Kolkatans turn prisoners in own homes as cars block their gates

Kolkata : 16 Jan, 2019 (Times of India)

Salt Lake Assault Turns Lens On Illegal Parking

Kolkata:The row over parking of a car in front of the gate of a house in Salt Lake on Monday has turned the focus on the plight of several Kolkatans, whose house entrances are regularly blocked by vehicles illegally left there.

A brother-and-sister duo living at BK Block in Salt Lake was reportedly beaten up on Monday when they objected to a car being parked right in front of the entrance to their home. They were to drive out for work but could not. Pratip Ghosh, in his early 20s, said, “My sister and I had merely asked the motorist to park the car a little ahead as it blocked our gate. Thereafter, eight to 10 men barged into our home and attacked us.” Two persons were later arrested.

The vehicle was a pool car used to ferry children to and from school. A primary school is located in the neighbourhood. Ghosh is apparently not the only one faced with such a problem. Nearly everyone who has a home close to a school is faced with the same trouble twice on a school day. Scores of cars—pooled and private—are left in lanes and by-lanes around the school, disregarding the inconvenience of residents. “This is not a new phenomenon. It happens day in and day out during school hours. We requested them to park in such a way that we can also drive in and out but they assaulted us,” Ghosh said.

The problem is so acute in Ballygunge that South Point principal Rupa Sanyal Bhattacharya issued an advisory to guardians on January 11, urging them to park their vehicles only in the designated KMC parking lots at Ballygunje Place. “Illegal parking not only exposes you to prosecution and penalties, but also reflects badly on the school,” she wrote.

Residents in that locality were so fed up with the problem that they took to the streets a couple of weeks ago. Somnath Ghosh, who lives there, said they had been facing the problem for over a decade and they had even pleaded that proper parking zones be created for vehicles dropping off and picking up kids from the school but to no avail. “The section of Swinhoe Street in front of my house is a narrow blind lane. Vehicles are parked here and we can’t move out,” he said.

Saswati Deb, another local, said it was impossible to leave the house before or after school two times over, as the institution held two sessions a day. “You can’t call a cab or drive out. One has to walk right up to the main road to board a car. Living here has become a punishment,” she said. Septuagenarian Sunil Deb’s constant worry is what happens if he falls ill during those hours. “Even an ambulance can’t enter,” he said.

Further south, Keyatala Road resident Sudipa Guin is exasperated. Though a “No-Parking” sign is prominently written outside her home, it hasn’t stopped cars and bikes from being left right at her gate. “We become prisoners in our own homes. It is not just us, the entire neighbourhood faces the problem but no one listens,” she said.

The narrative is repeated closeby at Tara Road, another narrow lane. Resident Pratik Das said people parked their cars, blocking their gate and even the lane.

Times View

There will not be any easy solution to this problem, especially in areas where are schools or malls without adequate parking bays. We may need policy changes (like zone- and time-specific parking laws and levies) to make using cars a little more expensive. But motorists, too, need to be more responsible.