Bombay High Court asks govt to ‘seriously’ consider introducing water transport

Mumbai: Observing that lakhs of Mumbaikars are ‘risking’ their lives on a daily basis by commuting through the city’s existing public transport system, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the government to ‘seriously’ consider introducing water transport system. The HC has asked the government to clarify its stand on this issue and consider starting a pilot project by connecting Dadar and Nariman Point through water transport.

A division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Girish Kulkarni said, “Lakhs of citizens risk their lives daily by commuting through public transport system. The existing transport system needs to be strengthened, given the number of accidents that take place regularly.” “We fail to understand why the government is not considering our suggestion to exploit sea. Why cannot you introduce water transport in the city, at least on a pilot project,” Justice Patil asked.

The bench clarified that it did not expect the government to fund this ‘proposal’ from its very own budget. “It is not as if we are asking you to pay for the project from your pocket. We instead want you to allow private participants to enter and work on the water transport. This will not only reduce the congestion on the roads but would also prove to be a boon for lakhs of citizens, who risk their lives in your existing transport system,” Justice Patil remarked.

The bench was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Janhit Manch, highlighting the vehicular congestion in Mumbai. The petition also draws attention on the rampant illegal parking in the city. During the course of the hearing, the bench also asked the government to consider directing the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) to submit a data of areas in the city, which witness heavy vehicular traffic.

“This data will help you as then you would be in a position to identify which area has more congestion. Once you get such a data, you can then consider introducing no-parking zones in such areas, thereby, prohibiting parking and allowing only pick-up and drop services. Apart from such areas, you can consider introducing such a policy near courts, hospitals, schools and colleges,” Justice Patil added. The bench also asked the BMC to consider increasing the fine amount, it charges on the offenders of illegal parking.

“Consider increasing the fine amount, that would also help in reducing rampant illegal parking. The existing amounts are too low and thus the citizens are under an impression that instead of parking in a pay-park area, it would prefer paying a meagre amount in terms of fine,” the bench said.

Posting the matter for further hearing later this week, the bench directed the government and the BMC to go through the suggestions submitted by amicus curiae Sharan Jagtiani to overcome these issues.  The bench has asked the authorities to spell out as to which suggestions are ‘feasible’ and can be concentrated at present.

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