Nearly a year after the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) decided to pedestrianise the Kalaghoda precinct on weekends and introduce a range of street activities, the plan is gathering dust.
In its bid to promote arts and culture on the streets of Mumbai and create public spots for socialisation, the MTDC had decided to experiment with crescent-shaped Kalaghoda precinct first. The plan is to close the precinct from about 6.30-7 pm on weekends up to midnight, improve the existing street furniture, light up the facades of the heritage buildings there, and encourage a range of street activities.
An MTDC official who did not wish to be named said, “There has been absolutely no progress on the plan yet. During our discussions with various stakeholders while planning, we got unofficial feedback that police permissions could be difficult to get from the traffic point of view. The project gradually went on the back burner.”
Officials said there was a concern that closing the street for vehicles might hamper traffic coming from the Eastern freeway. Also, with there being a synagogue, a church and a court in the vicinity, the kind of street activities that can be permitted would have had to be carefully deliberated on, they said.
Originally, the Union government had envisioned a grand plan for the Kalaghoda square to be implemented with Maharashtra’s tourism department in phases, with Rs 5 crore sanctioned for the first phase. The plan involved erecting large billboards for advertisements and videos, high-resolution cameras to transmit live images of people in the area on a screen, and live Internet streaming. However, the plan met with a huge thumbs down with residents, activists and conservationists in unison saying that such flashy activities would spoil the heritage value of the Kalaghoda precinct, prompting the government to drop these elements and simply focus on pedestrianising the area.
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