Hefty fines see slight dip in illegal parking in Mumbai
More than 20 days after civic body started imposing a hefty penalty – ranging from ₹5,000 to ₹15,000 – on vehicles found to be parked within the 500-meter no-parking radius of public parking lots (PPLs), HT reporters conducted a check at three wards in the island city and suburbs to see if the new rule has changed the ground reality.
This is what they found: While there is a marginal increase in parking at lots in L ward (Kurla and parts of Powai), F south (Parel and Worli) and K west (Andheri West and parts of Oshiwara), motorists are finding spots beyond the 500-m radius to park illegally, so they can evade the penalty. Congestion, the idea behind imposing the rule, is reducing, but slowly.
In the western suburbs, there are nine PPLs, of which three are in Goregaon alone, one in Oshiwara and one in Andheri.
According to BMC officials, use of PPLs has increased, but marginally, contrary to civic body’s expectations. Municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, before the imposition of fine, had said, “The BMC considers these private vehicles and obstructions as encroachments on public roads. If a slum encroaches on public land, it is demolished… We plan to increase the number of BEST buses. We would like the roads to be free of obstacles, so BEST can function with full efficiency.”
In some cases, people continue to park illegally, but outside the 500-m radius. Some also park in no-parking zones after office hours. Local complain that as the parking charges are too high, it is not feasible to use the facility.
A case in point could be Oshiwara PPL, also known as Runwal Oshiwara PPL, which has a total capacity of more than 500, including cars and heavy vehicles. Its occupancy rate was 20-30% before July 7. After the fine, it went up to 50%. Prashant Gaikwad, assistant commissioner of K west ward, which covers the Oshiwara and Andheri PPLs, said, “The occupancy of both the PPLs has increased. The growth we are seeing maybe marginal now, but when it comes to overall city, it will increase in the coming days. It has been only 20 days that we have started levying of ₹10,000 fine. The discipline also depends on how aggressive one is at implementation. Our ward has the highest action taking rate.”
Both these PPLs at Andheri and Oshiwara are available for parking for free, considering no contractors are currently operating the PPLs.
Shivnath Marwah, a local resident, said, “Currently, not many park illegally near the Oshiwara Link Road PPL. Half the road is occupied for Metro works, and there are at least three malls in the surrounding areas, where some park their vehicles.”
Another problem the BMC claims is of two-wheelers, which were earlier parked haphazardly. BJP’s Sandeep Patel, councillor from Goregaon, which has three PPLs, said, “The BMC should target commercial vehicles. In Goregaon, on SV Road and Link Road, parking menace is mainly because of big commercial vehicles.”
There are 10 PPLs in the island city. At F/South ward, which has the only PPL with parking slots for two-wheelers, the PPL at Kalpataru Avana building at Parel, is a prime spot for officegoers. But the high charges are keeping motorists away.
Between June 12 and June 23, a total of 1,611 vehicles, 208 two-wheelers and 1,403 four-wheelers, were being parked here. Since the imposition of the fine, from July 12 to July 23, 1,882 vehicles –239 two-wheelers and 1,643 four-wheelers –were parked inside the PPL. On an average on a daily basis, 13-24 two-wheelers and 113-125 four-wheelers were parked before July 7, after which the number has gone up to 14-27 two-wheelers and 120-152 four-wheelers.
Shiv Sena’s local councillor Anil Kokil said although there has been a marginal increase in the parking, most people still prefer to park outside. “People have also realized that no action is taken after 6pm.”
The monthly pass charges in Kalpataru Avana PPL is ₹1800 for four-wheelers and ₹600 for two-wheelers. On a daily basis, three- and four-wheelers are charged ₹20 for an hour, ₹25 for 1-3 hours, ₹35 for 3-6 hours, ₹60 for 6-12 hours and ₹70 for more than 12 hours. For two wheelers, it is ₹5, ₹15, ₹20, ₹25 and ₹30,respectively.
There are seven PPLs in the eastern suburbs. Two of the public parking lots at Saki Vihar Road and Chandivali farm road saw a rise in the daily occupancy. While the one at Saki Vihar Road has seen a slow growth, the PPL at Chandivali Farm road saw manifold increase in total number of monthly pass purchases and daily passing vehicles. However, the roads outside these PPLs still continue to see illegal parking in huge numbers.
One of the supervisors at the Lodha multilevel parking lot at Saki Vihar road said, “There is a slow growth as other commercial offices in the vicinity have their own parking spaces and most of the vehicles are parked there.” This parking lot has seen 25% increase in the total number of monthly passes issued for both two- and four-wheelers.
The Boomerang parking lot at Chandivali farm road has seen a 122% increase in monthly passes. A supervisor at the parking lot said, “The number of monthly passes of parking has increased from 40-45 in June to nearly 100 by July-end. The nearby commercial buildings do not have much space and hence allow only selective employees to park their vehicles on private premises. Earlier, the entire roads outside these offices used to have illegal parking.”
Manish Valanju, assistant municipal commissioner of L ward (Kurla, Sakinaka, Powai), said, “There is a considerable difference with regards to the scale of illegal parking. Citizens are now proactively looking for PPLs. Both these roads in Powai have seen a positive difference.”
Vijay Singhal, additional municipal commissioner, who heads the roads and traffic department, said, “The implementation of the fine has definitely helped in use of PPLs and free flow of traffic. From next month, we will open BEST depots to park private tourist buses and school buses, which also cause congestion on the roads. We have already discussed the parking charges and BEST administration has approved it. This will further decongest the roads.”
AV Shenoy, member of Mumbai Vikas Samiti, a forum of transport experts, said, “A way to ensure there is maximum usage of PPLs is to allow parking of two-wheelers, despite there being no allocation. Of the 26 PPLs, only one PPL has parking space for bikes, which is not ideal. Also, a scientific study must be done on demand of PPL, comparing it with the location.”