Having found the contractor's staff managing the parking lots well, the SAS Nagar Municipal Corporation on Tuesday introduced paid parking in a phased manner.
To begin with, paid parking has been introduced at the Phase-7 and -3B2 markets, where contractor has already put up the rate list and was seen charging visitors on Tuesday.
While the parking fee for two-wheelers has been fixed at rs 2, the car owners will have to pay Rs 5. Paid parking will eventually be extended to a total of 19 main parking lots across the city.
The project had evoked much controversy when it was first introduced on March 11 last year, and has once again led to unrest among the traders.
Earlier on March 25 this year, the MC had directed private firm JPS Construction not to charge any parking fee for a month and maintain the lots on trial basis.
"We found that the contractor was managing the parking lots very well. So we have decided to introduce the paid parking in a phased manner. As of now it has been introduced in Phase-3B2 and -7 markets, and will gradually be extended to other markets. Visitors should not mind paying such a minimal amount if they are getting well maintained and proper parking space," said MC commissioner Uma Shankar Gupta.
JPS Constructions is the same firm that was enrolled by the corporation last year after floating tenders and e-bidding. Though Gupta had maintained that he had consulted the market welfare associations, the latter had rubbished the claims and held massive protests against the decision.
As a result, the project was shelved. The MC had earned Rs 82 lakh from inviting tenders, and JPS Construction that had bid rs 23 lakh got the contract. The Phase-7 lots went for the highest amount at Rs 26 lakh against the reserved price of Rs 7 lakh, while the Phase 3B2 lots went for Rs 23 lakh against the reserved price of Rs 5 lakh.
However, the move has once again elicited criticism from various quarters. Various traders said the decision would affect their business as customers would avoid the market due to paid parking. Similarly, councillors are also opposing the move.
Kuljit Singh, who recently got elected as a councillor, said, "We opposed the project last year, and will do the same even now. It is disrespect to the house and the commissioner seems to just show-off his power. We shall oppose it and see what the public wants and then decide it in their favour accordingly."