Delhi is fast running out of organised parking space. To make up for the shortage, stretches of roads and even pavements have been officially converted into paid parking lots in the city, at times despite the traffic police's objection. This information has been revealed through a Right to Information application filed with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), which manages most of the parking lots in the city.
There were about 100 parking lots till 2005. That number has risen to about 300 in the last one-and-a-half years, but at a tremendous social cost.
The footpath along the service road in front of Haldirams in Lajpat Nagar-III, for instance, has been converted into a paid parking lot. Interestingly, the traffic police had warned that it would be a traffic hazard and had asked the MCD to cancel the contract. Due to the heavy rush to Haldirams and Jagdish Stores, the area residents are today finding it difficult to venture out of their houses.
Similarly, a couple of paid parking sites near the community centre in B-7, Vasant Kunj, are still functioning despite the traffic police's opposition. The traffic police had also objected to the newly made parking lot near Lotus Temple, but the MCD went ahead with the allotment. While the civic body claims to have withdrawn the contract, visitors to Lotus Temple are still being asked to pay for parking their vehicles.
As per rules, the MCD has to take a no-objection certificate from the traffic police before creating new parking lots, especially if they are on the city roads. However, traffic police contend that the MCD does not follow the procedure, leading to congestion on arterial roads. "At times, parking lots are allotted without even consulting us. The MCD has absolutely no mechanism to ensure that the authorised parking lots are being maintained as per contract," said Qamar Ahmed, joint commissioner police (traffic).
Meanwhile, the MCD contests that it follows the traffic police's suggestions. "We have the tough job of providing organised parking space with limited infrastructure. But still we consider the feasibility of all the parking sites before allotting them. The stretches of roads that are being used for parking do not hamper the traffic flow," said Amiya Chandra, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Remunerative Projects Cell of MCD.