Nitin Pujari (name changed), an executive with a multinational company located in a Global Business Park, pays Rs 3,500 per month for parking his car inside the building. That’s almost 10 per cent of his Rs 40,000 salary. Yet, his acquaintances and business associates who visit him have to pay parking charges of Rs 40 for the first four hours and Rs 100 if they stay any longer.
The situation is no better in DLF Cybercity, Gurgaon’s Mecca of multinational IT companies. Visitors have to pay at least Rs 50 to park for up to four hours here, although the parking lots are all carved out on a dusty ground. Even bikers pay a minimum charge of Rs 15.
Many such parking lots have been created on not only roads and vacant construction sites but also on designated green belts—the very lungs of the city. The situation is no better in malls, where the charges shoot up on weekends from Rs 30 for four hours.
However, the Haryana is still to formulate a policy regarding parking lots. The green belts on both sides of Gurgaon Expressway are encroached upon either by the parking mafia or by companies in the name of maintaining the green areas.
Crores of rupees that could have gone into the government kitty as revenue from parking are collected daily by the mafia from powerless visitors, who have no forum to take up their case. A drive along the Expressway shows thousands of cars parked all along it.
Multi-level parking in this Millennium City is nowhere to be seen and first multi-level parking facility Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has proposed in Sector 43 is unlikely to come up before 2010. Ironically, HUDA has devised the parking fee structure for the operator in such a way that motorists would have to pay Rs 10 for the first two hours in peak time and the same amount for four hours in non-peak hours. The monthly charges would be Rs 1000 and Rs 600 respectively.
“Nine percent of my salary goes towards parking every month. This is in addition to the fuel expense of Rs 2,000. I do not understand why the administration does not exercise any check on parking rates,” said Pujari.
Anil Malhotra, a businessman from Delhi who regularly visits Gurgaon, complained that the city was in the grip of a parking mafia and the government had turned a blind eye to it. He said, “Wherever I go to Gurgaon for work, I find that the parking mafia charges motorists Rs 40 to Rs 50 for a single entry of four hours, which is too much.”
Defending their high parking charges, the mall authorities said that it was a deliberate move as they wanted to discourage idlers and window-shoppers from coming in. “Some of the visitors would earlier use malls as parking lots. Though we have outsourced parking management to a company, we have control on their fee. We have introduced a progressive parking fee structure, which means that the user has to pay for the time he parks his vehicle inside the mall,” said Baljit Singh, Vice-president, MGF Malls.
When asked about her take on the problem, Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner Deepti Umashankar said that she was not aware of any parking policy or the parking mafia. Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon Commissioner Rajiv Sharma maintained that there was no policy in place for setting a limit on parking fee.
“We have the authority to regulate the parking fee only in the parking lots that we lease out in open auctions,” he said.