In the wake of the municipal elections which are due next year, the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has opened parking facilities which are yet to be completed. The move is to woo voters. Last week, an incomplete multilevel car parking at New Friends Colony (NFC) was made operational. It is yet to get necessary sanctions. Out of three floors, two were thrown open for users while work in the basement is still on.
Surprisingly, the project has not received building clearances and several services are yet to be placed in order. More importantly, the basement is flooded due to seepage, allege residents, and the agency has not resolved the issue. The project was first conceived eight years ago. Although the fire fighting equipment is in place, elevators are still missing. The officials informed that the no objection certificate (NOC) from the fire department has been taken. However, at present only one gate is open which is used for both entry and exit. The parking lot is located adjacent to the Sarai Julena Village and about a kilometre away from the main market of NFC.
While justifying the opening of the facility, Indu (who goes by her first name), a Congress councillor from Sriniwaspuri, said that the project was started eight years back, but the civic agency was not able to start the facility. Apart from the shortage of funds, constant waterlogging in the basement was the major reason responsible for the delay. “The basement often gets waterlogged. To avoid it, the SDMC installed suction pumps. However, the agency has failed to find a permanent solution to the problem,” said Indu.
She added, “We can’t let people suffer. Parking is one of the biggest issues in the area. That’s why I insisted on opening the facility and met the commissioner to convince him.” At the inauguration, SDMC commissioner Puneet Goel, Indu, former Delhi Vidhan Sabha speaker Subhash Chopra and other senior officials were also present.
Blaming the agency for not carrying out proper survey before finalising the site for the underground multilevel parking lot, Indu said, “This is a low lying area where waterlogging has been a regular issue. I objected to the project soon after becoming the councillor, but it was too late as 50% work had already been completed by that time.”
She said that a test was conducted and it was found that the quality of water seeping through the ground is of good quality. “The lab reports say it is fresh water . Following this, I advised the officials to set up a pumping station in basement with the help of the Delhi Jal Board and supply that water to the neighbouring areas, but nothing happened,” said Indu.
Apart from NFC, the SDMC is racing against time to start two more projects next month. And this includes the multilevel car parking lot at Krishan Market, Kalkaji. The project has received all clearances and people are already using it for parking cars on the first floor though it hasn’t been made operational officially. At present, the installation of lifts is still in process. It will be done in a month and after that the place will be inaugurated. The parking lot has space for parking 406 cars and constructed at the cost of Rs35 crore. Soon after inauguration, SDMC would try to hand over the site to private contractor.
The other parking lot is in Munirka. Though it was thrown open by Parmila Tokas, MLA from RK Puram in January 2016 without electricity connection and security guards, the official inauguration is expected to happen next month. Explaining the reason for the delay, the SDMC officials said that the work of installing the lift has not started here. But it will be completed in a month. The place has capacity for 400 cars and constructed at the cost of Rs28 crore. As of now, visitors are parking vehicles at two floors, free of cost.
“Regarding the oozing of water from the ground we have already written to the DJB. They can distribute the water. Once the matter is sorted, we will receive the building clearance for the parking lot,” said Puneet Goel, commissioner, SDMC.
On the other hand Feroz Ahmed, chief engineer, project, SDMC, said that the agency is working on a formula to fix the problem. “Over the years, the water level here has risen. While this was not the case eight years back when the project was designed and digging work started at the site. But we are working on a plan to utilise the water for watering neighbouring parks,” he said.
However, residents are unhappy with the development and said that both BJP and Congress are competing with each other to take credit for these projects as the municipal elections scheduled for next year. “Why would anyone be interested in leaving his vehicle inside a waterlogged complex? The place remains flooded with water and this must have weakened the foundation of the structure. It can lead to serious accidents,” said Rohit Alug, an member of NFC Residents Welfare Association.
However, the SDMC officials claimed that the structure is strong. Residents also expressed concern over inadequate security arrangements at the facility. “Except at the entrance, there is no guard deployed at the complex. The CCTV cameras are non-functional. Only one entrance is open which is used for both entry and exit , which can lead to accidents. There are no proper signages inside the complex. In the existing circumstances, no one feels safe in leaving their vehicles here,” said a resident of NFC.
“Initially, parking here is free of cost. We are yet to install elevators, but the rest of things are in place. After finishing the work we will handover the place to a private agency,” said Ahmed.
Residents also raised question over the site chosen for the construction of the parking facility. They said it is of no use for villagers of Sarai Julena as they would not come here to park their vehicles. The visitors coming to the main Market, NFC will not drive all the way to come here and then walk to the market, they said. “Ideally, the parking lot should have been constructed at the park facing the D block market, NFC,” said a resident of the area.
Prior to the construction of the parking lot, the place was used for organising functions by the villagers. And the councillor plans to continue the trend. “The villagers have no other place and thus, we will allow events to be organised at the surface of the parking lot,” said Indu.