South Mumbai residents, BMC spar over parking charges at meeting

Tempers flew at BMC vs SoBo residents' meeting over proposed four-figure parking charges

Approximately 30 South Mumbai residents met the Additional Municipal Commissioner, SVR Srinivas on Friday afternoon, for a discussion on the proposed pay ‘n’ park policy. This policy says that residents will have to pay a fee of Rs 1,800 per month for parking their cars on certain South Mumbai roads, all of ‘A’ ward, specifically, from 8 pm to 8 am.

SoBo speaks loud  and clear, do you hear Mr.  S V R Srinivas? The addl municipal commissioner (c) listens as angry residents spew ire and fire
SoBo speaks loud  and clear, do you hear Mr.  S V R Srinivas? The addl municipal commissioner (c) listens as angry residents spew ire and fire

BJP MLA Raj Purohit facilitated the meeting, after residents approached him over the controversial policy, which was n stayed in January 2015 by the state government. However, a letter from municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta to the state government last year, asking them to re-look its decision on staying the policy, has opened the debate once again.

Huddled together outside the BMC office opposite Azad Maidan, residents were fuming, jotting down points to counter the reasons BMC would offer in favour of the policy.

"The current policy is completely flawed and aimed towards making our lives difficult. We will not let it be implemented, we will fight them," said Ajay Multani, Colaba resident striking a combative early note.

The meeting, which started deceptively calmly, with Srinivas taking the residents through the details of the policy through a powerpoint presentation, degenerated within a few minutes. Residents began to shout, counter questioning officials, while citing grievances.

"Instead of taxing us for parking cars, remove illegal hawkers who take up footpaths. Big hotels in the area have encroached on so much space that could have otherwise be used for parking, you need to tackle that first," said Pervez Cooper. Cooper’s suggestion was greeted by applause by residents. They then told the civic authorities that there should be underground parking lots under gardens. They were also irked at why they were specifically targeted and stated that the policy has to be implemented across the city. Apart from money they (BMC) will charge, residents are also miffed that there is no guarantee of the space they have paid for.

While the BMC officers tried to calm down the residents, they refused to be placated. "We poor people have no space, what about hawkers?" asked one, to which an officer scathingly retorted, "Yes, clearly South Mumbai residents are poor. How many cars do you own?"

The hour-long meeting finally concluded with a consensus that the residents would get 15 days to study the policy and make suggestions, post which it will be presented to the state government for consideration.

"Once the suggestions are in, I will present it to the state government, who will then decide whether to vacate the stay on the policy or not," said Purohit.

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