No-parking zones below Metro a Karachi airport attack fallout?

Jun 11, 2014, 08:10 IST | Sagar Rajput and Ranjeet Jadhav

Speculation is rife that yesterday’s notice demarcating no-parking zones, which mentions safety and security of commuters, could be due to the twin attacks at the Karachi airport

Yesterday’s notice declaring areas near Metro stations as no-parking zones has led to speculation on whether it could be a result of the attacks on the Karachi airport, apart from the usual congestion argument.

Sunday’s attack on Karachi airport Pakistan’s busiest and largest in which 30 people were killed, was followed by one yesterday when a group of gunmen on motorbikes opened fire at a security academy on the airport premises.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for both the attacks and, while no casualties were reported in yesterday’s attack, airports in India have been on alert.

The no-parking notice bore the signature of Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Quaiser Khalid, and stated that as per the Station Area Management and Inter Model Integration Plan for the safety and security of commuters from Versova to Ghatkopar, areas in a 100-20-m radius around Versova, D N Nagar and Azad Nagar Metro stations have been declared no-parking zones.

When mid-day contacted ACP Khalid, he said, “The notice was issued in order to avoid congestion near Metro stations. If cars are parked below Metro stations, they would cause inconvenience to commuters.” Asked about the security angle, as cars are often used to plant bombs, Khalid tried avoiding the question and said, “The security measures are meant to prevent accidents due to congestion below the Metro station.”

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Pratap Dighavkar said, “Our first priority is to avoid congestion and traffic near Metro stations and our surveys have revealed that parking near these stations is a major cause. Only in the light of this are we concentrating on the security issue of the stations.”

'Remove reliance Metro boards'
The MMRDA yesterday asked the MMOPL, which runs the Metro, to remove the contentious ‘Reliance Metro’ boards wherever they have been put up. MMRDA Commissioner UPS Madan said, “We have asked the MMOPL to remove the ‘Reliance Metro’ boards from all the places where they have been put up.”

Problem may persist despite no-parking notice

Residents of areas close to the Versova, Andheri, Azad Nagar, D N Nagar and Western Express Highway Metro stations have been complaining about unauthorised parking taking place near the stations as well as in the area under the elevated Metro tracks.

Speaking to mid-day, social worker Prakash Gidwani said, “It is good that the Metro service has started but the problem now is that many two-wheelers and even some cars are parked under the elevated Metro tracks and close to the stations. People have been coming to take a joyride since Sunday and they park their vehicles in these places, causing congestion.”

The Federation of Cooperative Housing Societies of Model Town has also written to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and traffic department and asked them to take action against those parking their vehicles illegally in the corridor below the Metro tracks. Signs requesting people not to park on the Model Town road, as it is a private road, have also been put up by the federation.

“The road within Model Town is a private layout road and we have written to MMRDA that we will not allow any kind of parking on it,” said the Federation’s secretary, Dattaji Desai. Residents say that while the notice demarcating no-parking zones will be of some help, the traffic police usually tow away vehicles during the daytime, while most people come for joyrides in the evening. On Sunday and Monday, too, when the police had to tow away several vehicles, most of it was done in the daytime.

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