Halt in the towing system in Bangalore has led to haphazard parking and increase in the number of fines collected. New towing rules are yet to be implemented by the authorities.
The halt in the towing system implemented in February this year has increased cases of disorganised parking. City Crime Records Bureau data show that (CCRB), there has been an 18 percent increase in wrong parking fines from July 2012 to July 2022. Araga Jnanendra, Home Minister of Karnataka had announced in February that there would be a motorist-friendly towing traffic management policy within 15 days of suspending towing from No Parking zones but the city is yet to receive new towing rules.
Ganpath Singh, owner of a stationery store in Indiranagar said, “They (drivers and motorists) park wherever they want as there is no Tiger (towing vehicles were given the name Tiger) anymore to fear from.” He also added that his continuous request to motorists to not park in front of his shop, which is a No Parking zone, has made him a victim of verbal abuse. Mr.Singh was told “The area where you are sitting is your shop and the road is not your property”.
The fine for wrongful parking is Rs.1,000 according to the revised list released by the Bengaluru Traffic Police in July 2019. The average fine collected till July 2022 on a daily basis was Rs. 2,600 as compared to Rs. 2,200 in July 2021.
Dinesha, Head Constable of Halasuru Traffic Police said, “Since we cannot tow the cars anymore, we have to put wheel clamps but even they are limited so we have to click photos on our machines and register the tickets.” The Bangalore Traffic Police (BTP) uses Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) which helps them collect fines on the spot with a card swipe. The machine is connected to an Android app that stores all the data and the traffic challan can be paid through various websites or apps available by entering the vehicle number.
There was a difference of opinion on the No-Towing policy where Arshad, owner of Green Oak Furniture on Infantry Road said, “I have incurred profits due to No-Towing policy as the customers can now park in front of the shop, otherwise they would have to park far away and they do not return to the store.”
Lack of parking facilities in Central Business District (CBD’s) areas are adding to the traffic congestion in the city. Meghana, an IT professional said, “I frequently visit Commercial Street to shop and my two-wheeler was towed once from a No Parking zone without any announcement. It has happened to my friends even in other areas, so I am glad there is no towing now, but parking facilities should be improved.”
On-duty Traffic Police at the Kamraj Road signal said, “When we click pictures of the wrongfully parked vehicles, the people argue a lot.”Addressing the issue of less parking space, he added, “No shopping complexes or buildings are providing parking space and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) is responsible for allotting these spaces, we just do our duty and try to maintain a free flow of traffic.”
Prof. M. N Sreehari, an expert who has supervised over 2,000 projects related to Traffic, Transportation and Safety said, “Roads are meant for traffic but now they are used for parking. A simple solution for BBMP would be to identify four to five spots in each area to construct multi-level parking spaces and impose strict fines on the vehicles parked on roads.”
The expert added, “Why do people park their vehicles on roads in the first place when they know there is no parking? Even they are responsible towards the city they live in. The administration is equally responsible for the lack of parking space. It is a joint venture between stakeholders (public), the administration and the government, no stakeholder can solve this problem alone.”
In Jan 2022, there were a series of incidents of harassment by the traffic police and towing authorities which led to the suspension of the towing policy. There was a public outcry on twitter and other social media platforms when two incidents surfaced online, involving a physically challenged woman and a delivery executive being harassed by the authorities.
On September 17, in a press release to the media, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said that there is no plan as of now to re-introduce the towing system. He said “We have been discussing with experts and other stakeholders to come out with a parking policy which will be citizen-friendly.”
City Police Commissioner C H Pratap Reddy had made a statement that towing was necessary to manage the traffic congestion in the city. He also said that if the government brings back the towing rules, guidelines can be put in place.