Mumbai parking policy: BMC did not use its head to tow, allege activists
If traffic cops tow away your car, they charge you Rs 400, if BMC tows away your car, they charge you Rs 2,500 under the new parking regime, which citizens and activists say is absurd
The BMC's new parking policy has come under fire once again, this time over towing contractors. Activists have alleged that the civic body has not appointed its own towing agency and is using a contractor chosen by the traffic police, to whom they will now have to pay a part of the hefty towing charge for every vehicle fined. The police used to charge Rs 400 for the same task, while BMC is currently charging Rs 2,500 under the policy as towing charges.
Since July 7, BMC started the implementation of its new controversial parking policy under which those parking vehicles on the roads within a 500-metre radius of 28 public parking lots (PPL) would be charged with hefty fines. The decision has been met with serious criticism from various corners, with some south Mumbai residents even mulling approaching the court.
No new contractors
However, before implementing the policy, BMC forgot to appoint its own contractor for towing penalised vehicles. It is instead relying on a controversial contractor appointed by the traffic police. Now, the ward officers have been asked to use vehicles from BMC's removal of encroachment department if the traffic police-appointed contractor is unavailable.
Before implementing the policy, BMC forgot to appoint its own contractor for towing penalised vehicles. File pic
None of the ward offices have so far appointed any new contractors. Civic officials said whenever the scope of action increases, the machinery will be increased accordingly.
Further complicating matters, BMC did not discuss any payment of towing charges with the traffic police before using its services, claiming that it was a joint action and no money was involved.
But, traffic cops say the civic body will have to pay the contractor for their services. Joint commissioner (traffic) Madhukar Pandey said, "We are providing them [BMC] with the requirements whenever they ask, but BMC will have to bear the charges for whatever services of the contractor are being utilised. Those charges are not being borne by the traffic police." With this, the contractor appointed by the traffic police will now be in a win-win situation, pointed out activists. They also claimed that the towing charges under the new policy are Rs 2,500 for shifting a vehicle within a radius of just 500 meters, when the Mumbai police charges Rs 400 for the same task.
Helping the contractor?
Activists have alleged the heavy towing charges will now go to the existing contractor because civic officials did not float new tenders for new contractors. South mumbai resident and activist Dr Nilesh Baxi said,"[Under the Rs 10,000 fine] the division is Rs 7,500 for the penalty and Rs 2,500 for towing charges. Cops used to charge Rs 400 for the same. The contractor appointed by the traffic police was about to wind up operations as they were running into losses. Suddenly, they get a breather. Has this entire decision been taken to harass the citizens and help the contractor?"
Transport expert Jitendra Gupta said, "The towing charges are absurd and very high. We do not understand why the contractors should benefit out of this move. BMC has no power to take action and without even developing its own infrastructure, it is depending on the traffic police's mechanism to do so. The traffic police's contractor is marred in controversy but still, BMC wants to help them."
Meanwhile, the civic body has said that there is no connection between BMC and the traffic police contractor and the allegations are baseless. Rubbishing the allegations, a senior civic official said, "The action has been taken in coordination with the traffic police and thus, we have no idea about who the contractor is and what charges are to be paid to them as there was no formal discussion about the same."
Additional municipal commissioner Vijay Singhal said, "If the charges are demanded, we will accordingly pay, but for now, the action is being carried out in coordination with the traffic police. The towing charges collected from citizens will be utilised by wards for developmental works."
Meanwhile, after continuous opposition, Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Wednesday gave instructions to focus on penalising commercial and heavy vehicles more than the regular four and two-wheelers. The illegal parking penalties for heavy motor vehicles are between Rs 15,000 to Rs 23,250 and for medium motor vehicles are Rs 11,000 to Rs 17,600.
Amount of penalty from the R10k fine
Towing charges from the R10k fine
Amount charged by cops for towing
Rs 5,000: Heavy vehicles
Rs 3,300: Medium motor vehicles
Rs 2,500: Light motor vehicles
Rs 1,100: Three-wheelers
Rs 700: Two-wheelers
Relief for G South ward
Residential areas around PPL will soon get some relief with the G South ward office putting up a proposal to give discounted rates to residents of Senapati Bapat Marg. The ward office will be charging 50 percent less pay and park amount for one vehicle behind one house. The residents have been crying foul over the penalties and Shiv Sena corporators have demanded reducing pay and park rates by 50 percent for locals residing within 500 meters of PPLs. Sena corporator Samadhan Sarvankar said, "The local residents of G south ward who stay near the PPLs can pay a reasonable amount. We have put forth our demand in front of the municipal commissioner and he has agreed to it. It will be implemented soon."
Action against 96 vehicles
On Friday, BMC took action against 96 illegally parked vehicles across the seven zones of the city. It released 74 vehicles that had been in its possession for the past few days and earned R6,02,350 from the penalties charged on those vehicles. Further, BMC still has 117 vehicles in their possession as the owners have not come to take them back.
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