BMC, cops turn blind eye, say residents
MUMBAI: Parking of vehicles in two and, at times, three rows below the JJ flyover is causing much trouble by leading to endless traffic snarls, say those residing in the vicincity of Mohammed Ali road. The bumpers-to-bumper traffic, especially in the afternoons, also leaves traffic policemen helpless, with motorists often getting into arguments with men and women in khaki.
The residents say that the maze of vehicular traffic causes “much stress” every time they have to step out on the busy street.
Former legislator Sohail Lokhandwala said that residents of the locality have often lodged complaints with the police and the municipal corporation but nothing has belped. “I met the senior inspector of Pydhonie police station a couple of times to complain about double-row parking and illegal parking. Each time, I was assured that action would be initiated. But years have passed and the situation is just getting worse by the day,” said Lokhandwala.
He said that most of the time, bikers get unruly and refuse to listen even to the police if they warn them of action.
“These bikers don’t care about anyone. They park their bikes wherever they wish to,” he said, adding that illegal hawking on the street is only making matters worse as crowds of shoppers keep swelling. “Sometimes it takes me about 45 minutes by car just to cover less than 1 km below the JJ flyover,” Lokhandwala told TOI.
Shopkeepers from the locality said that “double parking”, which is illegal, is becoming rampant. “At some places along this stretch, double parking has become permanent,” said this shopkeeper, adding that drivers often get into arguments and fights with police personnel posted there.
The statistics bolster this view. During 2011-12, there were 83 cases of assault registered in which 39 police personnel suffered injuries that required treatment in hospital. The city, with an estimated population of over 1.5 crore, has merely 3,500 traffic police personnel, 350 of them women. Concerned over this, the traffic police department has distributed service guns to women police besides training them in karate.
A traffic police inspector said that there have been cases of assault, use of abusive language, misbehaviour, snatching of police caps and harassment of women constables. Statistics show that 20% of assaults on traffic police have taken place between Kalbadevi and Pydhonie areas.
With at least six schools in the locality, students and their parents have to use Mohammed Ali Road stretch to reach these educational institutes. A resident said that they are often compelled to jaywalk to reach the schools as the footpaths are congested. “Arguments or scuffles over parking and rash driving is a daily issue but the municipal authorities and the police turn a blind eye. It is difficult for us to even enter our buildings. If indeed they want smooth traffic flow below the JJ flyover, they should first clear the double parking and illegal hawkers from the area,” said the resident who asked not to be named. “But the police and BMC staff are hand-in-glove with those who park illegally.”
Anti-noise pollution activist, Sumaira Abdullali of Awaaz Foundation, said that while flyovers are built to ease traffic in the area, the authorities pay little attention to what happens below these flyovers.
Joint commissioner of police (traffic), Bhushan Upadhyay, said that the police faces a problem of parking vehicles which are towed away. “Even if we tow away vehicles, where will we keep them? We do tow away vehicles parked illegally, but have no space to keep them. There are thousands of such vehicles parked illegally across the city everyday. We don’t have the space to keep these vehicles. We are in touch with BMC officials to come up with a solution,” said Upadhyay.
Deputy commissioner of Brihamumbai Municipal Corporation, Vasant Pabhu, did not respond to phone calls made to him.