Encroachment of our valuable public space is unjustified at any cost. Often, most of us view encroachers with scorn and contempt. Vendors, pedlars, hawkers who bother us on the sidewalks selling their wares: be it necessities, or eatables, make the already narrow sidewalks narrower. We desire that the public spaces, be it the roadways, the sidewalks, the bus shelters, or spaces underneath the flyovers be free of encroachers.
Our Constitution grants equality. But are certain sections of people more ‘equal’? We talk about encroachments by the homeless, the unlicensed vendors, but what about the encroachment by the middle class, upper middle class and the upper class who park their first, second, third, fourth cars on the roadways, streets, and the bylanes. Some of them even feel it is their privilege to park on the road in front of their houses. They even put up notices that parking is reserved. Sometimes the burly watchman warns you that tyres would be deflated lest someone else other than the house owner park their vehicle on their roads!
But whose space is that? Claiming the sidewalks as their own, which is obviously government property? Who has given them the right to display notices that claim “reserved parking” on the gates? For instance, a notice which says that parking is reserved for B1 resident only. Is there any special tax to obtain such privilege or does the corporation lend the sidewalks? Is it not reasonable to think before one buys their nth vehicle? If one does not have space to park vehicles within the enclosure of their house or complex, one should forego buying them.
It has become increasingly difficult to drive through the narrow roads sandwiched by cars parked on the supposedly posh streets to the bylanes dotted with the so-called common man vehicles. Today’s ‘norm’ is to buy cars for every individual of the family, for the office going husband and wife, stay-at-home mom and for the college going children. It does not matter whether the vehicles are used everyday or not, buying is the mantra! If one has to step out, one has to flaunt it in style to show that one has finally arrived! It is sheer absurdity to watch so many cars lined up on both sides of narrow roads, some of them coated with dust and in an unused state thereby making the transit unpleasant. Sometimes, manoeuvring to drive uneventfully is a momentous task. It is similar to entering a maze; one can almost empathise with the warrior Abhimanyu of the Mahabharata!
The only way to make people pay heed is to impose taxes, high penalties on vehicles parked on roads. At least, that is one way of getting some revenue.
(The writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org)