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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Time for one car, one family rule in Delhi

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 21, 2013
First Published: 00:12 IST(21/8/2013) | Last Updated: 00:43 IST(21/8/2013)

In London, parking comes at a premium — especially on streets. Many roads in the city operate a ‘pay and display’ scheme where you need to purchase a ticket and display it on the dashboard or windscreen of the vehicle.

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Apart from this, parking restrictions are in force throughout London — 8.30am and 6.30pm from Monday to Saturday. If your vehicle is parked in contravention of parking or traffic restrictions, you will be issued with a penalty charge notice (PCN). Parking fines are generally between £80 and £130 ( Rs. 7,940- Rs. 12,907).

In comparison, the whole city of Delhi is virtually a free-for-all parking zone — except some busy roads where you can spot a few no-parking boards. But it is not that there is lack of ideas to regulate parking in the national Capital.

Civic agencies have framed a number of policies for residential colonies. But, when it comes to implementation, most of the proposals are put in the freezer for lack of political will. Among the foremost of the ideas is restricting the number of cars that a person can own.

“A person shouldn’t be allowed to buy more than one car. Most of the multiple car owners keep them as more of a status symbol than a necessity. Therefore, pooling cars is considered derogatory. We need to frame and implement effective policies to curb the number of private vehicles,” said Jalaj Srivastava, chairperson of the New Delhi Municipal Council.

Local residents, who have lost valuable space around their houses to move freely, now realise that it is time for some tough measures.

“People shouldn’t be allowed to buy cars if they don’t have space to park them. Building bylaws, vehicle density and purchasing trends need to be synchronised,” said Rajiv Kakaria, member of Greater Kailash I RWA.

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“It’s time to impose one car, one family rule in Delhi,” said BS Vohra of the east Delhi RWAs Joint Front.

Internationally, strict on-street parking norms and state-of-art parkings that are integrated with public transport have curbed the number of people buying or using private vehicles.

A similar attempt was made in the northeastern state of Mizoram. To de-congest the capital city of Aizawl, the authorities had made availability of parking space mandatory for the registration of new cars.

The owner of the vehicle was required to submit a proof of his parking area. But the new plan did not prove to be as successful as hoped. The state transport department had issued a notification on August 16, after the state government assented to the Mizoram Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Rules of 2010.

According to the amended rules, a vehicle will be registered only after it’s confirmed that the applicant has parking space.

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Experts also point out that underground parking lots can be constructed at residential colonies to de-congest the streets. Municipal officials say that unless a clear parking policy is implemented in the city, roads will continue to choke.

A Supreme Court-appointed monitoring committee is planning to move court if the political wings of the three corporations fail to implement measures to free city streets of rampant on-street parking.

Fine those who park cars on colony roads, boost public transport: Bhure Lal

Chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), Bhure Lal  believes that to discourage the use of private vehicles, it is crucial to strengthen the city’s public transport. He also advocates imposing penalties for on-street parking in residential areas. The senior administrator feels that it is high time that the government should frame right policies to manage and regulate parking. EPCA was formed to manage parking policies in the NCR.

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He spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues.

Parking policies focus on commercial areas. But residential areas are also facing parking space crunch.

It is difficult to enter a colony these days. People have not even spared footpaths. Cars have occupied all free spaces inside colonies, leaving no space for pedestrians.

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We had formulated a policy and asked the civic agencies to make stilt parking compulsory. While it has been implemented for new constructions, enforcement is weak. Those who don’t have space to park vehicles inside their homes were asked to pay a monthly fee to the municipality, which is not being followed. We had suggested that setbacks (free space within compounds) should be made mandatory for every house but most of them have been converted into rooms. 

Parking space has remained the same but the number of cars has gone up. How can we discourage people from buying cars?
People need to understand the cost of the land. While we need merely 20 square yards to live, a car requires approximately 40 square yards. Hence, it takes much more space than a person. Colonies need to reclaim this space.

Government should discourage the use of private vehicles by implementing stricter norms. People should not be allowed to purchase a car if they don’t have parking space for it. Many cities, including Tokyo and Singapore have such rules.

With cars parked on roads and in parks, people in residential areas have hardly any space to move around. There is no policy in place to levy fine on those who park their vehicles on streets in residential areas.

Pavements are being used as parking lots, which violates the Motor Vehicles Act. It is also against the right to walk. Quarrels take place in residential colonies every day over parking. Parks meant for children have been taken over.

Police should be entrusted with the job of imposing fines on such people. Rather than charging a meagre Rs. 100 for a violation, the fine should be increased to Rs. 500 for the first offence, Rs. 1,000 for the second and Rs. 1500 for the third. For any further offence, the licence of the person concerned should be cancelled. 

What options residents can the government explore to tackle the parking mess in colonies?
Rather than using private vehicles to reach workplaces, car-pooling should be encouraged. This will prove to be cheaper and reduce traffic on the roads. People can use their vehicles to reach Metro stations and then take the trains to commute to their workplace. This will help reduce congestion on the roads.

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The EPCA has suggested several measures to the civic agencies to check the parking mess. However, most of the suggestions have not been implemented.

The executive wings of the civic agencies have tried to implement our suggestions and even policies have been formed. But there is lack of political will and these suggestions have remained suggestions.

Our markets have become highly congested.

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These markets should be made pedestrian-friendly and declared a vehicle-free zone. Shop owners think it is their right to park their vehicles in front of their shop, but they should not be permitted. If they do, they should be fined.

What is the single most important measure to clear the parking mess?
Unless public transport is not strengthened, people will continue to buy private vehicles and the problem of parking space will continue.

(Bhure Lal is chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority.)


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