While the suburb has witnessed a wave of construction projects, citizens say the roads are too narrow and traffic rules are broken every day; parking space is also hard to come by
Panvel has witnessed a sea change in recent years. Once a village, it has now become the most populated city in Raigad district.
Illegal parking in Panvel further reduces space on the already narrow roads
However, the city does not have adequate infrastructure and amenities to match the rising population. According to Citizen’s Unity Forum, a citizens group in Panvel, roads in the old part of the city are not wide enough to handle the increasing traffic. Neither are there proper footpaths, gardens and public spaces.
Arun Bhise, president of the forum, said, “Panvel has changed a lot, but it lacks the basic amenities that are in abundance in cities like Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. The traffic situation in the city has gone out of hand. There are no rules, no one-ways; there are no CCTV cameras in the city. This is always a threat to the security of the citizens.” During festivals, the situation only becomes worse.
Citizens complain that scant regard for traffic rules and the lack of CCTV cameras puts them at great risk
While builders have launched residential projects by the dozen, there are no parking spaces allotted in them as the municipal council rules do not mandate such a provision. Moreover, illegal parking under flyovers, on the road and near educational institutes is rampant.
There are about 3,500 illegal hawkers in who hog space on roads, footpaths and even parking lots
Manohar Limaye (60), a resident of Panvel, said, “I have been staying here for the past 50 years. New buildings here do not have parking space because as per the municipality rules, allotting space for parking is optional here. Builders ignore parking woes with an intention to make profit.” Residents added that these issues were mainly observed in the gaonthan areas, and that New Panvel was a better-planned area.
Hawkers, water issues
Besides parking woes, the old city also has several illegal hawkers who crowd the footpaths meant for the public. Of the 3,500-odd hawkers in Panvel, only 569 are registered; the rest are unauthorised.
Furthermore, these hawkers encroach upon the few municipality parking lots present.
Another resident, Amit Ranadive (32), added, “In some areas, water supply is scant. Drainage systems cannot handle heavy rains and within an hour of showers, water from the drains floods onto the roads.” Locals also demanded more gardens and public spaces. Despite having complained, met and written letters to the concerned officials, nothing has been done.
When mid-day spoke to City Engineer Sanjay Katekar, he said, “We are aware of the problems faced by the citizens of Panvel and hence, we are currently working on a development plan that will cater to their needs for the next 20 years. As far as the growing number of buildings is concerned, the city is limited to a maximum of 15 storeys, and the number is quite few.
Widening of roads is also included in our development plan.” Sanjay Singh Yenpure, deputy commissioner of police (Zone-II) said, “It will take time to stabilise the traffic issues in Panvel. Everybody, including our department and the municipality, should take necessary initiatives at their level. As the development plan is being made, the situation is bound to improve in coming years.”