Why BMC is unable to provide more parking lots to Mumbaikars

Jan 16, 2015, 06:30 IST | Chetna Yerunkar and Laxman Singh

While the civic body has promised to increase parking lots in Mumbai, many plots reserved for this purpose in its Development Plan either have buildings on them, or have been encroached by slums

Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) seems to have dug another hole for itself. While the civic body has passed a new parking policy allowing a four-fold hike in parking charges, the civic body will, in all possibility, be unable to provide more parking lots to citizens.

The reason? Many of the parking plots identified in the Development Plan 2014 for the city are already in use — either by existing structures, or illegal encroachment by slums.

According to the new parking policy passed on Friday, the BMC has divided areas into categories A, B, and C based on the business, average revenue generated and timings. The busiest category A will have the maximum charges — four wheelers will have to pay Rs 60/hour, from the earlier R15/hour. This includes areas like Fort, Hutatma Chowk, Horniman Circle, etc. Under category B is Regal cinema, Police Gymkhana, Napean Sea Road, where charges for four-wheelers would be Rs 40/hour.

The civic body is preparing to implement the policy on a pilot basis in the A ward, a decision that was panned by legislators and citizens alike since the civic body is unable to provide parking spaces. Even cars parked outside residential societies will be charged under the same slab.

While Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had asked the BMC to create parking lots, and the civic body itself had promised to do so, it seems highly impossible they will make good on their words.

The problem
The civic body currently has 92 parking plots in the city. According to its DP, the civic body has made reservations for 171 parking plots in the city. Of these, 99 of the plots are occupied by a residential building, a commercial unit, or a slum. The remaining plots are vacant, or have been handed over to the BMC. It must be noted that vacant doesn’t imply the BMC owns it. They may have a private owner.

According to BMC officials, acquisition of land reserved for parking plots is an uphill task. On land occupied by legal buildings, the civic body has to wait until the structure comes up for redevelopment.

In case of slums, the BMC will find it a tough task to vacate the plot, since the residents may have been living there for many years and will need to be given alternative accommodation. Even in case of vacant lots, officials have to approach the owner and ask him to set aside the area they had reserved as per the DP.

mid-day visited five such reserved plots in the city to gauge the situation.

Near Gilbert Hill, Andheri (West)
Near Gilbert Hill, Andheri (West)
Area: 2,038 square metres
Status: Encumbered
This plot is encumbered with slums. Encumbered is the status BMC has mentioned in its DP, referring to a structure that is restricting creation of a parking lot, but not illegal. According to local corporator Mohsin Haider from the Congress, the Slum Redevelopment Authority (SRA) will soon redevelop the shanties, and the developer would hand over the parking lot of appropriate size to the BMC.

Malvani, Malad (West)
Malvani, Malad (West)
Area: 1,568 square metres
Status: Encroached
According to the DP, this piece of land near Ambojwadi is reserved for parking, but a huge slum has come up right on it. The hutments have been here for many years, and the BMC cannot simply demolish the shanties, since the residents need to be provided with alternative accommodation, a very expensive proposition for the BMC.

Near railway station, Kurla (West)
Near railway station, Kurla (West)
Area: 8,095 square metres
Status: Encumbered
This huge plot near the railway station on S G Barve Marg currently has transit camps. An SRA building shall soon come up on the site, and BMC officials claimed the acquisition procedure for the parking lot would soon be carried out. This means the developer will create the parking space for the civic body on completion of the project.

Near railway station, Kurla (West)
Near railway station, Kurla (West)
Area: 949 square metres
Status: Encumbered
According to the DP plan, this plot, also on S G Barve Marg near Kurla station, is encumbered with slums and eateries that have been here for many years. Officials said it is difficult to convert these places into parking lots, until
the owners put it up for redevelopment or the slum goes into rehabilitation.

Nandi Galli, Bandra (West)
Nandi Galli, Bandra (West)
Area: 1,717 square metres
Status: Encumbered
This plot reservation is opposite the Nandi theatre near Bandra Talao, and currently has residential and commercial buildings. This, however, can be made into a parking lot only when the present structures come up for redevelopment. Until then, the BMC is helpless. Asif Zakaria, the local corporator, confirmed that the plot is indeed reserved for parking.

Pics/Datta Kumbhar, Sameer Markande

There are absolutely no facilities provided by the BMC and they increased parking charges massively. First create parking lots and then demand money; people will readily pay.
Devendra Amberkar, BMC leader of opposition from the Congress

About 50 to 60 per cent of the reservation plots are encroached by slums and cannot be developed unless the BMC moves them from there. This is again a task for the civic body to acquire the land.
Sandeep Deshpande, group leader, MNS

S V R Srinivas, additional municipal commissioner
We do have enough reservations but acquiring these plots is difficult. There should be a cap on the demand (for plots), as the supply is not unlimited. We have long-term plans of developing more plots, but if the vehicles keep increasing, it is difficult for us also to satisfy their requirements.

Senior official from the Development Plan department, requesting anonymity
Most of the plots are either with private parties, developers, or are encumbered by slums. Unless they come to BMC for permission and we see that the plot is reserved for parking, we cannot ask for the land directly. These parking lots can be developed only if the owner of the land wants to develop the property. Then, under the DP reservation, there needs to be a parking lot which should be handed over to the BMC.

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