Mayor Subrata Mukherjee has decided to allow night parking of private buses and minibuses on city roads — for a fee. Mukherjee hopes to rake in Rs 5 crore into the civic coffers every year through this scheme.
The civic authorities conveyed the decision to bus-operators in the first round of meetings with Bengal Bus Syndicate representatives last week.
The Syndicate, and other private bus operators, have long been urging the civic authorities and the state transport department to allow night parking on city streets. Before fixing the parking rate, municipal commissioner Debasis Som has asked the Syndicate to hand over a list of roads being used as bus terminals and the number of buses and minibuses plying on each route.
The proposed rate fixed by the civic authorities is Rs 30 per bus or minibus per night. “That is far less than the monthly rent for hiring a garage in the city or its suburbs,” pointed out assistant director, conservancy, Swapan Mahapatra.
Welcoming the move, Syndicate president Swarnakamal Saha said: “We are ready to pay a regular night-parking fee, as it will put an end to the constant harassment we face from civic conservancy officials. But the rate should be fixed only after discussing the matter across the table.”
According to Saha, there are over 100 routes in the city, on which 10,000 buses and minibuses ply. Besides, there are scores of school buses, luxury buses and ordinary buses coming into the city from the adjoining districts of Howrah, Hooghly, North and South 24-Parganas.
The CPM-led civic board had rejected the Syndicate plea on the grounds that it would “turn large stretches of the city into garages”. CPM chief whip Amal Mitra said on Friday that if the present board allowed night parking on city streets, those living near the ‘stands’ would never be able to sleep in peace. “The mayor is actually selling the citizens’ sleeping hours to the bus operators,” he claimed.
“Once the Corporation accepts fees from the bus operators, encroachment of road space becomes legal. This will turn the streets into bus terminals, garages and even auto workshops,” warned former members, mayor-in-council, Kanti Ganguly and Sudhanshu Sil of the CPM.
Sil added: “Though it is mandatory for a bus-owner to show a garage at the time of obtaining a licence from the motor vehicles department, hardly two per cent of the owners have actual garages for their vehicles.”