mid-day campaign: Footpaths openly enroached on in Thane and Navi Mumbai even outside police station
It's the same story across Thane and Navi Mumbai, where footpaths are brazenly encroached on, even in front of police stations
If the footpaths in Mumbai and its suburbs have virtually disappeared under encroachments, those in the satellite cities of Thane and Navi Mumbai seem to be far worse. In Navi Mumbai and Thane, mid-day found residents using the footpaths as their private parking space, with no fear of the authorities.
Rabale, Navi Mumbai
The footpath adjacent to Rabale Police Station is full of police and residents' bikes. The entire footpath is covered with bikes, leaving no space for pedestrians to walk. "This is a police station for heaven's sake. At least here there must be some action taken. But one thing is for sure, citizens in general and the police have stopped using footpaths for the reason they were built . Every available space here is not used for vehicles. Barricading footpaths from all sides and making them walker friendly is the need of the hour. There should be a movement for pedestrians' rights and the traffic police and civic bodies should support it, said Meenakshi Rao, another resident.
Wagle Estate, Thane
Around Wagle Estate, footpaths have been taken over by vehicles belonging to builders and their staff. A resident, Jailaxmi Nair, said, "Everyone needs to ask them why and with whose permission they have parked on the footpath. Even footpaths should display no-parking boards to get people to toe the line." Another resident said, "It is not just cars and bikes, but also trucks and other large vehicles. As construction work on high-rises is on, people take the liberty of parking on footpaths. The heavy trucks are then half on the road and half on the footpath. The damage done to the footpath in such cases is permanent and one cannot ever walk on it again."
Koparkhairane, Navi Mumbai
Well-known companies and car service centres brazenly park bikes and four-wheelers of customers on the footpaths. Nissan service centre, which is near Ashar IT park at Wagle Estate, and Okinawa scooters in Koparkhairane Sector 11, park bikes and cars on the footpath adjacent to their shops. Pedestrians have zero space to walk on. "In Navi Mumbai, the footpaths are wide, but they are being misused by car showrooms to park their entire fleet of vehicles. This is a bigger problem in Koparkhairane and Vashi stretch, where the roads have become huge marketplaces.
"The authorities can clearly put their foot down in such instances and take action against such open violations by commercial outlets," a senior citizen from Vashi said.
Another resident, Ajay Gala, said Sector 17 in Vashi was one of the other areas where such violations take place in a major way. "Just try and walk on the footpath from the highway junction, pass Shivaji Chowk and then Sector 17. One will find so many two-, three-, and four-wheelers parked on the footpaths. As the police and the civic authorities are unable to, or rather, not interested in taking action they should earmark footpaths for vehicles and build some other utility for pedestrians like skywalks or walkways and ensure that they are not encroached on."
Several footpaths in the Panchpakhadi area are encroached on by local residents or shopkeepers who use it to park their vehicles, leaving commuters with no option but to walk on the roads, dodging traffic. Children on their way to and from school are the worst affected. Around Saraswati school the footpaths are lined by parked cars. Car owners say they have no option because the civic body has not made any parking arrangements in the busy area. Jatin Gala, who has parked his vehicle here, said, "There is no space for parking. Where should we park? The TMC should have more parking lots for regulars who come to Thane for work."
'NMMC should create more parking lots for daily commuters who come here for work or business. Every day, we see cars of shopkeepers or garage owners parked on footpaths. There is absolutely no action taken by authorities. Who is responsible if a pedestrian forced to walk on the road meets with an accident?'
Rakesh Sawant, Koparkhairne
'Footpaths are for us and not for parking vehicles on. I was taking my two daughters to school one day when a car driver honked at us thrice, indicating that we should get off the footpath as he wanted to park on it. This is absolutely ridiculous'
Jitendra Wani, a resident
'Our cities are in need of a solid parking policy, which TMC and NMMC do not have. There should be proper discussions with builders about providing parking facilities. Also, in all the cases, shopkeepers do not have much option for parking. So, whoever comes to the shop, parks their vehicle on the footpath'
Mayuresh Bhadsawle, expert
It is totally the apathy of the BMC as well as ours that we do not care about others' problems. All of Mumbai is facing parking problems and encroached pavements, especially parking outside hospitals. Hospitals that see thousands of patients every day are struggling to tackle this issue. Patients' families and pedestrians have a lot of trouble negotiating footpaths thanks to illegal parking. These motorists should consider others' difficulties and not park there. The BMC must tackle illegal parking on an urgent basis.
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