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Reduced Bus Fares, Increased Fines For Illegal Parking, BEST For Common Man

Gajanan Khergamker | Mumbai

Mumbai's premier public transportation, the BEST is back in action again. Fares for BEST buses have been slashed from 9 July 2019, registering a win for DraftCraft International's The Public Space Project, The Right To Walk Project and associated initiatives to uphold the right of the common man.

Commuters will now have to pay a minimum of Rs 5 fare to travel in regular BEST buses and a minimum of Rs 6 fare to travel in AC BEST Buses. The move is a decisive win for the common man. Concurrently, the BMC has decided to increase fines for wrongly parked private vehicles. This decision is being flayed and criticised by all and sundry claiming that there is very less parking space in the city and the issue of hawkers has not been tackled while ignoring the fact that parking one's car or two-wheeler in a No-Parking Zone was always an offence which now invites a heftier penalty.

Demanding the BMC to first act against illegal hawkers is akin to blaming the rains, getting wet or getting late for a private vehicle owner to break a red signal. Two wrongs do not make a right. One corrected is en-route to a right change.

This issue isn't about whether there is enough parking space or encroachment occurs. The issue is of ensuring the law is upheld. Illegal parking was, is and must always remain illegal. That it should stop is not debatable. So the move to curb that should not be criticised.

To put up defences like there not being enough parking space hence permit illegal parking is like saying permit criminals must get scot-free because there are no jobs or there is so much poverty. That simply makes no sense.

The issues of less parking space or encroachments have to be tackled independently.

A BEST bus must be accorded a greater right of way than to a private vehicle. After all, its the needs of a larger poorer collective as compared to the demands of a minuscule affluent few. In that context, fines or stringent moves to stop illegal parking are welcome. The trend to cheat must stop before public space is reduced to naught.

If the BMC does something to penalise offenders in order to stop the wrongs, it's considered wrong...and why? Because, we must protect the offender and wait and watch Mumbai get squeezed out of space and risk life and limb while walking? It's the easiest thing to crib, rant and rave about Mumbai, even threaten to 'leave the city for good' all your life without a single move in the direction, but, when it comes to bad-mouthing your own city, isn't it like shooting yourself in the foot?

Kudos to the BMC for attempting to curb the nuisance of illegal parking and boost the right of the public by its recent moves. The fare reduction is a win for the common man. Yet, it doesn't mean our work ends here.

The fights against illegal hawkers, public spaces being compromised, unlawful change of use of land and coastal zones being compromised to raise risk of flooding etc., must go on. DraftCraft International's The Public Space Project works in the same direction and will continue to do so.

That said, today's a day of glory for the common man. A day of victory for all of us at DraftCraft International and The Public Space Project  Team.

Read DraftCraft International's full report here.

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