Opened to the public on October 15th this year, the ITO Skywalk in Delhi has been Delhi Public Works Department’s (PWD) proud projects. In August 2018, the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia called the skywalk “a pride for people of Delhi”.
“(It) will also give major relief to the people. It will connect several junctions around the area, helping around 30,000 pedestrians every day”, said Sisodia, addressing the media. However, while the officials have declared it a new-age wonder, the sky is not entirely clear. The skywalk has its own set of glitches. So, what is the entire picture like?
The ITO Skywalk: Salient features
With its construction finishing in a little over one year, the ITO skywalk in Delhi is one of a kind. It has been conceptualized to help pedestrians along Mathura Road, Sikandra Road, Tilak Marg, and Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, featuring multiple entry/exit points. Here are a few highlighting features of Delhi’s very own skywalk:
a. Delhi’s largest foot-over bridge, it is 570m long.
b. The plan for the bridge was first introduced in 2003, construction began in 2017.
c. Starting from Pragati Maidan, it has a total of 7 entry/exit points.
d. The ITO skywalk has been built with an approximate cost of Rs 54 crores.
e. It is said to have lifts, wi-fi, CCTV cameras etc.
How does the connectivity work?
From its starting point (Pragati Maidan), the skywalk further extends into three arms. One arm will take the pedestrians from the metro station to gate number 9 of Pragati Maidan. Out of the remaining two, one will go till the entry gate of Tilak Lane railway station, while the other will open at ITO.
While expected to ease commutation of about 30-40,000 pedestrians every day, the skywalk will also reduce safety concerns. Fundings for the skywalk were provided by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, constructed by the PWD.
Map of the ITO Skywalk
Controversies Regarding ITO Skywalk in Delhi
Even before the inauguration, the ITO skywalk in Delhi was being publicized as a major spot of attraction- providing relief to the daily commuters. The expected footfall was estimated at least 30,000 every day. However, post its inauguration, even the combined football of the first few days was far away from the stated figure.
Despite some improvement in the next few days, the officials have admitted that the footfall is significantly lower than was expected. Given the high-cost, the authorities have an increasing pressure to make sure that the ‘historic’ skywalk doesn’t fall to the same fortune as hundreds of foot-over bridges in the city.
Going in a different direction, there is also a growing concern about the misuse of the skywalk. Several foot-over bridges, for instance, are used by two-wheelers more than pedestrians, often as a short-cut. Many of the bridges are littered by the passers-by, several being used as an unofficial parking spot.
First, the Signature bridge and now the ITO Skywalk in Delhi – both are being considered the capital’s major projects, or gifts to the public. However, days after the inauguration, the Signature bridge has already fallen prey to mistreatment by the public, and the state of the skywalk doesn’t look too good, either. If proper measures are not undertaken, the skywalk might become yet another public property fallen into untimely desolation.
Secondly, the public itself needs to start owning up to the responsibility of treating public spaces better. The authorities on their own cannot accomplish anything unless backed up by willing citizens. These are our cities, our country, after all.