Pay-and-park at a tout's whim | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Pay-and-park at a tout's whim

HT went to civic parking lots across the city only to discover no rate boards, and fake receipts for exorbitant fees. Prajakta Chavan Rane and Vaishnavi Vasudevan report.

mumbai Updated: Jan 28, 2013 01:25 IST

In a city with around 20 lakh registered private vehicles, there's a premium on parking. And more often than not, the parking charges you cough up are illegal.

In April 2011, HT had done a series of stories on parking in the city and found that people were being overcharged at most lots. Nearly two years since then, HT revisited the issue and found that there has been little improvement. While there have been some changes on ground - with civic authorities taking charge of all 47 pay-and-park facilities in the A ward and cleaning up their acts - motorists continue to be routinely fleeced at most other BMC parking lots.

A Hindustan Times team visited six BMC pay-and-park plots and found that motorists were being charged a minimum of Rs20 for one hour and an additional Rs10 for every subsequent hour. The official parking charges are Rs15 for an hour, Rs20 for 1-3 hours and and Rs30 for 3-6 hours.

Attendants at the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) lots not only charged the illegal sums, but also issued fake receipts. At certain spots such as the JJ flyover, where parking is not allowed at all, the 'unofficial' parking charges were much higher.

The major violations were seen in South Mumbai at Marine Drive, Breach Candy and Nariman Point, in suburbs at Andheri and Chembur. "The 4-wheeler parking at the Andheri ward office is Rs30 an hour, but official rates on the boards are much less. The attendant says he is charging a new rate, but there is no way to verify this," said Mohit Shah, 35, a Malad resident.

Most motorists complain that boards with the rules or correct rates are not displayed prominently. "By hiding information, the authorities are encouraging the fleecing," said Ramya Rao, a student.

R Ingle, an executive engineer from the civic traffic department, said, "We have instructed our contractors to charge as per the norms, but if there are any complaints, action will be taken after we consult the higher authorities. If fake receipts have been given, a police complaint can be lodged against them."

Below JJ flyover
Time: 11.15am
What HT found: Although parking under the flyover has been prohibited, touts continue to direct vehicles there and charge high fees for a parking slot. One of them directed us to pull over, asked our driver to get off and parked the vehicle himself.
He demanded Rs100 as the per-hour parking charge. Initially, he was reluctant to give us a receipt, but when insisted, he gave a tampered one by writing out the time and money he had taken, on it.
The 'no-parking zone' banners under the flyover were displayed so low on the flyover's pillars that they could be easily removed.
What needs to be done: The banners stating that there are no allotted parking slots under the flyover should be displayed prominently. The civic body should publicise its decision to stop allowing parking.

Marine Drive
Opposite Charni Road station near Pran Sukhlal Mafatlal Hindu Swimming Bath and Boat club.
Time: 4pm
Additional Parking charges: Rs 10 for every hour after the first one
What HT found: He asked for Rs20 as minimum parking charges and provided what looked like a fake receipt that didn't have a parking lot location at all. The parking charges board was covered by the tree it was under and rates displayed on it had been scratched out.
What needs to be done: A new board displaying the correct parking charges should be put up in a more visible area. A helpline number should be displayed.

Jamnalal Bajaj Marg, Nariman Point
Time: 3.15pm
What HT found: The attendant said the minimum parking charges for an hour are Rs20, (official charges are Rs15). When we pointed out that the receipt mentioned Rs15, he said Rs 5 would be given back to us if we returned within the hour, else it would be adjusted against the charges. However, when we came back before the hour was up, he refused to part with the Rs 5, saying he had already written it on the receipt. He didn't mention the time out on the receipt or mark the hours' block. The boards displaying
parking charges and helpline number for complaints were not displayed prominently.

What needs to be done: Boards should be put up in prominent locations with details of parking charges and telephone numbers for grievances.

Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel
Time: 5.15pm
Additional Parking charges: Rs 10 for every hour after the first one
What HT found: The attendant was not wearing an ID card. He charged us Rs20 as the minimum rate for parking and handed us a fake receipt.
What needs to be done: A grievance redressal number should be indicated in the area. Genuine parking receipts need to be given out.

Bhulabhai Desai Road, near Priyadarshini Park
Time: 4.30pm
Additional Parking charges: Rs 10 for every hour after the first one
What HT found: The attendant said the minimum charges were Rs20. He provided a fake receipt that didn't have a parking lot
location. There was no board displaying parking charges. The attendant was not wearing an identity card.
What needs to be done: A board that clearly displays parking charges needs to be put up in the area and the amount being charged needs to be regulated by the authorities.

Near Natraj Cinema, opposite Chembur station
Time: 12.40pm
Aditional Parking charges: Rs 10 for every hour after the first one
What HT found: There were no boards that mentioned parking rates, so the contractors were charging anything they wished. They handed out fake receipts that showed inflated parking charges. For instance, the charge for 2-wheelers for up to three hours is Rs 10, but on the receipt that he gave us, it was mentioned as being Rs15.
What needs to be done: Boards with the correct rates should be displayed clearly at the entrance and various parts of the parking area. The authorities should conducted frequent checks to ensure that the contractors don't overcharge.