Monday, January 31, 2005

Mixed response to Mayor's decision on pay-and-park

Mixed response to Mayor's decision on pay-and-park

The Hindu

BANGALORE, JAN. 30. The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike's (BMP) decision to scrap the pay-and-park scheme may be a relief to several Bangaloreans. But many, including members of the ruling Congress in the BMP Council, are doubtful about the feasibility of the decision.

"Will it be really implemented or is it an April 1 gift?" is their doubt. While many people say there will be chaos on Bangalore roads after free parking is made available from April 1, some have welcomed the move and feel it means a saving of at least Rs. 20 every day.

While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the main Opposition party in the BMP Council, and several other organisations have congratulated the Mayor, R. Narayanaswamy, on his decision despite criticism from his party colleagues, several Congress leaders wondered about regulation of free parking zones, security of vehicles, loss of revenue and abrupt termination of the existing contracts.

Sources in the BMP told The Hindu on Sunday that the Mayor did not discuss the matter with the Congress members in the pre-council meeting on Friday.

"We have not been consulted on the matter. We should have included this decision in the BMP budget for this year. As the BJP claims it has taken up the issue in a big way, this decision will only give credit to that party," a senior Congress member said.

At the BMP Council meeting on Saturday many Congress members were not sure of the resolution (to scrap the scheme) being adopted.

The sources said the BMP has not evolved an alternative system to maintain and regulate vehicle parking on the city roads. "We also need to repay the earnest money deposit made by the contractors. This and many other issues need to be worked out before implementing the Mayor's decision. There should not be any problem for the smooth movement of traffic or the security of vehicles parked," they added.

The Janata Dal (United) leader in the BMP Council, Padmanabha Reddy, who is against free parking, said if private companies are entrusted with the task of regulating free parking zones, they might put up hoardings right on the footpath, causing inconvenience to the people.

The Austin Town corporator, M.K. Kuppuraj, said the scheme is being discontinued as the BMP plans to impose new cess. "The solid waste management and infrastructure cess may come through this year. So, may be, Saturday's decision is only to enable citizens to pay the new cess," he added.