In a city that is starved of space, Mumbai residents will soon have to pay to use public spaces to park their vehicles.
SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner and in-charge of roads and traffic, was instrumental in drafting the revised pay and park policy.
In conversation with HT, Srinivas defended the policy, saying it is aimed at encouraging the use of public transport and cracking down on the menace of illegal parking. The revised policy will be rolled out by the BMC in areas such as Colaba, Churchgate and Fort in three weeks.
In the revised policy, the BMC will now charge residents for parking on roads, with the use of residential permits. Why is this important in a city like Mumbai?
We are only charging citizens for the use of public spaces and open spaces, which is already scarce in the city. Every day, 475-500 new vehicles are registered in Mumbai. We need a policy to tackle and regulate such a huge number of vehicles in the city. We will be taking a licence fee from hawkers for the use of public space to conduct their business. Then why should citizens not be charged for using the same public space to park their vehicles?
With the policy, we are also trying to encourage people to use public transport in the city.
While the policy is expected to encourage citizens to use public transport, there has been no significant improvement in the condition of public transport in the city. How does the BMC plan to deal with the objections raised by residents and the political class, who are echoing similar concerns?
We are beginning the pilot project in the A ward. If some changes are required, we will incorporate them before rolling out the policy across the city. It is a new policy and people will take time to adjust to it, but many residents have already welcomed the move.
It is not true that there has been no significant improvement in public transport. There is the Metro, which caters to more than two lakh commuters every day. Under the Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP), 1,000 coaches were given to suburban local trains. MUTP-II is underway, so there has been movement in the right direction. All these processes take time, and must be done simultaneously.
What are the measures taken in the policy to tackle the menace of illegal parking?
By introducing four times the usual charges for parking within a half-km radius of parking lots, we are aiming at optimal utilisation of parking lots, and discouraging vehicle owners from parking illegally on roads.
For better implementation of the policy, the civic body promised multi-level parking lots and a web-based parking system. Right now, there is only one multi-level parking lot in the city, and manual collection of parking charges in all lots.
Two more multi-level parking lots are in the pipeline in Powai. We have already started the bidding process. We will soon float tenders for hand-held devices and software, for the implementation of a web-based parking system, and will implement it before rolling out the policy across the city.