Cops' tug-of-war leads to parking woes at station

After receiving complaints from railway staff that the traffic police often towed away their vehicles from the premises of the Pune railway station, the railway police shot off a letter to the traffic branch telling it to not take action on any vehicle parked on the station premises.

No control: Haphazardly parked vehicles at the Pune railway station

The letter stated that the station premises came under the jurisdiction of the railway police and from now on they would be taking over the traffic and parking management on the premises. Following the receipt of the letter, the traffic branch of the police stopped taking action on irregularly parked vehicles or instances of erratic driving on the station premises, resulting in utter chaos at the station.

The poor management of parking of vehicles and traffic on the station premises can be attributed to the manpower crunch in the railway police, which is translating into failure to take action against errant parking or driving. Commuters and visitors to the station are now found parking their vehicles in a disorderly fashion, adding to the traffic congestion. The railway police claim that they have deployed four police personnel for traffic management and to fine violators who park their vehicles without regard to the rules.

The traffic branch had deployed more than 12 police personnel on the station premises to look after the traffic management and fine violators. “We did receive a letter last week and in that letter the railway police have asked us to not deploy traffic policemen, tow vehicles from the station premises or fine the violators,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare said. “As it is there jurisdiction, we will not interfere in the future, but we expect that they should tackle the issues related to parking on the premises efficiently the situation is becoming grim every passing day.”

He said that in past, the railway administration had urged the traffic branch of the police to deploy its personnel and fine violators for better traffic and parking management inside the railway station compound wall. A traffic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, “Since we have stopped taking action against the unruly vehicle parking, people who come to the railway station are parking their vehicles wherever they find space. If the railway police are claiming that they have deployed four police personnel, then why is there mismanagement related to vehicle parking?”

Parking violation: Two-wheelers parked right before a no-parking sign at the Pune railway station

The official said that in the prevailing scenario, the staff of the parking contractor had become careless and were allowing the parking of vehicles absolutely anywhere as long as the Rs 10 parking fees was paid. Police Inspector (Railway Police) Mahendra Rokde defended the move to ask the traffic police to stay away form the station premises. “Recently, we received several complaints from the railway staff that their vehicles were being towed away from the premises by the traffic personnel and since it is our jurisdiction, we sent a letter to the traffic division to not interfere henceforth,” Rokde said. “We have already deployed four police personnel for traffic management and within two days we will be getting a tempo and a crane to tow the vehicles from the premises."

Pandhare said if vehicles belonging to the railway staffs had been towed away by the traffic division from the station premises, there must have been a valid reason such as haphazard parking. Railway PRO Y K Singh said if the railway police was taking over the management of parking and traffic at the station, they should do it properly. Commuters are claiming that the inefficiency of the railway officials and lack of proper administration was giving rise to a lot of chaos in the railway station area.

Harsha Shaha, president of Railway Commuters Group, said, “The root cause of traffic issue at the railway station is the faulty system of parking, which can be changed only by the railway authorities. It is very difficult to get space in the paid-parking area located at the station, near the reservation office, because regular commuters have occupied that space by parking their two-wheelers for 12 to 14 hours at a stretch.”

He said that other visitors to the station do not get space easily in the parking area, because of which they park elsewhere on the station premises.
“We have demanded many times that parking space should be provided only for two to three hours, after which the railways should charge a fine,” he said. “Many private travel companies have even paid the monthly charges for parking and occupied the space. Railway authorities should change their parking policy to avoid congestion on the station premises.” 

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