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Look forward while parking?

BMC gets bids for three underground car parks, but the problem is far more acute, writes Soubhik Mitra.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2007 16:14 IST

A slice of parking blues is moving on to a purple patch. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is in the process of building three underground multi-level car parks at prominent the city.

All the three car parks will be simultaneously constructed at Shamaprasad Mukherji Chowk or the Regal junction (stretching up to Jehangir Art Gallery in Kala Ghoda), Hutatma Chowk or Flora Fountain, and the Mahatma Phule market in front of Crawford market.

The structures will come up on a design-build-own-operate-transfer (DBOOT) basis. Officials of the Private Initiative (PI) cell of the BMC told HT that each car park would accommodate more than 1,000 cars. The civic body had floated tenders for the project late last year. Already, they have received 14 applications for each car park.

“We are waiting for the election. Once the new civic committee is formed, we can start the work,” said Manu Srivastav, additional commissioner, BMC. Currently, the BMC has 89 parking lots, which are operated by private contractors.

In addition, municipal councillors in some wards had initiated pay-and-park schemes, said the BMC traffic department. Roadblocks Car explosion: According the state transport ministry, the car population in Greater Bombay till March 2005 was more than four lakh. More than a lakh autorickshaws and 6.5 lakh two-wheelers run across the city.

“If each car park accommodates 1,000 cars, it would only cater to 1 per cent of the city’s car population. Considering the investment needed for a underground car park, parking rates are likely to be very high,” said transport expert Sunil Badami.

“Since most young professionals buy cars on loan, they do not like to spend too much on parking. We would be stuck with the same problem.”

Lack of designated parking space: A study conducted on Churchgate station by non-governmental organisation Citispace in 2002 revealed that because of a wellestablished mass transit system, the number of cars vis-à-vis the day population of the area is fairly low.

Despite this, the study pointed out, main streets like J. Tata and Veer Nariman roads witness acute parking shortage. The pay and parks schemes in the area are not executed properly. These include parking ar eas near Mantralaya and Eros Cinema. Also, since the Oval Maidan stretch has wide pavements, it is used as parking space.

Citispace convener Neera Punj said: “We spent over Rs 2 lakh on the study. Every government department was given a copy. But none of them got back to us.” Parking Mafia: Usually, slum dwellers run the mafia all over the city. For instance, weekend partygoers heading towards Hard Rock Café in Lower Parel pay slum dwellers living outside the Kamla Mills compound for car safety. The stretch from Deepak Cinema to the Doordarshan building in Worli does not have a car park. You either pay Rs 50 to the slumdweller knocking on the window, or find a mechanic in the wee hours to tow your car.

Miscreants puncture tyres, break the oil tank and inflict even heavy damage to the vehicle. A few months ago, several cases were reported of unknown people damaging cars parked in Bandra.

Bipin Bihari, additional commissioner of police (western region), said that the matter was being investigated. Police sources said a parking mafia could be responsible for it. Police patrols were also deployed at those car parks.

Email Soubhik Mitra: soubhik.mitra@hindustantimes.com