In spite of assurances to address the issue, Mumbai police’s traffic department has still not taken action against more than 150 generator vans illegally parked along Buntara Bhavan Marg in Kurla (E). In April, the Bombay High Court had disposed of a contempt petition against the proprietors of the vans, after then-DCP (Traffic) Namdev Chavan submitted an affidavit assuring the court his department was acting against the vehicles.
On 25 August, 2010, three generator van operators, Sayed Ali of SM Film Power Equipment, Vajid Ali Siddiqui of RV Trans Power and Sayed Meere of Generator on Hire Equipment, had given an undertaking to the Bombay High Court saying they would not park any generator vans on the Buntara Bhavan Marg. However, these promises were soon broken.
When the Bunts Sangha Trust, which runs several institutions in the area, approached the High Court with a contempt petition, it was disposed of after Chavan’s assurances that action was being taken against the vans.
Speaking to MiD DAY, Dr KS Cheema, principal of the Bunts Sangha Mumbai Higher Educational Institutions said, “This narrow road is blocked by double-parked vans on both sides. Garbage is often dumped behind the vehicles. Many of the workers move around half-nude, embarrassing our female students.” On Monday, a frustrated Cheema wrote to the local traffic senior police inspector, urging him to take action against the vans. It was his fourth letter, the previous three of which have elicited no response.
Advocate Pradeep Havnur, who represents the Sangha, said, “The institute runs an old age home, a women’s hostel and several educational institutions in the area, all of which are inconvenienced by the presence of the vans.” When MiD DAY visited the area, it was business as usual, with BEST buses finding it nearly impossible to turn, and generator vans parked on either side of the kilometre-long stretch.
The problem has gotten so bad that BEST has warned the traffic department in a letter dated April 2, 2012 (copy available with MiD DAY) that route 610 between Bunter Bhavan and Kurla Station will need to be cancelled if the inconveniences are not addressed. The bus is the only one that services the area. “This is our daily routine, but it is a nuisance,” said bus driver Rajendra Sawant, while performing a complicated U-turn.
Even BMC workers have not been spared. The drains running along the establishment overflow during the monsoon as the constant presence of the vans prevents workers from getting access. Dr. Krishna Shetty, director of UKS Institute of Management Studies and Research located on the road said, “The trucks extend to about five feet beyond their rear wheels, which sit on the edge of the road. But the vans’ overhang blocks access to the drains.” Vasant Talekar, a BMC supervisor responsible for cleaning the drains in the area said, “We find it difficult to reach the drains. The vans back up over the drain covers and this makes our job difficult. In fact there is hardly any manoeuvring area left. Our own vehicles find it hard to come here.”
The other side
In a letter addressed to Dr KS Cheema, the senior inspector of Chembur Traffic Division said, “We regularly take action against the vans illegally parked outside your establishment. We regularly deploy our towing vans and riders and have from time to time, taken action against 158 generator vans in accordance with the Motor Vehicles Act.” All three generator van operators denied the allegations, and claimed the institute wants to have the vans removed to be able to park its own vehicles there. According to an affidavit by Meere on behalf of all three operators, they have continued to park their vans on the road for nearly 11 months after the undertaking, and no objections were raised by the Trust. Meere also claims they were misled into signing the undertaking.