Mismanagement & Neglect Plague Mumbai’s Skywalks, Citizens Decry Wasted Funds | FPJ
Mumbai: The squandering of taxpayers’ money and the neglect of public infrastructure have come under scrutiny as citizens raise alarm over the deplorable state of more than 15 skywalks across Mumbai. Despite the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) being tasked with maintaining these vital pedestrian bridges, reports indicate widespread dissatisfaction with their upkeep and safety measures.
Constructed initially by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), these skywalks were later entrusted to BMC’s care. However, a litany of grievances has emerged from residents, ranging from inadequate lighting and security to rampant encroachments and criminal activities.
Bainganwadi Junction skywalk in Govandi
One such example is the Bainganwadi Junction skywalk in Govandi, which residents describe as perilous after dusk due to its lack of lighting and safety features. Shaikh Faiyyaz Alam of Govandi Citizens Welfare expressed dismay over the authorities’ inaction despite repeated complaints, highlighting the bridge’s strategic location vis-à-vis the local ward office.
Vedant Mhatre from the Walking Project echoed concerns about poorly designed skywalks, citing instances of substandard paneling and impractical placement parallel to railway lines. The dire condition of Wadala’s skywalk, marred by encroachments and drug-related activities, stands as a stark example of neglect, contrasting with the well-maintained Dombivali Railway Station skywalk.
Issue of safety for women
Mrs. Teli, a regular commuter from Sion, emphasized the importance of ensuring proper utilization of skywalks in Mumbai. She underscored the necessity for barriers at crossings, similar to those at CSMT, to encourage pedestrians to use skywalks instead of risking their safety on the roads or on structures like the Himalaya bridge. She highlighted the prevalent issue of safety for women, noting numerous incidents of molestation even during daylight hours. To address this the installation of helpline numbers on prominent boards for immediate assistance. Surprise visits by local police to skywalks will also help to ensure public safety.
Despite BMC’s claims of regular maintenance, recent demolitions of skywalks in Vidya Vihar, Bandra East, and Vile Parle raise questions about the adequacy of their efforts. Chief Engineer of Bridges, Vivek Kalyankar, asserts that all skywalks under BMC jurisdiction are diligently repaired and surveyed biannually, with any reported issues promptly addressed.
Upon visiting various skywalk locations, the Free Press Journal discovered alarming conditions that have rendered these structures more akin to lover’s points than safe pedestrian pathways. Vikhroli’s P Soman Marg Skywalk, for instance, is shrouded in darkness as it lacks proper electrification, creating a hazardous environment for walkers. This neglect has transformed the skywalk into a haven for couples seeking privacy, while broken bottles of beer litter the pathway, serving as evidence of illicit activities. Additionally, the bridge has become a smoking zone, further compromising public safety.
Lack of lighting
Similarly, the skywalk at Vikhroli Station West suffers from the same lack of lighting, exacerbating safety concerns, especially during nighttime. The poorly maintained infrastructure, with overgrown grass and individuals sleeping on the bridge, underscores the urgent need for maintenance and security measures.
Meanwhile, encroachments on the Sion Skywalk outside the railway station have further exacerbated safety concerns, with some individuals making the bridge their makeshift homes. Despite repeated complaints, no action has been taken by authorities, leaving pedestrians with no choice but to brave heavy vehicular traffic on the main roads.
The Eastern Suburbs of Mumbai, despite being equipped with skywalks, offer little respite to pedestrians who opt for the perilous main roads due to the dilapidated state of these elevated pathways. Locals express disappointment over the authorities’ failure to address these pressing issues, highlighting the urgent need for intervention to ensure the safety and well-being of Mumbai’s residents.