By Anna Brittas
During our short stint in Pune one of the very interesting things that we noticed were the signages. Under the broad heading of these signs, no-parking signs stood out due to their sheer abundance. What was really engaging was the fact that the signs came in different shapes, sizes and colours and were sometimes even in the form of barriers. It almost seemed like anyone and everyone could put up a ‘no parking’ sign. How do people especially motorists and vehicle owners view these signs and do they follow them while parking?
Various observations on the field revealed mixed patterns. There were areas such as the main roads where these signs were blatantly ignored while in some of the interior roads and those that were more residential there were fewer instances. The legitimacy factor of these signs can be arrived only when there is necessary infrastructure to implement it. The Motor Vehicles Act section 119/177 lists out all offences under the ambit of parking and also establishes the fine amount that contains both the toeing and the compounding fee which together fall in the range of Rs 150-300. So in effect what can be seen is that if the municipalities or the traffic police don’t have the necessary equipments then they cannot really perform their duties and therefore the motorists have no fear of parking in no-parking zones. Considering that parking is a major issue and how vehicles parked in an unruly manner are the prime cause of obstruction in the movement of pedestrians in any street, it’s not surprising that there is such a huge number of such signs and barriers. All of this is linked to Pune’s rapid growth and urbanization in the last few decades and its emergence as a hub of manufacturing and IT services. Comparing the Census of India, 2001 and Census of India 2011, Pune has witnessed a population growth rate of 30.37%. All of these have led to increased congestion on the roads and problems in parking and crunch in spaces for pedestrians to move freely.
It’s also fascinating how residents themselves erect these boards near their gates, and also how they manage to deal with the vehicles if in case they are parked in these self-created no parking zones.
To conclude, it is very clear that various areas in Pune have a parking crisis. According to Pune Municipal Corporation’s Environment Status Report for the year 2016-17, the vehicle population is equal to the city’s population and in fact the ratio of vehicles compared to per person is more than 1 which is quite high. The need of the hour is to have a control on this growing number of vehicles which would require looking into the public transport system in Pune and also to encourage cycling and incentivizing it as Pune is known as the cycle city. An improvement of the services of buses, autorickshaws and other such modes will definitely help curb the problem. On the supply side, parking regulation needs to be in order so as to lessen the problems on the street as it can be noticed that there is no dearth in street signs in Pune but rather it’s a question of who governs them and whether any action is taken or not by the authorities because otherwise the signs are redundant.
The Winter Institute is a full-fledged 3 credit Course in the academic calendar of the Masters in Urban Policy and Governance program of the School of Habitat Studies conducted in the first year. It is conceived as a platform for interdisciplinary collaborative learning through research and action in the field. The blog series showcases the work, reflections and opinions of the students, and not the Centre.
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