Ensure Footpaths in Mumbai Are Walkable, Clear Encroachments by Hawkers: HC Tells BMC

The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to ensure that the footpaths in the city are “actually walkable” for pedestrians and directed it to remove encroachments by unlicensed hawkers.

A division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale directed the BMC to file an affidavit by March 1 identifying specific problems and indicating the solutions it would offer to deal with the issue.

The high court had earlier this year taken up suo motu (on its own) the issue of unauthorised hawkers and stalls on footpaths in the city.

The BMC’s counsel S U Kamdar on Monday informed the court that several such hawkers were being removed by the corporation and specific hawking zones were being established to address the issue of encroachments.

The bench, while appreciating the steps being taken, noted that because of such hawkers, footpaths in the city have become narrow and most of them cannot be used by pedestrians.

“We need to ensure there are footpaths available for pedestrians, which are actually walkable. There are authorised or unauthorised structures on footpaths. The result is that because the footpath is narrow, pedestrians face difficulty,” Justice Patel said.

The court further said that the BMC must implement rules to make footpaths disabled-friendly and to ensure that elderly people can walk on them without any hassles.

“One of the bigger problems is paver blocks. They keep on coming out and popping out and causing problems to pedestrians. We do not know what the technical difficulties are, but someone from the engineering department needs to look into this. Even senior citizens stumble despite walking with sticks. You should make the footpath accessible,” the court said.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on March 3.

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