Churchgate resident Kirti Vaswani, 32, wants to buy a bigger car, but one concern has stopped him - finding space to park it.
Like Vaswani, most residents of A-ward, which includes areas from Cuffe Parade to CST, don't have adequate parking spaces. "It's tough to find place to park your car. There are times when I have to drive through four lanes next to my house to find a small place where I can barely squeeze in my car without damaging it or the other vehicles," said Vaswani, a C-road resident.
This tony section of the city was one of the earliest to be planned and developed, and while it has ambience and beauty, planners did not envisage the need for parking.
Public parking lots in the A-ward can accommodate 5,642 cars and 515 two-wheelers; the other vehicles end up in haphazard double-lane parking in the congested roads and narrow by-lanes.
The problem is acute as this ward houses business hubs such as Nariman Point, World Trade Centre and Dalal Street, because of which there is a large floating population. As lakhs of people enter the area daily - a major chunk of the 40 lakh floating population in south Mumbai goes to the A ward - both vehicles and pedestrians jostle for space.
Lack of parking space is an issue across Mumbai, which has only 92 civic pay-and-parks with space for 10,314 cars; there's space for another 30,000 vehicles in public parking lots, which include malls, multiplexes, auditoriums, etc. The total number of private vehicles estimated in January in Mumbai: 19.09 lakh.
The situation is worse in areas that have residential complexes and are shopping and office hubs such as Colaba Causeway, Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade, near World Trade Centre.
"The parking rates at the civic pay-and-parks are exorbitant as they don't follow the civic rate cards that they are supposed to," said Ashok Rao, president of the Federation of Churchgate Residents. In the past five years, the civic body has not created a single new parking slot in the area, Rao said.
Vinod Shehkar, Congress corporator from Colaba, said he has repeatedly asked the civic body to do a feasibility study on underground lots. "The options of creating underground parking under Cross Maidan and Azad Maidan should be explored, but the civic body does not seem keen," said Vijaya Dhulla, the Congress corporator from Churchgate.
The heritage nature of the area and restrictions because of the Coastal Regulatory Zone - the ward is close to the sea - add to the problem as these impose restrictions on construction.
Civic officials said the plot that houses Inox was partly reserved for a parking lot, which was de-reserved to make way for the multiplex, reducing the area's potential parking space further.
The Rs 444-crore project planned in 2009, under which seven underground parking lots - two each at Crawford Market and Hutatma Chowk and one each near Eros, Regal and Jehangir Art Gallery - were to be built in south Mumbai, has been scrapped by current civic chief Subodh Kumar, who called the project expensive. They would have doubled the parking capacity in the region to 1,400.