Even as one thought that the parking policy promised in the NMMC Budget 2008 – 2009 would become an un-kept promise of the budget, NMMC Commissioner Vijay Nahata presented the first multi-level car parking proposal at the NMMC Standing Committee. However, it’s been a month to this and the proposal still hangs in the balance. We begin our weekend exclusive with a report that sums up the present traffic issue that haunts Navi Mumbai before moving our main story for today titled “The real story behind NMMC’s multi level car parking proposal”. If one studies the number of vehicles adding on the city roads today, a grave situation awaits Navi Mumbai’s tomorrow. According to statistics at the Regional Transport Office, 30, 000 vehicles are adding to the city every year that poses a grim picture in the coming 6 years. As of today, NMMC does not have any policy or system to take control of the situation that is going out of hand. Worst remains CIDCO’s negligence. Despite being the single planning authority of Navi Mumbai, they are selling plots to developers adjacent to city roads for commercial benefits closing all doors for future expansions of these roads. And who doesn’t know that one of the root causes of traffic menace in Navi Mumbai is due to the violations made by several builders in projects – something that even former Dy. Chief Minister and Home Minister R R Patil had pointed. What has added to the nightmarish traffic congestion is the invasion of the mall culture specifically in Vashi. Built completely out of any planning decorum, the malls in Sector 19 D Vashi and around Vashi Railway Station have made commuting in the nights havoc for all. The junction near Palm Beach Galleria and City Centre has become one of the busiest areas where hundreds of cars illegally park during the weekend on the main highway and inner roads. Car owners take little responsibility for violating rules and pushed the blamed on NMMC and the mall management. Some say that parking facility in the malls is inadequate while others say that the charges for parking were another reason for parking on the main road. And it’s often the local residents who face the inconvenience caused due to the traffic mess. Another epicenter causing traffic troubles is Big Splash at Sector 17, Vashi. One reason why the building failed to get an Occupancy Certificate from NMMC is that the builder of this massive commercial complex did not provide parking space as was shown in the plan for 110 vehicles. And even though the builder procured part OC that permits shops and commercial businesses to function at Big Splash, the parking norms violations of Big Splash causes a permanent bottle-neck in the area. The same was reiterated by a resident of Vashi, Sandeep Thakur in an interview with NMTV who said that NMMC would never take action against Big Splash as it is connected with big politicians. All these parking woes aren’t new problems that the city is facing but something that has multiplied over time in the last two years. This is the reason why when NMMC declared formation of a parking policy in NMMC Budget 2008 – 2009, there was much relief among Navi Mumbaikars. The proposal presented to the Standing Committee January 7 was for building a multi storeyed car parking in Vashi Sector 15 / 16. However Chairman Sandeep Naik stayed the proposal since the project called for a clear presentation on the project by the administration so that members could understand the concept better. The next week, the administration invited the contractor of the project M/s Ramratna Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd. to make a presentation on the puzzle car parking. Sensing that there was more to the proposal that what met the eye, members Namdeo Bhagat and Sudhakar Sonawane voiced concern whether this project would be cost effective or not and demanded that the members be taken for a site visit of the puzzle parking facility made by the contractor in Mumbai before approving the project. Accordingly, Standing Committee Chairman Sandeep Naik said that members needs to study how the system would work, the cost of power that the facility would require to function and reiterated the need to visit a site where such a facility existed. Till that visit, the Standing Committee stayed the proposal. The next week, the administration against presented the proposal to the Standing Committee without any arrangement of the site visit. For the third time, Standing Committee Chairman Sandeep Naik stayed the proposal asking the administration to arrange for a visit. The administration did not pay heed to this instruction of the Chairman and again presented the parking proposal for the fourth time. Again Standing Committee Chairman Sandeep Naik stayed the proposal making it clear that the proposal would not be taken up till a site visit was arranged by the administration. And this week, the proposal was just removed from the agenda. The silver lining is that the public representatives have a chance to decide how useful or feasible is it to invest Crores of public funds in building multi level car parking projects to bring a solution to problems that arise from the very violations of NMMC’s own laws by builders and mall owners. Investing Rs. 10 Crores of public funds in one multi level car parking project in a power deficit city will definitely not solve the problem. City resident Adv Rahul Thakur says multi level car parking solutions is just another conspiracy of NMMC to squander public funds in yet another infrastructure project. He added that there are enough rules to books builders and mall owners for violations and not providing parking space but says that when the arresters are party to violations for personal benefit who will take action. What the city needs on priority is a comprehensive parking policy where NMMC will widen roads, remove encroachment on pavements, check illegal parking but when NMMC goes on giving permits for commercial exploitation to residential complexes on main roads the city is bound to go through hell in terms of traffic menace. Adv Rahul Thakur says that in the name of multi level car parking solution NMMC only wants to further abuse the system for corruption. Instead of bringing the violators to book or making stringent laws and rule or drafting a parking policy, the NMMC allegedly conspires with builders and mall owners and chooses to float infrastructure projects one after the other – more for kickbacks and vested profits than for interests of the citizens of the city. A disastrous situation stares Navi Mumbai in the face due to parking crisis. In all its probability NMMC’s parking policy will become one of the un-kept promises of the budget and Crores of public taxes will be parked in the name of multi level car parking solutions. Experts believe that unless NMMC tightens its net on violating builders and mall owners, the corporation will end up draining your taxes to fill the coffers of a few and the city will be submerged in the tide of the impending parking crisis.
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