Todays Mumbai Mirror cover story on skywalks has so many gross factual mistakes that I have to comment –
“The three skywalks that come in the way of the second Metro line’s alignment are — Bandra (the Kalanagar arm), Khar and Vile Parle. The Bandra skywalk was the first to be built in the city. It is also the longest at 480 meters and perhaps the most used. The MMRDA spent close to Rs 42 crore on the three skywalks that will now be demolished.”
“A senior MMRDA officer, who did not wish to be identified, confirmed that there was no option but to sacrifice the three skywalks for the second Metro line.”
Whats going on here? There is no skywalk in Khar and it is the one in Santacruz which falls in the way. Again in Bandra there is a section on the SV Road and there is a section at Kalanagar. Is the whole length of the three skywalks costing 42 crores going to be demolished? Why is there no indication about the route of the metro? In Bandra there are clearly 3-4 different possibilities which will have zero to substantial impact on the skywalks.
Why such drastic quotes then? Its only a small portion (maybe a tenth) of the skywalk which will have to be dismantled to make way for the Metro. So maybe Rs. 10 crores is wasted?
“There is only one spot — Jog flyover — where the Metro rises above 6.5 metres. And here it rises way above the rest of the line at 17 metres, that’s as tall as a five-storied building, to take it across the flyover. “That is an exception on Metro’s first line. To do this at three spots on Metro II would be an impossibility,” said the officer.”
Will the Metro be required to go up by 17 meters at all the three spots if the skywalks have to be kept? If MMRDA is not mentioning it shouldnt the reporter/paper be commenting on this aspect? My reading is that from 5.5 meters the Metro may need to go a maximum of 8 meters on a few pillars. Cant this much be done for pedestrian convenience.
Explaining why nobody saw that these skywalks were in the way of Metro II alignment, the officer said that a large stretch of the second Metro line was supposed to be underground and so nobody noticed these impediments. “But the plans have changed now. The entire stretch is overground and yes we are encountering some difficulties.”
Anybody who is somebody in Mumbai knows since Adams that the suburban section was always meant to be overhead and there is a campaign going on against it. Rip van Winkle come lately? When the Bandra S V road section was coming up there was enough social discussion about what will happen once the metro comes about.
The demolition of the Bandra skywalk is going to be especially painful for the MMRDA. The agency spent Rs 3 crore repairing the elevated pathway just recently after a large part of it was damaged in the Garibnagar fire.
This really takes the prize. What got burnt and demolished in the fire was a 50 meter section of the Railway FOB, not the skywalk. And while I dont know the exact alignment yet there is just no way the Metro is passing over Bandra station. What going on in this report?
But then, skywalks seem to be losing favour with the government. Inaugurating the Barfiwala flyover in Andheri on Monday, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan questioned the logic of spending Rs 700 crore on these skywalks that, he said, are used by very few people. Average daily foot count for 23 skywalks in August 2010 was estimated at about 5,65,000.
Rs. 1600 crores for a sea link which deliver maybe 50000 cars a day and Rs.700 crores for 5,65,000 daily footfalls? Whats the math? Why do a lot of newspaper reports look like somebody’s private insiduos agenda being played out? The question if it should be asked is – does it cost so much to build so many skywalks or the prices are inflated? But that of course we cannot speak about. Almost everybody who is a regular user of skywalks will vouch for the convenience they are bringing – whatever are the valid and invalid criticisms against them.
It is important that Mumbai Mirror issue some clarifications.