From the next financial year, BMC will begin a survey to identify roads in the city that are more than nine meters wide but without footpaths.
The announcement was made in the recently released civic budget (2023-24), in which the civic chief said they will map out footpath facilities for all major roads, and wherever one is absent or in bad shape, a new cement concrete footpath with “smooth walking quality and international surface designs will be constructed in a fast-track mode”.
BMC roads department also said urban road designers will design these footpaths. “They will be a pleasure to walk for the citizens of Mumbai,” it said.
A token provision of Rs200 crore has been kept for this work, said I S Chahal in his budget speech. A civic official said they would take the help of ward staff to identify these stretches. “This is aimed at improving footpaths to facilitate wider public mobility,” said the official.
Chahal said this policy was incorporated in the budget this year, after taking inputs from citizens, who proposed making footpaths pedestrian-friendly and encroachment-free. Prior to the budget, BMC had invited public suggestions on what could be incorporated. This came in the absence of elected representatives as the term of corporators ended in March 2022.
However, some termed this policy as old wine in a new bottle. Former Bandra corporator Asif Zakaria said in the past too policies like ‘pedestrian first’ were announced in civic budgets, but saw poor implementation.
“These announcements come and go, but there is little difference on the ground. Today, in the name of beautification, we are finding well-done footpaths being broken and remade as officials want to maintain uniformity. We should find out next year how many of the footpaths were improved by making use of this Rs200 crore fund,” said Zakaria.
In November 2022, Bombay high court had taken suo motu cognizance of “encroachments on public access ways and footpaths” while hearing a petition by two Borivli shop-owners on illegal hawkers on the footpath, obstructing access to their mobile phone gallery.
Earlier this week too, the HC told BMC to ensure that footpaths in the city are “actually walkable” for pedestrians and directed it to remove encroachments by unlicensed hawkers.