Mumbai: Why Chira Bazaar residents are parking cars at Nariman Point

They claim that trucks used by godowns in the area to load and unload goods are parked there all day; say the truck drivers eat, sleep, wash clothes, bathe, defecate, drink and do drugs there

The residents of Chira Bazaar’s Dr Viegas Street and Cavel street have been dealing with the menace of illegal parking for several years. Originally a residential area, there are now a number of shops-cum-godowns in the basements of many buildings.

Residents of Chira Bazaar claim the tempos and trucks are parked in the area all day
Residents of Chira Bazaar claim the tempos and trucks are parked in the area all day

Residents allege that none of these godowns have licences, or fire-fighting equipment and claim the problems caused by the illegal parking are now so severe that one resident is confined to his house, following an accident involving a handcart, while another family wants to move out.

Anil Mehta was hit by a handcart twice on the same day and had to be hospitalised for two months after that
Anil Mehta was hit by a handcart twice on the same day and had to be hospitalised for two months after that

The godowns have several trucks parked in front of them for loading and unloading of goods. Residents say these trucks stay parked the entire day. Although one side of the street is a strict no-parking zone, the other side is meant for parking of vehicles belonging to residents.

One side of the street is meant for parking for locals, but trucks are always parked there. Even handcarts are kept there
One side of the street is meant for parking for locals, but trucks are always parked there. Even handcarts are kept there

However, handcarts, goods tempos, trucks, and sometimes even trailers are parked here, and since most of these buildings don’t have a parking facility, citizens are forced to park their vehicles in pay-and-park facilities as far as Nariman Point.

Hundreds of school children cram the already crowded Viegas street when the Baretto school starts and gets over
Hundreds of school children cram the already crowded Viegas street when the Baretto school starts and gets over

Cars damaged
“If we park our four wheelers here, they are either scratched or the air is taken out of the tyres. It has happened so many times with my car, that I have stopped parking it here. I keep it at my other house in Borivli,” said Jayant Soni, a resident.

Residents say truck drivers and workmen eat, sleep, wash clothes, bathe and even defecate in the area. They allegedly drink and do drugs behind the trucks after dark. The residents added that incidents of harassment have increased manifold, and women don’t feel safe in the area anymore.

The situation is at its worst when the nearby Baretto school commences or ends every day. Hundreds of school children and their parents cram the narrow road Viegas street which is already congested with trucks, tempos and hand carts.

Residents frustrated
“We have been staying in this area for nine years. I have been parking my car at Nariman Point for the past few years and then coming back on a two-wheeler. Evenings on weekdays are the worst. We are so fed up with the situation that we have decided to move to Thakurdwar now,” said Kamini Mavani, a resident.

Another resident, Ramavtar Chandak, said that every day someone gets hurt by a handcart running over his or her foot. In July 2012, a real estate agent, Anil Mehta, got hit by a handcart so badly that he had to be hospitalised for two months. “It wasn’t once, but the same handcart hit me twice the same day.

I did not take a tetanus injection and the the wound got infected. The doctor told me they would have to operate or I would lose my leg,” Mehta told mid-day. The sole breadwinner of the house, Mehta underwent an operation, and incurred hospital expenses of R45,000 which were paid by his friends and neighbours.

Both of Mehta’s legs have been saved but they are perpetually swollen, and the 58 year-old has to hobble around. He is mostly confined to his house. Asked why he did not file a complaint against the handcart workers, he said that all the workers in the area have a union, which he doesn’t want to pick a fight with.

And not just him, but several residents are scared of confronting the truck workers and godown owners. A resident, Bernard Cravasso, has been fighting against the illegal activities for the past several years, writing to the BMC, local MLA Raj Purohit, the traffic police and local police. His latest letter to all these authorities, signed by 245 families from the area, is dated July 8.

“Never have I seen a traffic policeman in this area. They are managed. The BMC should also check the licences of these godown owners. Since this lane is right opposite Hanuman Gully in Kalbadevi where a fire on May 9 killed four firemen, the narrow lane and wooden buildings are all the more reason for concern,” he said.

Residents now want the traffic police to crack down heavily on the illegal parking and maintain a strict period for loading/unloading of goods. They also want overnight parking of vehicles and water tankers on the road to be strictly prohibited.

Police speak
“I have only taken charge two days ago. Chira Bazaar and the adjacent areas have a lot of parking related problems in every street. I have received a complaint in this particular matter and action will be taken from Monday onwards,” said D G Kajave, police inspector of Kalbadevi traffic police.

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