A DAY after a 31-year-old software engineer was allegedly beaten to death over a parking dispute, the Pune Traffic Police have called upon the Regional Transport Office “to think seriously” before registering a vehicle that has no parking facility. On Saturday, Neval Bomi Battiwala, a resident of Sahani Sujan Park in Lulla Nagar, was allegedly thrashed with an iron rod when he objected to frequent parking of tourist vehicles outside his bungalow. Three persons were arrested in connection with the case and an offence of murder has been lodged at the Kondhwa police station.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (traffic) Ashok Morale said, “The murder of a resident over the parking of tourist vehicles highlights the fact that the parking problem is worsening by the day in Pune. We can’t just say that the issue in future will become serious. In fact, it has already become serious…” “Vehicles that have no parking facilities are getting registered. And the number is getting bigger. We believe that the RTO should think seriously before registering a vehicle which has no parking facility. We know the Motor Vehicles Act does not make it mandatory. But at least the RTO should make the owner of the vehicles think on the lines of having parking facility,” he added.
However, the RTO said it was helpless regarding avoiding registration of such vehicles. “We can’t help. Under the Motor Vehicles Act, it is not mandatory to have a parking facility for a vehicle before registering it,” said Deputy RTO Sanjay Raut. He added, “The engineer’s murder highlights how, whether it is a parking issue or vehicles brushing against each other, commuters are getting flared up in no time and charging at each other.”
Asked about the traffic police’s suggestion regarding avoiding registration of such vehicles, Raut said, “We would have done that, but the law does not permit. We know that several of the vehicles that come for registration do not have a parking facility, but we cannot deny them registration. The Motor Vehicles Act does not have a provision regarding this…” Morale said, “When people do not have a parking facility, they park their vehicles on public roads… This leads to traffic jams on narrow roads, highways or other arterial roads.”
Civic activist Prashant Inamdar said that besides avoiding registration of a vehicle that has no parking facility, the RTO should also set a quota for registering vehicles. “Currently, 400 to 500 vehicles are registered per day, making it close to two lakh vehicles every year. Already, there are 35 lakh vehicles in Pune city. If we take the figures of Pimpri-Chinchwad and the vehicles streaming in from outside the city, the number goes beyond 50 lakh. Should an already congested city where traffic jams are the order of the day take such a huge load of vehicles?” he asked.
Another activist Shridhar Chalkha said, “…vehicles that do not have parking space should be turned away or kept waiting till they announce it.” Inamdar added, “Even if the rules do not make it mandatory to have a parking space before buying a vehicle, the RTO and traffic police should at least apprise the state and central governments about the importance of such a provision.” Morale, meanwhile, said the civic bodies of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad were planning a parking policy.
“The civic bodies have conveyed to us that they would soon introduce a parking facility that focusses pay-and-park areas. This will ease the situation…,” he added. Inamdar agreed, adding, “However, corporators have been rejecting the pay-and-park policies. The fear that their voters will get annoyed. They should look at the larger picture…”