Sunday, May 10, 2009

Skywalks - Changing the face of Mumbai

Mumbai – The Maximum city. The city is growing at the speed of lighting. The huge playgrounds we played cricket on a few years ago, have now mothered malls and multiplexes. The countryside we visited a weekend spots, like Nerul and Titwala, have now become hotspots for Townships. I remember one ‘Parsi Kuwa’ in our area – story that it was a home to Parsi ghosts and where we dreaded to go after sundown, is now a town ship. I remember how we dared our friends for a bottle of ‘Pepsi’ to visit the location in the night time!! Now, I guess, the ghosts would be hunting for a new location for themselves. I would recommend that they go really far from this city, looking at the rate at which the city is growing, it would extend its limits to the neighboring metros like Pune.

The fallout of this growth is that now we can see regular traffic congestion at every traffic junction, there is always crowd on the FOBs, the trains are packed and are bursting with commuters. Now these are the kind of complaints that I regularly had against the governing body. And I wished for a miracle to change the face of the city and relieve me of the trauma and suffering that I go through everyday while commuting everyday. Now, I can say here that the face of the Mumbai, on the map of India is already special, because of the planning done by the planning authorities like MMRDA, MSRDC, BMC, MHADA, CIDCO Etc). In this blog, I will discuss the 50 Skywalks that are being built all over the city.

I believe the skywalks are the first step towards a mature city. Transport interchange activities, passenger transfer between trains, buses, taxies & Private vehicles make the station area most congested. The problem aggravates with the road side hawking and vehicular parking. The Sky walk is an elevated walk way dedicated to the pedestrians connecting the rly. Station/ high concentration commercial area and destination points where concentration of pedestrians prevail. The purpose of the sky walks is to manage the crowd and help them to provide them a dedicated passage through these areas.

What catches the eye is that, the success of the first sky walk. It is a unique model. Footpaths will be replaced by skywalks near the station areas. That gives us the feel of what will be the situation after all the skywalks are built. I have been to all the metros of this country. But never ever have I seen infrastructures coming up so speedily and on such a huge scale. Of course, there are exceptions, like the Delhi metro or the Kolkata Bridge over Howrah. But they are very few.

The other day I had been on the Bandra (East) skywalk and found the experience very pleasant, specially when you see the traffic on the road below and you have space to walk on the skywalk. The journey from Bandra station to Kalanagar Exit took only 10 mins, where as the same journey would have taken more than 15 mins if I had taken the footpaths on the road. Moreover, I would have to dodge the traffic (specifically, the inconsiderate auto rickshaw drivers!!!) all the way. I would have had to cross the roads 3 times, once the highway also. If you look at the picture below, you will understand what I mean to say.

Now, when I compare the same journey with the journey on the skywalk, the difference is clearly seen. I have also be to Kanjurmarg skywalk, which is also on the similar lines.

The benefits of skywalks which I found

  1. It was relatively clean, although, at some places it was dirty with spits marks.
  2. It is wide and spacious
  3. It is relatively covered, although I have my doubt that won’t be able to protect the users from rains. MMRDA would have thought for that also, so we will have to wait and watch till the monsoons arrive.
  4. The skywalks give a very special view of the area around. But I do not know, if we will get any view after the advertisements will be placed all around the skywalk. In fact, I even doubt that we will be able to get the similar luminosity after the boarding have been placed on the skywalks. Presently, it is open and bright.
  5. There are 5 entry/exits. So we can alight were ever we want to in between. Also, the skywalks can be used for short distances.
  6. All the skywalks start and end on the Railway FOB. That effectively means I don’t have to climb extra stairs to get on to the skywalk. I have to just continue to walk till I reach my destination and then disembark. (although, in some cases, I may have to climb stairs to get on to a skywalk, but I feel it will be worth, cause I avoid the congested traffic roads)
  7. There have been provisions made for installing Elevators for the handicapped. So, even the handicapped can use the skywalks easily.
  8. There are also provisions for toilets at some entry/exits. (The MMRDA has gone into details, ah….!!!!)

There is still a lot of scope for improvement

  1. There need to be spittoons/waste bins on the sky walks at regular intervals. The sky has been in use for months now, and on one has even thought about installing waste bins till now. These are the basic necessities that need to be taken care of. Overall Maintainance is required.

  2. There can be some PCOs at regular intervals also.
  3. There needs to be some kind of security arrangements on the skywalk. Although, I saw a few guards on duty (4-5), but it needs to be complimented with CCTV cameras. Now a day, even the railways have CCTVs installed all over their FOB. So, this premium installation should have state of the art CCTV systems installed.
  4. Some of the skywalks are as long as 1.5 – 1.8 kms from start to end. So, having a few cold drinks vending machines/ outlets will help.

With the skywalks coming all over the city, I am sure, there will be effective control of pedestrian traffic near the station areas. And having infrastructure facilities like these make the city - “The Maximum City”. Although, the construction of skywalks have given nightmares to the existing commuters, but it is temporary phase. On the arrival of monsoons, it will be even worse. But, I guess, some hardships have to be borne, to have a better tomorrow. Only after its completion, will we realize what we missed all these years. With still some more infrastructures coming up, like the Bandra Worli sea link, the face of the city will completely change. The skywalks will give the city a major and a much needed face lift. What do you say?


Sachin said...

I hope that in coming years, Mumbai will be a different place altogether in the history.
Mumbai, the financial capital of India should become the financial spot of the World.
IiG (India is Great).

PC said...

Skywalk's are surely a good idea. While the government has started work, the responsibility equally lies with the citizens to take care and protect any property - skywalk or anything else. Indians are used to taking things for granted, so for these skywalks to be maintained over the years, there has to be strict rules and laws in place. Else it wont be long before they fall prey to vandals.

Liftplus said...

Thanks for the post, it was interesting to read!

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