Yes many times I have seen pedestrians tend to break into fights with hawkers.

Q.What are your suggestions to deal with this problem?

A.We need to have a dedicated Footpath Authority responsible for construction and maintenance of footpaths. Also we need to look at ground up approach where local ALM or NGOs should be given the power to maintain and build footpaths and the BMC can reimburse them for the expenses.

DM Sukthankar, former Mumbai civic chief,Worli

Q.What is the present condition of footpaths in your area?

A.Footpaths in our Worli,specifically in the Worli seaface area has been built, paved and maintained by the civic body extremely well.Thank You to hawkers,there is no any hawkers problem in our region.Worli Walkers Association (WWA). WWA is a local citizen’s body set an example how participation of people helps to solve issues with the help of civic body.

Q What is your experience about walking on footpaths?

A. It always feels good to walk on well maintained footpaths and it is enjoyed daily by hundreds of walkers.If there is any certain kind of encroachments then Worli Walkers Association (WWA) a local citizen’s body with the help of civic authority cleared it immediately.Association constantly in contact with the ward office.And with the help of civic officers they are maintaining footpaths clean and walkers friendly.

Q.What are your suggestions to deal with this problem?

A.WWA is a local citizen’s body set an example of how participation of people helps to solve issues with the help of civic body. BMC should keep its effort and will be well advised to continue to consult the local association of walkers at respective ward periodically.

Ashok Datar, Transport analyst, Island City

Q. What is the present condition of footpaths in your area?

A. There are frequently encroached with squatter, and semi permanent Hawking stalls. The are also not continuous and are punctured every now and then with entrances of shops, buildings. They are too narrow for pedestrians to walk safely.

Q What is your experience about walking on footpaths?

A) I do not feel confident walking on the footpaths around me. Every experience is like giving an exam, with uncertainty of the outcome. I have experienced that when I walk, I am constantly putting my head down to watch my step, instead of looking forward to see what I might bump into.

Q.What are your suggestions to deal with this problem?

A) We need to look at the problem holistically, and treat the experience our footpaths give to pedestrians with priority. only when we have good footpaths, will we be able to achieve the other goals we plan as a city, such as promoting use of public transport, reducing use of private vehicles and reducing congestion, and discouraging illegal parking.

Corporators speak

Rais Shaikh, Samajwadi Party

Q.What is the solution and problem to freeing footpaths in our city?

A. I feel it’s all in the way we design our footpaths in the city. The basic problem is that we only think of road design, and not of footpath when designing or constructing a road. Footpaths are made after roads are built in the space that is remaining, but I feel footpaths should be designed by giving equal importance that of road. Also, there are various complex problems and issues relating to planning and several are man-made.

Q.Whose responsibility is it to ensure footpaths are not encroached again and again? Civic body claims its a continuous process.

A. I feel that it’s obviously BMC’s responsibility to ensure that the footpaths are free of obstructions. And for this we can have road engineers in charge of the the footpaths too who have to ensure that the roads they handle have footpaths free of encroachment.

Q.What is that you have done in your ward or the city to ensure the footpath experience of citizens is better?

A. What I have done in my ward is that citizens and stakeholders participate to ensure there’s proper planning for footpaths. If there’s a school, mosque or housing society I involve them during the planning stage of projects that will affect them or be used by them. This way we can have projects user friendly.

Vishakha Raut Shiv Sena

Q.What is the solution and problem to freeing footpaths in our city?

A.We constantly suggesting that,ducting should be done to maintain the level of the footpaths in the city.Many companies like BEST,Reliance,MTNL,BSNL were responsible for digging and disturbing the level of footpaths.Hence ducting is important.Along with that specific timing should be given to hawkers to use footpaths so that during peak hours footpaths remains hawkers free.

Q.Whose responsibility is it to ensure footpaths are not encroached again and again? Civic body claims its a continuous process.

A.Off course to build and maintain footpaths is the responsibility of BMC.But along with BMC,respective ward officers,engineers,corporators and public are also important.Without participation of public nothing will happen.

Q.What is that you have done in your ward or the city to ensure the footpath experience of citizens is better?

A.Footpath issue is not only restricted to my ward. Already we have informed all our corporators to take efforts for pedestrian friendly footpaths.Recently in my ward on Manorama Nagarkar road,Baburao Parulekar Marg,BMC administration has identified certain spots where hawkers will be allowed.But we are opposing because administration has not keep us in loop during entire process.And these are main area,hawers on these road will create traffic disturbance.

Ravi Raja, Congress

Q.What is the solution and problem to freeing footpaths in our city?

A.Policy of Congress party is that footpaths should be there and footpaths should be in good condition so that people can walk properly.For pedestrian friendly footpaths we need to create special hawkers zone so that they will not encroach footpaths anywhere. Along with that traffic police should take strong action against illegal parking on footpaths.

Q.Whose responsibility is it to ensure footpaths are not encroached again and again? Civic body claims it’s a continuous process.

A.As I told you its civic body’s responsibility to create seperate hawkers zones so that they will avoid encroachment on footpaths.

Q.What is that you have done in your ward or the city to ensure the footpath experience of citizens is better?

A.With the help of civic officers and respective engineers we regularly keep footpaths in our area in good conditions.If there is any problem then people can directly contact me and we are trying to solve the problem as early as possible.

Manoj Kotak, BJP

Q.What is the solution and problem to freeing footpaths in our city?

A.Hawkers and illegal parking is the major concern for the bad condition of footpaths in the city.Also there is no mechanism to check quality of material used during building of footpaths.BMC also assures that hawkers and parking will not be allowed on footpaths.

Q.Whose responsibility is it to ensure footpaths are not encroached again and again? Civic body claims it’s a continuous process.

A.Yes,it’s BMC’s responsibility.Yes hawkers and illegal parking is a continuous process for which you need permanent solution.Along with BMC we have instructed all of our corporators to concentrate on the condition of footpaths in respective areas and keep footpaths in your area encroachment free.

Q.What is that you have done in your ward or the city to ensure the footpath experience of citizens is better?

A.According to me,people’s participation plays a major role in solving civic issues.With the help of people we have maintained footpaths in our area.We had conducted many awareness session to avoid parking on footpaths.