If you use civic pay-and-park lots, chances are you’re being cheated. Several contractors across the city are charging motorists many times the rate specified by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
A Hindustan Times team visited five parking lots and found that motorists are illegally being charged Rs 20 to Rs 60 per hour. The official rate is Rs 10 up to an hour and Rs 5 for each additional hour.
Apart from charging more, several parking lot employees refused to issue receipts to motorists. Some attendants even had two separate receipt books, one with the official rate and another with the illegal one.
Major violations were found at parking lots in South Mumbai — Crawford Market, under the JJ Flyover and Nariman Point — where the traffic density is high and parking is a major problem.
Every parking lot must, as per the rules, have a board displaying the official charges. However, in most cases, the boards were put up in a corner and were barely noticeable. A couple of parking lots didn’t have the boards at all.
JK Madan, executive engineer, traffic planning, said: “We regularly inspect parking lots. If irregularities are found, the contractor is fined Rs 1,000. Motorists can approach the Traffic Department, Worli, write to the civic chief engineer (roads) or call the BMC headquarters on 22620251 if they have any complaints.”
“The Rs 1,000 penalty will not affect the contractors at all. The BMC should instead withdraw the contract immediately and blacklist the contractor,” said James John, an Action for Good Governance and Networking in India (AGNI) volunteer.
“I was not aware of the official rate and paid Rs 60 to park my car for an hour. The attendant didn’t even give me a receipt,” said Nikhil Salgaonkar, at Jamnalal Bajaj Marg near Nariman Point.
Mohammad Afzal, a car owner and Right To Information activist, said: “This is a violation of the BMC’s tender terms. The BMC is earning huge revenues from parking, but there is no supervision. That’s how contractors fleece us. The BMC should have a dedicated helpline for motorists.”