Parking drive nosedives: BMC starts clamping cars, clogs roads

Updated: Jul 11, 2019, 14:22 IST | Chetna Yerunkar

As criticism mounts against stringent parking regime, civic body decides against towing away illegally parked cars to its lots, draws criticism

Parking drive nosedives: BMC starts clamping cars, clogs roads
Some cars parked near Phoenix Mall were clamped at the roadside itself. PIC/ Ashish Raje

The civic body too seems to be no exception to the roadside parking routine. After towing vehicles parked on roadsides and fining errant motorists for three days since Sunday, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has itself begun clamping errant vehicles on the roadside, dampening their own initiative of decongesting roads. The G South ward, despite its six public parking lots (PPLs) where towed vehicles can be kept, has been leaving them on the roads with clamps.
 
The BMC had begun penalising vehicles parked on roads that are within a 500-metre radius of a PPL to ease traffic. Many residents, especially in South Mumbai, had opposed this move after which the municipal commissioner on Wednesday instructed the ward officers to penalise heavy and medium motor vehicles such as private buses, tempos, trucks rather than focusing on two-wheelers and cars.

Also Read: South Mumbai residents to sue BMC over new parking fee regime

The civic body's decision to fine motorists was met with serious criticism from many with some residents even preparing to approach the court. Instructions were then given to go slow on two-wheelers, said a civic official who was part of the review meeting called by Municipal Commissioner Pravin Pardeshi. The penalties for heavy motor vehicles parked on roads is Rs 15,000 to Rs 23,250 and for medium motor vehicles is Rs 11,000 to Rs 17,600.

BMC Guards
BMC-appointed guards issuing warnings regarding no parking on roadsides. Pic /Ashish Raje

Towing vans were given to every ward with PPLs to take action and the contractors appointed on these were ex-army men responsible for clearing the roads and taking action against errant vehicle owners. The towed vehicles were being taken to the nearest PPL. The citizens had to pay a fine amount at the ward office before collecting their vehicles from here. With clamping, the vehicle owner pays the fine amount and a civic staff then comes along to open the locked clamp.

Also Read: Mumbai: Park your cars at these BMC designated parking lots to avoid hefty fines

On-field warnings

On Wednesday, the area around Phoenix Mall in Lower Parel (G South ward), Senapati Bapat Marg which is known for heavy traffic jams, saw a number of cars and two-wheelers clamped on the roadside during heavy peak hours. Civic sources revealed that the same method will be used across wards to save the trips of towing vehicles. On-site contractors said that they were giving a chance to the vehicle owners to remove their vehicles. Announcements for awareness are also being made, they said, before finally taking action against those who didn't adhere to the warnings.

Such announcements were made at the Senapati Bapat Marg on Wednesday. Contractors also said that they were giving some time to people who had parked their vehicles for a very brief while.

Devendrakumar Jain, Assistant Municipal Commissioner of G South ward, said, "The decision of collecting penalties is not for revenue addition but for inculcating discipline and behavioural change in the citizens. We are clamping vehicles after several warnings. If the owner doesn't take it away in a day or two, it will be towed to the PPLs. Two-wheelers will not be our major targets but heavy motor vehicles and commercial vehicles parked on roads add to most traffic hassles. They will be targeted."

He added that clamping was a better solution for all since it also meant considerably lower fines. The fines collected include towing charges, which will not be applied if the vehicle is clamped, Jain said.

An official of the G South ward said, "There is good response from citizens as many have begun using the parking lots an. Our focus is on getting rid of double parking with contractors taking constant rounds of all areas."

Citizens confused

Godfrey Pimenta of Watchdog Foundation said that by keeping vehicles on the roads, "the entire purpose of the BMC is defeated because if the owner fails to take away his vehicle, it will be a nuisance." He added, "The BMC has absolutely no powers to tow or clamp vehicles as it is to be done by authorised officials under the Motor Vehicle Act."

Transport expert Jitendra Gupta echoed similar views. "This is a trap for the citizens."

Another transport expert Ashok Datar, however, said that it was "an important initiative for bringing in discipline." However about the clamps, "it depends on which roads and where they are done and whether traffic is affected due to it."

Also Read: Mumbai: SoBo residents protest BMC's new 'fine' tuned no parking charges

Bmc Guard
BMC-appointed guard issuing warnings regarding no parking on roadsides. Pics /Ashish Raje

What to do if your vehicle is towed

  • Check for boards placed at every 10 to 50 metres, displaying details of where your vehicle has been taken along with phone numbers.
  • Visit the ward office concerned and pay the fine amount at the Citizens Facilitation Centre.
  • Pay a late fine if you are have failed to claim your car before 8 pm the same day.
  • Go to the PPL to take your vehicle.
  • If clamped, visit the spot and get it unlocked by a civic staffer.

Things to remember:

  • Details of your vehicles will be provided by towing contractor to the ward office
  • The BMC towing action takes place from 7 am to 5 pm
  • The CFCs are operational between 8 am and 8 pm
  • There is no option of digital fine payment
  • If you fail to pay the fine before 8 pm, you must wait for the next day to do so

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