Mumbai: BMC loses lakhs on its pay-and-park lots

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation should earn a monthly revenue of approximately R1.14 crore from its 32 parking lots in A ward. But till now, the civic body has managed to collect only R8-16 lakh per month from these facilities. This has caused massive losses to the state exchequer

As against its own expected revenue of R1.14 crore, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) earns hardly 20 per cent of it every month from its 32 pay-and-park facilities in A ward, resulting in losses of about R1 crore every month.

Citing poor response from contractors, BMC had taken over the responsibility of operating 32 of the 47 parking lots in A ward.

BMC parking
The BMC parking lot outside Crawford Market.  According to sources, poor supervision and corruption have impacted revenues from these BMC pay-and-park lots. Pic/Bipin Kokate

The average total collection per day in 2014 from all the 32 BMC-operated parking lots was Rs 75,363 while that from private contractors who operate 15 parking lots was Rs 1,31,333. While private contractors have to meet certain revenue targets every month to avoid a fine, there seems to be no such rule for the BMC workers running these facilities.

System failure “I agree that the same rule must be applied to BMC employees and the same targets should be given to them. They should be given incentives to collect more money,” said a senior BMC official.

The BMC parking lot outside Crawford Market.  According to sources, poor supervision and corruption have impacted revenues from these BM

He added, “Our bids receive poor response from contractors not because our norms are stringent but because there is poor response from the public. A lot of important people refuse to pay the fee. We need stricter laws.”

mid-day visited several of these facilities in the A ward; most had collected only R300 on an average as daily parking charges, which means a monthly average of Rs 10,000 per lot. The BMC itself lays down an estimated income from each parking lot of around R1 to R5 lakh per month.

Several BMC workers at the lots were either unavailable or did not have a receipt book, or simply pocketed money without making a receipt. The payment of many of the workers is between R15,000 and R25,000 per month for an eight-hour shift. Thus, while the BMC earns not more than R25 lakh per month in the form of revenue, it ends up paying a large chunk of it to the workers in the form of salaries.

When asked whether the BMC is incurring tremendous losses on this front, another senior officer from the roads and traffic department said, “The BMC is not a revenue-generating body. The objective is to allow unobstructed flow of traffic and prevent these lots from falling into disrepair. It is a temporary arrangement. Actually, the lots are supposed to be operated by contractors.”

When asked how the BMC workers are able to collect much less than the contractors, he said the contractors make their workers work for 12 hours a day. Besides, private parking lots function on public holidays too, while the BMC has to give a holiday to its employees. Sometimes, the BMC ends up operating parking lots on only 21 days of the month.

Initially, the pay-and-park facilities were a centralised operation, with the BMC’s roads and traffic department operating parking lots all over the city. However, complaints of massive corruption led the BMC to decentralise the system, giving more power to ward offices.

In A ward alone, there are 47 pay-and-park facilities, of which 32 are run by the BMC, and the rest by contractors. Officials from the A ward office claim that bids were invited for all the lots, but the response from contractors has been poor. What they fail to mention is the tremendous amount of money that changes hands in the parking lots operated by the BMC without ever making it to the civic body’s coffers.

The A ward office has again invited bids for 29 of its parking lots currently being run by BMC staff, as recently as April 28. If the trend continues, these bids too might not receive a great response.

When mid-day visited the parking lots, we found that two of the 15 being run by contractors only had an agreement till April or May 2014. When we asked the ward office as to how these operators were continuing to run these parking facilities well past their allotted dates, the office acknowledged a “typing mistake.” One contractor has been given an extension up to April 2015, while the other has an extension till May 30, 2015.

On Vinay K Shah Road, the BMC worker confirmed that he does not collect more than Rs 250 every day. Similarly, the worker on Jamnalal Bajaj Road confirmed that he collects around Rs 350 per day. The average amount collected at most BMC-operated parking lots remained R300. According to documents procured by activist Lalit Jain under an RTI query, the parking lot at Jamnalal Bajaj Road has a capacity of holding 117 four-wheelers and 52 two-wheelers. Thus, the BMC’s estimated collection from this parking lot for a period of one month is Rs 2,35,914.

Similarly, Vinay K Shah Road has a capacity of holding 98 four-wheelers and 44 two-wheelers and thus can notch up revenue of Rs 1,98,029.

Thus, the total monthly revenue of the 47 parking lots (of which 32 are with the BMC) in A ward is expected at around Rs 1.4 crore (Rs  114,31,568) every month. But the civic body has generated an average of Rs 75,363 per day in 2014.

The lowest revenue generated was in the month of December 2014, which was Rs 12,35,198 and the highest was in the month of January 2014, which was Rs 24,43,962. This, while the average daily revenue generated from private contractors was Rs 1,31,333. Thus, the BMC collected an average of R2,06,696 per day in 2014, a large chunk of which came from contractors.

Similarly, in 2015, the BMC collected Rs 16,82,918 in January, Rs 8,60,274 in February and Rs 6,98,047 in March from all its 32 pay-and-park facilities. This, while its own estimates for such facilities is Rs 1.14 crore every month.

“I am aware of the shortcomings of the system and that’s why we have invited fresh bids. What more can I do?” asked assistant commissioner, A ward, Shekhar Chore. When asked why BMC employees do not have targets like the way private operators do, he refused to comment. Sanjay Darade, deputy chief engineer of the roads and traffic department (responsible for pay-and-park systems) said, “We no longer handle individual wards since that is the responsibility of the ward office. Parking lots were decentralised to avoid corruption.” He expressed his shock at the discrepancies in the figures and said that BMC workers must also be made accountable.

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