Mumbai is one of the most helpless island cities drowning in a sea of cars while battling with its never ending parking problems. As the universal belief goes, finding parking space in the city is a big hindrance. While some residential areas offer parking area, it is extremely difficult for an average middle class person to afford dedicated parking space.
In order to improve the quality of life, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) wishes to improve the basic infrastructure. The city has seen a significant increase in the private vehicles over last few years. It has become increasingly difficult for citizens to find public parking places while they are on the move. In order to ease the parking woes of the citizens, MCGM proposes to adopt and implement a new parking policy. The new parking policy elaborates on-street parking (residential parking, parking near schools, and parking for tourist places) and off-street parking. Moreover, MCGM also envisages web based parking to be implemented and issue receipts using hand held devices.
t is a truth universally acknowledged that a Mumbai resident owning a car must be in search of parking space. The hunt for car parking is, of course, not limited to Mumbai, but is the common frustration with which most major cities of the world grapple. But we are concerned with Mumbai, which looks like drowning in a sea of cars.
This city has circumstances which exacerbate the problem further, being an island as well as a commercial hub, making for an exaggerated density of both humans and vehicles. Compound that with the public assumption that the government and city corporation are our mai-baap and must provide free parking space to all vehicle owners, and you have set the stage for an urban nightmare.
Look at the statistics: there are over 15 lakh cars on Mumbai’s roads, but common parking space for only — hold your breath — 8,000, thanks to the 100-odd pay-and-park areas across the city. The city’s vehicular density is 591 vehicles per square meter, compared to 163 in New Delhi and the international average vehicular density of 300. Not surprisingly, this leads to crises and conflict on a daily basis.
While some residential and office complexes have car parks, the average middle class citizen, who can today afford a car, has nowhere to park. For most, therefore, the solution is to park on the streets, sometimes double and triple parking. This obviously makes life difficult for drivers and for the traffic police who are unable to clear congested roads, making traffic jams inevitable.
On the other hand, there is little improvement in mass transport systems. As environmental activists have pointed out, only 9 per cent of the 14 million people in the city use cars and two-wheelers, but over Rs10,000 crore will be spent over the next few years on road projects.
Therefore, a two-pronged strategy must be employed to tackle the problem. First, we must accept that the government and BMC can and should charge for parking vehicles in the streets, as they do in many cities worldwide. Second, private enterprise must be encouraged to build car parking tower blocks across the city to ease the problem.
Meanwhile, the BMC itself has been most sluggish about developing the huge amount of vacant land it has acquired over the years, specifically reserved for parking. Hopefully, it won’t need court rulings to get us parking space.
One of the worst-hit areas which is affected by Haphazard parking is Colaba. Illegal parking is a major problem in Colaba. This is clearly one of the sore spots in the city due to the VIP movement that happens near Taj Mahal Hotel. The large number of tourists visiting the area makes the situation worse. If any VIP decides to visit the Taj Mahal Hotel then due to security reasons, the resident-owned cars parked on the roads around the hotel are moved to the bylanes in the neighborhood. This leads to complete chaos as these bylanes are narrow and already have several cars parked, which belong to the residents. Moving additional cars here has led to a lot of inconvenience, ultimately leading to major traffic on the roads.
Residents have time and again shared their ideas that could work as lasting solutions for the neighborhood. Some of these ideas include stationing traffic officers at the ‘No Entry’ points at J.A. Alana Marg, Henry Road as well as Walton Road and Garden Road, to curb the violation of two-wheelers and cars not observing the signage. The solutions are meant to be simple alterations in the way the traffic department functions.
ALMs and residents’ associations have repeatedly sent letters to the traffic department requesting them to take action but not much has been done. Even top officials had visited the concerned area to take note of the problems, but nothing has progressed since then.
Subhash Motwani, a Colaba-based activist, shares, “In additon to all the existing problems, there is now the problem of pollution as there are chauffer-driven cars that are parked illegally at J.A. Allana Marg; the drivers sit inside the car while it is parked and the engine is left on. This increases the amount of pollutants emitted from the vehicles, which is absolutely unnecessary and uncalled for.” A Ward, spread across almost 12 sq km, covers one of the most important business districts of the city, the seat of power Mantralaya, tony areas such as Marine Drive, Fort and Navy Nagar, and also a few slum clusters in Colaba and Cuffe Parade. While it is home to 1.88 lakh people, the ward sees nearly eight lakh visitors daily.
Transport experts claim that there has been negligible development as far as underground or multilevel parking lots are concerned. “It’s been so many years, yet the government hasn’t provided sufficient number of multilevel parking lots. When they collect so much tax on vehicles, they should also provide infrastructure for parking,” said Nitin Dossa of Western India Automobile Association.
Mr “Puran Doshi” secretary of Congress(I) & Ex Corporator is working towards improving the parking issues in Colaba. According to him the state government should think of broadening the scope of multi-storey parking, as it is happening half-heartedly in selective areas. His suggestion if implemented can lead solve parking issues in Colaba to a great extent. His work & thoughts can really bring positive change in Colaba.