Observing that walking on footpaths is the right of citizens and it is being taken away by car owners, the Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the state government on issues relating to haphazard parking and increasing number of vehicular traffic in Mumbai.
Justices N H Patil and A S Gadkari were hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Janhit Manch seeking regulation of traffic in Mumbai in view of increasing number of vehicles and haphazard parking of vehicles causing nuisance to public at large.
While observing that restricting the sale of cars could not be done without understanding the law, the court suggested, “If a person is allowed to purchase a car, he or she must give assurance about providing parking space before the vehicle is registered.”
“A person can buy 50 cars. It is their right to do so but you cannot allow them to park on the road. Have you thought what your 5-year plan is?” the HC asked.
The state government’s advocate J S Saluja stated that they had been towing away vehicles which were not parked in the parking zone and collected Rs 25 crore as fine in the past five years.
“Charging revenue is not the solution. What happens to the ordinary people? They must have safe roads and footpaths. Walking on footpaths is the right of the citizens which is being taken away by car owners,” the HC said.
Mumbai has the worst traffic management with the city planners pointing at a scenario with the roads blocked with double lane parking. Recently another group has approached courts over hike of parking fare with the BMC revising fares.
Emphasising on the practices followed by other countries, the HC said that pedestrians were looked at with a lot of respect abroad but in India, a person with a car was given that respect.
“You are snatching away pedestrian’s right to walk and your answer to that is that you are charging fines and taxes?” the court said. Saluja, while informing the court about facilities provided for pedestrians, said that skywalks had been constructed all across the city.
The court, meanwhile, also remarked, “Skywalks have been made but no one uses them. They are in a precarious condition. They are useless for a person above 65 years of age. After 8 pm, it is very difficult for the common man, especially women, to use these skywalks.” The court has now asked the state counsel to take instructions from the officers of departments concerned regarding this issue and combine all the petitions relating to parking and traffic in the city of Mumbai.
“The traffic official figures say that the city has seen a nine-fold increase in parking offences in the past five years. An RTI application by activist Chetan Kothari revealed that the number of parking offences had jumped from 36,206 in 2005, to 3,22,932 in 2009,” the PIL stated.