iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Neelam Pandey, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, August 19, 2013
Model solutions to solve Delhi’s parking problems have miserably failed to work, all because of lack of will and planning on the part of the authorities. Multi-level automated parking lots and provision of stilt parkings in residential areas could have tackled the acute lack of parking space in the Capital to a great extent.

But, even though the problem grows bigger by the day, leading to choking of streets and frequent brawls, the agencies are yet to measure up to the task.

Sample this: The unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi had proposed to construct 14 automated multi-level parking lots nearly nine years ago. Not even one of them has been made operational till now.

The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) was able to operationalise two multi-level parking lots. But, they are struggling with several problems. One of them at Baba Kharak Singh Marg remains severely under-utilised since it is a little away from the main business district of Connaught Place.

Despite being a state-of-the-art facility, people prefer to use surface parkings in Connaught Place. A common complaint is that after parking the vehicle at the facility, one has to walk a long way to CP.

The other one at Sarojini Nagar has earned a bad name for multi-level parkings due to poor operations. Built at a cost of Rs. 80 crore, the multi-level parking lot has become a nightmare for the users.

Against a capacity of 1,408 cars, the automated parking lot at Baba Kharak Singh Marg gets a maximum traffic of 500 vehicles. HT photo/Jasjeet Plaha

Vehicles get stuck inside the lot as technical snags are common. Once, retrieval of vehicles took about two hours.

Read more: Most advanced parking lot in Delhi has a few takers

“Till the time surface parking lots are located in proximity to multi-level parking lots, nobody is going to use the latter. Strict enforcement is required and the authorities must incentivise the use of multi-level lots. Those who continue to park on the streets should be fined,” said Bhure Lal, chairman EPCA, a Supreme Court-appointed body to manage parking policies in the NCR.

“A number of multi-level parking lots were planned but in some cases no response was received. In other cases, contractors didn’t carry out work properly and so the contracts were cancelled. These add to the delays. We are trying to fast-track the construction of multi-level parking lots,” said a senior municipal official.

Motorists are often wary of using multi-level lots, awareness campaigns need to be carried out to make them understand that it is a better alternative to surface parking.

The parking lot is under-utilised since it is a little distance away from Connaught Place. HT photo

“Time is precious and I would rather park my car at a surface parking lot rather than waste 15 minutes to park it at a multi-level parking lot,” said Sarabjit Singh, a resident of Greater Kailash I.

The concept of stilt parkings at residential buildings has also failed to work because of lax enforcement. The unified MCD had proposed that every new construction being undertaken at a plot measuring 100 sqm or more must have the provision of a parking on the ground floor.

Read more: Stilt parkings in Delhi fail to free colony roads of congestion

However, the civic authorities did little to enforce the rule, resulting in people using the stilt floor as a store room.

In the absence of parking space, failing modern solutions, illegal on-street parking lots are mushrooming in the city.

These unregulated parking services are marred by mismanagement and the clients are often fleeced. Most of these work in connivance with civic officials and the police.

Despite stilt parkings on the ground floors, people park their cars on the colony roads. HT photo/Sonu Mehta

Yet, they remain a hit with car owners as most of them are unwilling to park far away from their destinations. These illegal parkings add to the traffic chaos and congestion.

The bureaucratic red tape is another issue. Civic officials confirm that getting clearances for implementing construction of multi-level parking lots is not an easy task.

Moreover, those which are cleared by all agencies concerned have to wait for the contractors with the required technical know how to execute such projects.

A case in point is a project in Pitampura, which caved-in during construction due to poor execution. The project had to be re-tendered.

Also, the parking prices at surface parking lots need to rationalised so that people would choose multi-level lots over them.