As many as 92 of the 117 city parking lot contracts expired in 2009, yet Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has allowed the same contractors to continue running these lots via annual extensions.
Also, despite cases of overcharging coming to light, the civic authorities have not yet initiated any steps to curb the fleecing of motorists at the BMC’s pay and park lots in the city.
On April 15, the Hindustan Times exposed how motorists were fleeced by pay and park attendants. Following this, BMC officials conducted a surprise visit on April 16 and found several such violations.
Significantly, the BMC is yet to take action against the contractors held guilty of overcharging motorists. Additional municipal commissioner Aseem Gupta had, on Tuesday, said the civic body would issue circulars to all pay and park contractors and penalise those found overcharging during the surprise visit. However, when asked, municipal officials were unable to tell when the circular would be issued and when action would be taken against the guilty contractors.
Activists who have been extracting the information on parking lot contracts from the BMC, say contractors are paying little in the form of licence fee to the corporation to operate the city’s parking lots. However, they have been extracting many times more from citizens and even violating BMC rules on the tariff.
For instance, in 2007, three combined parking lots at Crawford market in south Mumbai with a capacity of 1,692 cars were awarded to contractors for Rs 20.91 lakh as yearly licence fees. Similarly, Jamnalal Bajaj Marg parking lot in ‘A’ ward for 1,640 cars was given for Rs 16.66 lakh.
“Considering the licence fee, even if the contractors charge as per the BMC approved tariff – Rs10 for the first hour and then Rs5 for each additional hour – they will make huge profits, as the number of cars in the metro goes up daily. Moreover, they are fleecing motorists by charging many times more so as to make more money which remains unaccounted for,” said Mohammad Afzal, transport activist who is fighting the overcharging menace since 2005.
Afzal added, “I have been taking up this issue with the BMC apex committee attended by officials from all departments. But, officials have been turning a blind eye to the issue.”
Adding to this, James John from Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) volunteer said, “The civic authorities themselves witnessed the violation during their surprise visit so they could have penalised the contractor on the same day.”
Staff from additional commissioner Aseem Gupta’s office requesting anonymity said, “Gupta has instructed the executive engineer JK Madan to draft the circular regarding violation of BMC tariff, which will be issued next week to all contractors.”
When contacted, Madan refused to comment on the issue.