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Park-and-eat joints to face police music

Those of you accustomed to enjoying a juicy kebab, pav bhaji or a late-night icecream from the cosy comfort of your cars, you may no longer get a chance to do so. The civic and traffic authorities, peeved with a flood of traffic complaints from locals residing around the eateries, have decided to act tough on the park-and-eat food stalls and their patrons who hold up traffic on the street. 

After an influx of over 200 complaints from various suburbs in a single day (see box), the traffic department along with the BMC yesterday started a rigorous drive against illegal parking creating gnarls and jams around food stalls. “We have received complaints from residents of various localities regarding snarls around these illegal joints. These joints often serve food to illegally parked cars blocking the flow of vehicles. To curb this, we have to come down hard on these joints as wells as the drivers who are found parking their vehicles in no-parking zones,” said a senior official from the traffic police department.

The official said that 25 traffic chowkies have been asked to register cases against street stalls in their respective areas and their patrons who park illegally. “We have started a drive against roadside eateries that cause obstruction to traffic,” confirmed Brijesh Singh, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic). A traffic police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said that notorious areas identified during the drive included Dadar TT, Maheshwari Udyan (Matunga), the entire stretch near Tulip Star hotel (Juhu), Charkop (Kandivli), and near Bhagwati hospital (Borivli). “We keep undertaking such campaigns, but this time, we have received special instructions from the headquarters to take the drive seriously and not to entertain any excuses while fining people responsible for traffic jams,” said a senior police inspector (suburb).


Not-so-fine dining: A customer being served in his car outside an eatery at Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar 

‘Need stern action’
Residents and citizen groups have for long been demanding such firm action. Madhu Poplai, ALM Union Park, said, “The BMC needs to take stern action against illegal roadside eateries flourishing at the expense of residents. We are happy that the authorities are doing something. The action should be such that citizens should think twice before parking their cars in no-parking areas. It is the need of the hour. We hope the campaign doesn’t fizzle out.” “Heavy fines should be imposed on these roadside eateries. Why should these illegal joints profit at our cost? We have been taking the issue with them for years. Finally, we can see some action. It is good to see clean and empty roads, which has become almost an idealistic vision for us. I hope the drive goes on for long,” said Neeta Bajpai, resident of Juhu.


Street service: A fast food stall and a juice centre serve customers in their vehicles parked by the roadside near Maheshwari Udyan, Matunga.  Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

‘Where to park?’
Sachin Upadhyay, who often visits Sukh Sagar eatery at Charni Road, said, “I often go there to have pav bhaji. I do understand how this creates chaos but customers can’t help it. When we have a driver, it’s ok but when we drive on our own, we have no option left. There is no place in Mumbai for parking, so I have to eat sitting in my car.” Shubhangi More, marketing executive from Andheri, said, “I am left with no choice but to park my car on the road and go to Chowpatty to eat. We do understand the traffic problem but the police should provide us with a list of parking areas. They know the areas where there are more roadside eateries and also people love to eat. Why don’t they give some designated parking for areas where there are more eateries?”

Eateries speak
“We cannot help if customers park their vehicles in no-parking areas. They come here to eat but we cannot forbid them from parking. Ours is a pay-and-park area so we have nothing to worry about as people pay to park vehicles,” said Jamal Sheikh, owner, Bade Miyan eatery in Colaba.

Case study
The number of cases registered against illegal parking on Wednesday
Area                         No of cases

Bandra to Juhu           71
Juhu to Versova         22
Matunga                      50
Kandivli                       35
Worli                            40 

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