After observing that a “parking mafia” is active in the city, with vehicles being parked illegally on the roads and fees charged by unauthorised persons in various parts of the city, the traffic police department has decided to crack down on them in a phased manner.
The Indian Express had earlier highlighted that the vehicular population of Pune has reported a worrying 30 per cent rise from 30 lakh to around 39 lakh in just over three years, putting a considerable strain on the city’s roads and the already limited parking space.
A senior officer from the traffic control branch said: “We have observed that at several places parking fees are collected on both sides of the road but upon further probe found that the local bodies had not given any contract for it. It has been observed that some local musclemen with criminal background collect the money from people by letting them park in these areas. We have started collecting information on such cases and will soon launch a crackdown on them.”
Chaitanya Mahabal, a resident of Hadapsar who works in Camp area, said, “I have faced this problem at several places in Camp. When I tried asking if the people collecting money had any authority letter or document, these people just behaved arrogantly and asked us to park at some other place.”
Another officer from the traffic branch said: “At several places in and around the Camp area, we have found that tourist companies park their vehicles after midnight, leaving no place for residents to park the next morning. And these vehicles remain parked at such places for days together.”
The officer added: “Also, several hotels and shopping malls charge money for parking spaces, forcing people to park their vehicles outside their premises.”
RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar said: “Every establishment, right from a government office to a coaching class, has to take care of the parking for vehicles belonging to the people coming there. But this parking racket has become a way to earn money for several criminals and politically connected people. There is a lot of corruption and irregularities in the way these contracts are given. Along with land and sand mafia, parking mafia is also active in Pune. Steps are needed to be taken by civic bodies and the police.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Sarang Awad said: “We have identified this problem and have also started collecting information about it. We have started taking action in some of the cases. For example, we have already fined some hotel owners who were using roads and even small alleys for valet parking and not allowing other residents to use the place. We will be dealing with all these cases.”
Awad added: “Another way of dealing with the problem is putting in P1 and P2 parking restrictions. But all the efforts in this direction need to be coordinated with help from the local bodies.”