Prepare for charge of the no-parking brigade


Volunteers that include senior citizens are patrolling a narrow lane near Manipal Hospital to stop people from parking all over and blocking their way

Alongside Manipal Hospital on Old Airport Road is a narrow lane by the name of Rustambagh Road. Around 700 families — 2,500 people — live in this area. From 8 am to 8 pm, this 800-metre lane is completely blocked by vehicles mostly of people coming to the hospital parked everywhere in a haphazard manner. But these days there is a change. People who park there regularly move away when they see the two volunteers that have been posted there to keep a watch. From 82-year-old Santosh Kumar Gupta, a Mahavir Chakra recipient, to 18-year-olds — all are part of a team that keeps the vehicles at bay.

It was the idea of a welfare association on Old Airport Road that started the drive to clear vehicles kept on the side with a no-parking sign. The volunteers who are out and about from 8 am to 8 pm, asking people to move the vehicles.

The problem is pronounced as there is only one entry and exit for the residents of this lane. And if that is blocked by the cabs, autos and private vehicles parked on the roadside, despite the no-parking sign, they are trapped in their own area.

The Rustambagh Association for Welfare (RAW) decided to take up the initiative as no help seemed to be coming from authorities. Around 40 volunteers aged between 18 and 82 years have signed up for the drive and have been monitoring the lane since Monday.

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Poornima Shetty, president of RAW, said that this has been a problem for years and they have complained to the police, MLA, the corporate officials and the Nodal Officer, but to no avail. “The issue aggravated after the hospital decided to move its main entrance to a side lane and all the cabs and autos would stand and wait near the gates creating traffic jams in the lane. Educating the Educated has been the toughest task for us volunteers, most auto and cab drivers oblige, barring a few, but it’s the affluent, educated who don’t seem to care,” she told Bangalore Mirror.

She said that they have planned the drive with a well-scheduled roster of up to 24 volunteers every day, from 8 am to 8 pm, who dedicate an hour each day. Every slot has a minimum of two volunteers at a time. “It’s been four days and we are doing good so far and have been able to successfully clear all the vehicles,” she said.

Santosh Kumar Gupta, who was a rear admiral told Mirror that despite the ‘No Parking’ boards, a lot of people park on the side. “We spoke to the traffic police who installed barricades and tapes to prevent motorists from parking. It’s a 800-metre stretch and so two of us stand and monitor the place for an hour. This seems to be very effective so far and now when the autos who used to regularly stand here, look at us, they move their vehicle,” he said.

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Anjali Bhate, 55, another volunteer said that towing vehicles used to come and the drivers would move the vehicles just for that time but would be back as soon as the traffic police left. “We approach them in a very polite tone and tell them that this is a no-parking zone and ask them to move their vehicle and not to park here. As we join our hands and request them to move their vehicles, people agree and don’t argue with us. There are very few instances where people don’t listen to us and continue to park their vehicles on the same lane when we tell them not to. In those cases, we take photos of the vehicle and upload them on Bengaluru traffic police public eye application and upload the photographs if they don’t move. In the past four days, we have uploaded 30 such cases on the application,” she said.

Shankar, 82, a retired employee with Mico and a footballer, said that water tankers have added more to the problem on a daily basis as many as 20 tankers take that lane and majority of them go to the hospital. He said, “It’s a small lane and these water tankers are driven rashly, which adds to the traffic issues here. The hospital parking fee is high so a lot of people decide to park on the roadside and don’t go inside the hospital which is affecting all of us.”

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Rajalakshmi, 61, another volunteer, said she wants to help in whichever way she can as it is their neighbourhood’s problem.

“Standing one hour on the road and advising people to follow the rules and not park haphazardly is not so difficult. All the residents get stuck in traffic on this stretch and it becomes impossible for us to get past it as it’s the only entry and exit. We’ll continue this for a few months and if people don’t start falling in line by then, we will extend it further and continue to tell them to move the vehicles.”



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Sagar Biswas

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