Roadside parking on public streets
IFP Editorial: The time has come for the government and municipal authorities to enact a law to prohibit vehicle parking on all roads and to make it mandatory for every vehicle owner to have their own parking spaces for their vehicles.
This Monday, the Deputy Commissioner of Imphal West issued an order prohibiting parking of vehicles on both sides of RIMS Road and Uripok Canteen Road citing easing traffic flow on these important stretches. Although we fail to understand why should the district administration allow parking of vehicles at all. Before we come to that, let us examine the issue of roadside parking. In most cities across the country and around the world, it has been made mandatory for every commercial establishment to create their own parking spaces. Roadside parking has been banned almost everywhere, in an effort to decongest the roads and facilitate free flow of traffic. We are of the opinion that roadside parking should be banned not only in the commercial zones, but in residential areas also. In many parts of Imphal, one will find vehicles parked in the main roads and leikai roads. Perhaps, the time has come for the government and municipal authorities to enact a law to prohibit vehicle parking on all roads and to make it mandatory for every vehicle owner to have their own parking spaces for their vehicles in their Ingkhols or rent commercial garages.
The problem with RIMS Road and Uripok Canteen Road is that these roads lead to various hospitals including RIMS, Shija Hospitals and a host of private hospitals and nursing homes. Besides, these roads host a number of ancillary services related to hospitals like diagnostic labs, pharmacies, dental and eye clinics etc. It is also necessary for authorities to ensure free flow of traffic for vehicles like emergency services like ambulances and other private vehicles carrying patients on the way to the hospitals. The most recent order speaks of allowing parking on only one side of the road. We have to understand that there are two parking modes. One is short duration parking for a few minutes to avail some services and buy something. The other is idle parking, which should be completely banned. Shop owners, salespersons and people living on both side of the road are the main culprits for idle parking. It is happening in almost all commercial areas in Imphal city. Instead of availing their own parking spaces, these commercial establishments encroach upon the footpath also for display of their wares and the adjacent public road for parking of their staff vehicles and of the shoppers. So, pedestrians are forced to walk in the middle part of the road as the portion next to the footpath was blocked by parked vehicles.
Recently, the Karnataka High Court ruled that illegal parking on footways and public streets will amount to violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 21. The Karnataka High Court has held that it is the duty of the authorities to ensure that the footways and public streets are kept free of obstructions including illegal parking thereon. It is also their responsibility to ensure that violations of the aforesaid provisions of law are not taken casually and criminal law is promptly set in motion. The division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj, relying on the order passed by the court on 31st July 2019 in W.P.No.42927/2015, said "This Court has held that a right to have streets including footways in a good and reasonable condition will have to be held as an essential part of the fundamental rights conferred on the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. If the footways or public streets are encroached upon in any manner including by parking of vehicles, it will amount to violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India as held by this Court."
The court has also directed the state government and the traffic Police Department to make effective implementation of the provisions contained in Sections 117, 122, 127, 177A and 201 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, on a complaint made by a citizen or otherwise. If any violation of the said provisions is made, apart from taking action of removal of illegally stopped, parked or abandoned vehicles on footways, criminal law must be set in motion immediately. It is indeed a landmark judgment and the same procedure could be applied here in the state.