Of the many absurdities surrounding life in this city, one is that buying your own vehicle here is a far simpler task than successfully finding a nook in which to park it. For an Indian city that claims to be ahead of all others in the race called development, it is difficult to digest the fact that Mumbai, in all its sprawling enormity, doesn’t even have enough parking space for even one per cent of the total number of vehicles on its streets.
No wonder we have vehicles, rows and rows of them, lining roads, pavements, parks and even the seamy underbellies of flyovers. And for a city where conspicuous consumerism trumps each day over resource-efficient and sustainable growth, the numbers of vehicles is swelling by the second, compounding the grinding space crunch. On an average, 750 vehicles are registered at the RTO offices every day.
Even setting aside the greed for material acquisition, a private vehicle is fast becoming more of a necessity than a luxury here. In the trains, passengers are packed like sardines. The flagging BEST bus services are unreliable and limited, and the monorail and metrorail facilities seem stuck in a time warp. Taxis and rickshaws fleece and bully.
The blame for these anarchical conditions must be put on our unimaginative urban planners, who are always been satisfied by temporary short-sighted solutions. To inspire them, here’s a nudge: The High Court has suggested that the entry of vehicles on city roads be regularised systematically: for instance, vehicles ending with odd numbers on their plates could be allowed out on certain days of the week, alternating with vehicles with even numbers on their plates.
Expectedly, the state government has discarded the idea without so much as a trial. But out-of-the-box, ingenious solutions are the need of the hour. Let the state be warned — time and space are fast running out.