Footpaths will be cleared for pedestrians: Mumbai's new traffic head

Mar 10, 2014, 11:57 IST | Vedika Chaubey

Taking note of mid-day’s campaign against parking on footpaths, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Dr B K Upadhyay, has taken up the task of ridding the city’s pavements of illegal parking lots, and returning the walkways to Mumbaikars. In an exclusive interview he shares the plans he has up his sleeve to make his promise a reality

Q. As the traffic head, what will you do for the footpaths that have been occupied by motorists for parking?
A. This has become a huge problem in the city and I will make sure that footpaths are only for pedestrians and not to park vehicles.


Big Promises: Dr B K Upadhyay, the newly appointed joint commissioner of police (traffic). PIC/Bipin Kokate

Q. Do you agree that accidents are partly caused by parking on footpaths?
A. This could be one of the reasons — people don’t have space to walk on the footpaths meant for them, as vehicles have occupied these walkways. They are forced to walk on the roads.

Q. What will your action plan be against this menace of illegal parking on footpaths?
A. I have already started work on this and I have asked the staff concerned to locate stretches where illegal
parking takes place.

Q. How are the traffic authorities planning to tackle the parking problem?
A. We need more exclusive parking spaces in the city and it’s the duty of the BMC to provide these spaces in the city. There is limited space for parking, but a high volume of vehicles. We have 12,000 vehicles for every kilometre of road. We get questions all the time from people about where they should park their vehicles. If someone owns a car, he can’t keep it in his pocket. We are already in talks with the BMC for the construction of a multi-storey parking space. If we want a permanent solution for parking issues, we need more of these multi-storey parking spaces. Motorists are ready to pay for parking, if their vehicles are kept in a safe place. It’s not only about levying fines and towing vehicles away — we are doing our duty, but unless and until permanent solutions are made available, it won’t help the city.

Q. Ordinary people still have the mindset that it’s easier
to just bribe the cop and get away with illegal parking.
A. We are trying to decrease malpractices through internal vigilance and are keeping an eye on the traffic signals. We have asked our staff to move about as much as possible so they can nab errant motorists red-handed.

Q. Do you think that fines imposed for violating traffic rules should be raised so that it pinches the errant driver?
A. The fine amount has already been specified in the Motor Vehicles Act and we can’t ask for anything above that. I will look into this personally and check the categories for the most common violations and try to maximise the fine for such categories. Cases of rash driving, signal jumping and drink-driving need to be taken seriously in order to control accidents and impose traffic discipline.

Q. Mumbai has lost its earlier repute of being one of the most disciplined cities for drivers
A. We are trying to educate people against violating traffic rules. One of the main reasons for lack of discipline on the roads is that the number of vehicles has increased and our enforcement has decreased. We are conducting drives constantly. If people know that the police will be there to catch them, they will follow the rules. We are trying to shed our bad image.

Q. Despite rules banning
two-wheelers on JJ Flyover, they can be seen there. What’s being done about that?
A. There will be continuous drives at spots like JJ Flyover. Earlier, the drives were held for just a few days, but now there will be checks every day, especially during peak hours.

I have visited the flyover and in just a few days, we have fined over thousands of two-wheelers for riding on
JJ Flyover.

Q. How about more speed cameras to catch errant drivers?
A. CCTV cameras have been installed at the traffic junctions and we use them to track number plates of cars that violate traffic rules. As of now, we are not in the process of increasing the number of CCTV cameras, because the government has already made plans for that all across the city for better security.

Q. There has been a surge in the number of two-wheelers in the city, and this is often cited as a reason for indiscipline, lane-cutting, overtaking and simply cutting into traffic as the vehicles wend their way through choked roads.
A. The choked roads are the responsibility of the BMC. We are doing our duty by ensuring traffic discipline and catching people who violate traffic rules.

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