Bowing to pressure from corporators cutting across political lines, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided not to charge higher parking fees from citizens. The BMC Improvements Committee has rejected the proposal to revise parking lot charges, arguing that it would be a burden on the “common man” who drives his car to work.
The proposal was tabled before the committee on Thursday and a unanimous decision was taken to reject the revised rates. “If the administration goes for a steep hike in parking fees, people will try to evade paying the fees anyway. Instead of increasing revenue by charging more for parking, the department shouldcontrol traffic,” said Mohsin Haidar, a Congress corporator. He,in fact, argued that “the common man” should not be chargedfor parking his vehicle in the city.
Ramesh Koparkar, another member, said, “First of all, the BMC should widen roads, provide better footpaths and roads instead of increasing parking charges.” Dnyanmutri Sharma, a BJP member, suggested that the BMC should follow a model followed at one time in Thailand and allow odd and even number vehicles on alternate days so that the number of vehicles would be lesser on roads.
Another member, Prakash Gangadhare, proposed that the BMC should construct underground parking lots below play grounds and recreation centres. While explaining the administration’s view, SVR Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner claimed that revised parking charges would affect only 10 per cent of the city population, mainly the well-to-do who own cars. “Almost 90 per cent of the city population uses public transport. Nearly 60 lakh people use local train whereas 40 lakh others use BEST buses, so it won’t be a burden on the majority,” said Srinivas. But his argument went in vain.
On the road widening issue, Srinivas said that higher parking charges would mean less cars being parked on the road. This would automatically give greater space to other vehicles. He also countered the plan for underground parking lots saying, “It will be a very expensive solution.”
The proposal had sought the revised rates to discourage non-Mumbai vehicles coming into the city, particularly to South Mumbai. The BMC already has parking lots divided into three categories based on business, the average revenue it generates and timing of parking. The busiest slots are put together in ‘A’ category, while the lesser and least busy are divided in ‘B’ and ‘C’ categories.