A broken wall, patches of grass, one tree and 10 parked cars — that more or less sums up the colony park at Block C-1 of Vasant Kunj in south Delhi.
With every house having at least a car or two, finding parking space is a daily struggle for the residents of this area.
The shortage of parking space is so acute that the residents had to start using the neighbourhood parks as parking lots since last year.
“Every house here has two to three cars but there is not enough space to park them. The number of cars is multiplying but there is no space at all,” said Savita Thamman, executive member of Block C-1 RWA.
“The fight over parking space was getting so frequent and bitter that the residents had no other option but to break the wall of the park and start using a portion of it as a parking lot,” she said.
When the area was developed more than two decades ago, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had made the provision of garages for each flat.
The buildings have four storeys each and the garages are only big enough to park two-wheelers.
“The colony park was never maintained by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) anyway. It was just a piece of barren land before it was turned into a parking lot,” she said.
“The park was the only space left in the area and we had to use it,” said Sandeep Kumar, a resident of the block.
“Parking our cars and taking them out in the morning was like a jigsaw puzzle as people coming late in the night parked their cars just anywhere. Thanks to the park, now at least some space is available to us,” he said.
To compensate for the loss of half of the park, the residents have beautified the other half.
“The residents are maintaining it by themselves and there is no help from the MCD,” said Thamman.
Residents said either the Delhi Development Authority, which constructed the colony, or the MCD, under whose jurisdiction it falls now, should provide them an underground multi-level parking to solve the problem.
With the number of cars increasing and no extra space available to park them, the burden is falling on neighbourhood parks and other opens spaces.
At Vasant Vihar, the park at Block D-1 becomes a makeshift parking lot at night.
“A part of the park boundary wall has been broken and cars from nearby taxi stands are parked there,” said Sashi Nag, a member of the residents' welfare association. “We have complained to the MCD many times but no action has been taken to date,” she said.
At Safdarjung Enclave, the Chowdhary Harsukh, one of the biggest parks in the area, turns into a car market every Sunday.
“Every Sunday, the park is taken over by this car bazaar. Though on weekdays there is no problem at the park, on Sunday it cannot be used by residents,” said Pankaj Agarwal of Safdarjung Enclave residents' welfare association.
It is not only residents of areas like Vasant Kunj who have been forced to convert their parks into parking lots.
The MCD, facing a space crunch, is also eyeing parks to make multi-level parking lots.
The MCD is planning to create 24 underground multi-level parking lots across the city, 14 of which will be created under parks or green spaces. The areas include Lajpat Nagar.
Defence Colony, Greater Kailash-I, Shastri Park in Karol Bagh, Rani Bagh, South Extension Part I and II, Qutub Road, New Friends Colony, Chirag Delhi and Kalkaji.
The plan is facing stiff opposition from residents of most areas.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), which is monitoring implementation of the parking policy in Delhi on the Supreme Court’s direction, too has asked how the civic agency will restore the parks to their original forms after making the parking lots.
The MCD has been asked to seek the permission of the residents of the area before turning parks into parking lots.