Mumbai: State government stays pilot project of new parking policy

The policy, which the civic body was going to implement on a pilot basis in south Mumbai, had faced strong opposition from residents and local BJP MLA, as it involved a fourfold hike in parking charges

The government of Maharashtra has stayed the pilot implementation of the BMC’s recently passed parking policy, which had hiked parking charges by 300 per cent. Interestingly, a BJP MLA had supported local residents’ demands against the policy going against his own party, and its ally Shiv Sena, in the BMC.

mid-day has a copy of the order that puts an interim stay on the project. Confirming the same, Manisha Mhaiskar, urban development secretary, said that the orders to stay the pilot project had been conveyed to the BMC. The Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the civic body had given its nod to the policy at the General Body Meeting (GBM) earlier this month.

Cars parked on the road on Marine Drive
Cars parked on the road on Marine Drive

The civic body had decided to implement it on a pilot basis in A ward covering south Mumbai from February 1. The decision had been decried by all local residents, who are opposed to paying such steep charges to park their vehicles on the roads outside their residential societies.

mid-day’s January 28 report on Colaba MLA Raj Purohit’s protest
mid-day’s January 28 report on Colaba MLA Raj Purohit’s protest

They then approached Colaba MLA Raj Purohit, who took up their cause and went against his own party man, BMC group leader Manoj Kotak, who had supported the policy (‘It’s BJP vs BJP over new parking policy’, January 28). Purohit had even spoken to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis about it.

Purohit now wants a stay on the entire policy. “Colaba Residents Association are strongly opposing the policy and the fourfold hike is totally unfair. I had written to the CM and the state has stayed the implementation, and ordered a hearing on the issue. The stay is currently only on the A ward project, but the opposition (by residents) is to the entire policy.

So the stay should be on the entire policy,” he said. When asked why the state government had been approached in a BMC-related matter, he replied, “The residents have been following up with the BMC and have mentioned their dissatisfaction about the policy at various public meetings.

The CM heard their plight.” Meanwhile, Manoj Kotak, BJP group leader in the civic body, didn’t even know about the stay order. “If Raj Purohit has declared it, then it is authentic and right,” he stated. The civic body had already started marking parking spaces for residents, despite the latter’s apprehensions. After learning of loopholes and problems through the pilot project, it had planned to implement the policy in the entire city.


'Let BMC decide'
Meanwhile, activists and NGOs believe the state should not have interfered in a city matter. Nitai Mehta, founder of Praja Foundation, an NGO, said, “The CM should not have intervened. He should have let the BMC take a decision. Had the BMC been doing something wrong, his (CM) involvement would’ve been necessary.

Why do such a thing in legitimate work? Politicians keep intervening to woo their voters, but in the long term, citizens should pay for using space on the roads. If they can afford luxurious cars and space in garages, paying the BMC should not be a problem.”

BMC speak
Additional municipal commissioner SVR Srinivas said, “I am yet to see the order. I will have to study it.”

- Inputs: Dharmendra Jore

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