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The world’s a parking space, albeit illegal

The parking mafia is slowly taking over prime land in the city in the garb of parking lots. Neelam Pandey and Sanjeev Ahuja report.

delhi Updated: Apr 22, 2011 00:27 IST

The parking mafia is slowly taking over prime land in the city in the garb of parking lots. While some parking contractors run illegal parking lots by bribing their way, many authorised ones take over the surrounding land that isn’t a part of the authorised parking lot. Small lanes in residential or commercial areas, vacant plots, public places and government land—all are being encroached upon by the parking mafia.

Civic authorities themselves admit there are more than 250 odd illegal parking lots that are running in the city. As running a parking has become a lucrative business, the contractors are always looking for more land to grab. Land has been encroached in many areas like Greater Kailash, East of Kailash, Saket, Malviya Nagar, Chandni Chowk, Sarita Vihar, Munirka, Rajouri Garden, Nehru Place, among others.

The traffic police that is supposed to book them for these offences seems oblivious of their presence. “We know the problem exists and we are investigating such operations and cracking down on them,” said Satyendra Garg, joint commissioner of police, (traffic).

Civic authorities claim it is quite difficult to keep a tab on them. “We have told the contractors to carry out proper markings on the parking lot so that cars are not parked outside the permissible limit. They have been told to put up a board specifying the number of vehicles that can be parked there,” said a senior MCD official requesting anonymity.

And the scenario is no different in Gurgaon or Noida, where even the green belt has been taken over.

With land prices sky-rocketing, Gurgaon too is no stranger to this phenomena of grabbing prime land for parking lots. Green belts along major roads like Gurgaon expressway and MG road have been taken over.

Parking lots have come up in vacant plots owned by clueless NRIs. And this is the chief reason why the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has failed to attract bidders for the multi-storeyed parking projects. Not even a single company submitted its bid when HUDA floated tenders for multi-storeyed parking projects in Gurgaon.

In Noida too, which has only 14 legal parking lots, the parking mafia is raking in the moolah. More than 60 unauthorised parkings are running in sectors 57, 58, 59, 60, 125,126,127, etc. “A few years ago, a journalist was found running an unauthorised parking near a hospital. He had printed the parking slips too. It was closed when nearby residents objected,” said a senior police officer.