The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) finalised the finer aspects of the parking policy during an internal meeting held on May 22. However, the suggestions put up by South Mumbai residents during a discussion with Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta last month have not found any mention in the policy. Dismissing one of the primary pleas made by the residents to reduce the tariff for residential areas, the civic administration stated that the rates were part of the policy and could not be altered without the approval of the entire general body. The residents from areas like Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Fort, Marine Drive and Nariman Point had made a list of suggestions to address the flaws of the parking policy in the form of a memorandum which they had submitted to Mehta on April 20. The residents had pointed out that the policy lacks inputs and coordination from the traffic police or the Mumbai police.
The residents had proposed that the tariff rates of Rs 2,000 per month be reduced to Rs 560 per month instead. Civic officials, however, said that the tariff rates were reasonable and could not be altered at this point. “The rates were fixed in the policy before it was approved in the corporation. Now, there is no scope for change since the policy will then have to get the approval of the general body,” said Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner of A ward.
The residents had also proposed that all parking for residential areas be converted into 24-hour parking slots instead of a 12-hour cycle which has not been accepted by the BMC either. “Till now, people have been parking on the roads which is a privilege. But now that parking will be regulated, 24-hour parking cannot be allowed and residents will have to adhere to the norms of the policy. In areas which are completely residential, a relaxation can be granted in terms of the timing and the residents can move their vehicle by 10 am instead of 8 am,” said the civic official.
The suggestions had also included the demand the constitution of a ward-level committee to address parking-related complaints which should include BMC officials, the traffic police, Mumbai police, along with local residents. Civic officials have pinned the responsibility of maintaining the parking lots on the concerned residential society. “The parking space allotted to a particular society will correspond to the width of its premises and the space will be monitored by the society’s watchman. If a building needs more space and the adjoining society has space available, then one can opt to use the space by taking a no-objection certificate from the society that has free space,” said the official.
Civic officials added that after the policy is implemented, all hotels and restaurants with valet parking in commercial areas will have to pay for the parking space as well. In areas where there are commercial as well as residential users, the BMC will appoint a contractor who will monitor the parking space.
Expressing their disappointment, the residents said that the policy is bound to run into trouble when the time comes for its implementation. Atul Kumar, trustee of Nariman Point Churchgate Citizens Welfare Trust, said, “The BMC has an attitude that one policy fits all which cannot be the case of Mumbai since the suburbs and the island city will have its unique problems. It is surprising that the BMC, the richest civic body, is extracting more money from the residents. The points raised by the residents had merit and now the implementation of the policy will be a big challenge.”
Owing to the lack of response from the civic body, a few residents are considering litigation to ensure that their concerns are addressed. Some residents like Prerak Choudhury are planning to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the High Court after it reopens in June.