The Bombay High Court on Thursday expressed concern over the worsening parking problem in Mumbai and directed the civic body to consider regulating the number of vehicles on the road and charging for parking space on roads.
"Why don't you think of regulating the vehicles? Why do you want the court to pass orders? As the custodian of the city you should look into this," said judge NH Patil.
The judge raised the issue during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) on the alleged evasion of octroi payment amounting to crores of rupees, in connivance with officials, in the registration of vehicles. Judge Patil together with judge VL Achiliya constituted the division bench that took up the PIL.
The petitioner stated that many vehicle owners residing in Mumbai submitted forged documents and registered vehicles in neighbouring cities.
Aruna Kamath-Pai, additional public prosecutor, told the court that there were more than 100 dealers in the city and over 40,000 new vehicles were registered last year alone.
To a question by the judges as to what steps were taken by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) when registering vehicles, the public prosecutor said the RTO does not crosscheck documents submitted for registration.
Judge Achiliya remarked that if the vehicles were registered in other cities in Maharashtra there would be no loss to the state exchequer, although the city municipal corporation would not get the money.
The public prosecutor referred to a March 2008 order of the court on another PIL which stated that the RTO and other authorities were taking necessary steps and there was no need for interference by the court.
However, judge Patil said: "Nothing has changed in the past six years. Parking space is still an issue. In fact, the situation has worsened. Where will people park (their vehicles)? The situation will be the same even after 50 years."
The judges suggested that when registering a vehicle the authorities should insist on a letter from the housing society where the vehicle owner lives declaring that there is parking space in the building compound for the vehicle.
Prakash Naik, counsel for the municipal corporation, said it had received a list of violators and notices were issued to them. "A majority of them have agreed to pay the octroi. Necessary action will be initiated against those who don't pay."
On a question by the court, Naik said no charges were levied for parking on public roads. The judges suggested that the corporation consider imposing a charge for parking on roads and not just at pay-and-park enclosures.
The hearing will continue after two weeks.