Some days ago, three restaurant owners in the tony Indiranagar area were jolted out of their sense of entitlement when they received a notice from the traffic police to clear the footpath they had encroached upon to facilitate parking for customers’ vehicles.
Such practice, commonplace across the city, endangers pedestrians who are forced to step down on the road as the footpaths are chock-a-block with parked vehicles.
Recently, the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) had fined popular hotel near M.G. Road as the pavement near it was taken over as parking space by its customers. The hotel went to the High Court challenging the fine and the court stayed the BBMP order, subject to the hotel depositing half the fine amount.
Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) M.A. Saleem told The Hindu the police intended to act by issuing notices to commercial establishments across the city to clear the footpaths abutting their premises. The police will also ask the BBMP to cancel the trade licences for repeated offences.
A second-hand furniture business run by a resident of Berlie Street Cross from his house extends to pavements on both sides of street, where the furniture is kept on display. The secretary of one of the Residents’ Welfare Associations in Shantinagar told The Hindu complaints in this regard to the BBMP were fruitless. “It is a very busy street with fast-moving traffic. A pedestrian could easily get knocked down,” said the secretary who did not wish to be named, adding that the businessman had some political clout.
BBMP Additional Commissioner (South) K.V. Trilok Chandra said encroachments could be either in the form of overhanging structures or materials from shops spilling into the pavements or it could be vehicles parked.
Though it is the responsibility of the BBMP to clear encroachments, the traffic police have also pitched in to help clear them. This is especially because the traffic department comes under the radar every time there is an accident due to such encroachments, a traffic police official said.
The drive to remove encroachments is also part of the effort to bring down accidents involving pedestrians. “At least five pedestrians are killed in road accidents a month on an average,” said a traffic police officer. “This is because the city footpaths are not friendly. In addition to this, over half the footpaths have been encroached upon by shops and commercial outlets.”
Other stumbling blocks are Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) transformers that are often fenced, forcing pedestrians to walk on roads, said a senior police officer.