Plea seeking proper parking policy, Bombay HC says even citizens should take initiative

The Bombay High Court stated that there must be a proper parking policy in place to allow emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances to pass through, and that citizens must take the initiative.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Monday, September 05, 2022, 09:39 PM IST
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Bombay HC | Photo: Representative Image

The Bombay High Court stated that there must be a proper parking policy in place to allow emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances to pass through, and that citizens must take the initiative.

A division bench of Justices PB Varale and Sharmila Deshmukh said: "Sometimes in city areas, citizens or residents are also required to come forward and help the government authorities. There are rights. Are there no duties? Is a citizen expected to follow their duties? "

The HC was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Chembur’s Tilak Nagar Sargam CHSL alleging inaction by the authorities concerned on their complaints. Ganesh Udyan Road, where the society is located, is barely 20 feet long, including footpaths on either side.

On December 27, 2018, a fire broke out in a flat on the 11th floor of the building due to a short circuit. Although the fire brigade reached the spot immediately, it struggled for 2-3 hours to reach inside the society and bring the fire under control. Five senior citizens died and a fireman was injured in the incident.

Initially, the society had filed a writ petition in the HC. However, looking at the larger issue, the HC asked it to convert it to a PIL.

The PIl said that the delay in the fire brigade reaching the society was due to haphazard parking of vehicles from the start to the end of the Ganesh Udyan Road. Even the fire-brigade’s report said that due to cars parked on both sides near the building, it obstructed its access.

The plea has sought a framework of comprehensive policy for roads that are less than 20 feet.

Justice Varale asked the Maharashtra government why it was "shying from taking action" against illegally parked vehicles.

Government pleader Poornima Kantharia informed the court that the traffic department has not declared the road as a No Parking Zone by way of a notification issued on July 4 this year. In October 2021, the traffic department experimented with odd-even parking on the road, which did not help in easing the traffic situation.

"Beyond this, what can be done?’’ asked Kantharia.

Savina Crasto, advocate for the petitioner society , argued that the state is showing "helplessness" to deal with "lawlessness".

The judges asked what the state government could do if some residents did not cooperate. It suggested that the state could initiate penal action against those not complying with rules. To this, Kantharia said that any breach of the no parking zone order would be dealt with seriously by the traffic department.

Recording her statement in the order, HC said: "Needless to say, we accept this as an undertaking to this court."

The court allowed the Tilak Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, representing 209 buildings in the area, to intervene in the PIL. The association has urged no parking for the entire Tilak Nagar layout and for adjoining areas for the security and convenience of citizens.

After asking the petitioners and the association to submit their suggestions, the HC has kept the PIL for further hearing in October.

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