A common problem binds all parts of south Delhi — getting a space to park your car. And it cuts across areas: Be it a posh colony with big bungalows or crammed neighbourhoods without a glimmer of sunlight, waiting to be authorised.
Cars are parked just about everywhere; along colony roads, and bylanes, leaving very little space for pedestrians and emergency vehicles.
Neighbours fighting with each other over parking space in colonies such as Greater Kailash I, Green Park, Saket, Malviya Nagar, Lajpat Nagar and New Friends Colony is not uncommon.
The absence of any multi-level parking or underground lots in this section of the city only aggravates the problem. At the existing parking spaces, overcharging has become the norm. Virtually nobody charges the civic body-approved rate of Rs 10 per hour.
A nexus between parking contractors, officials and corporators aides the parking mafia.
“In south Delhi, a majority of people don’t care whether the rate is Rs 20 or Rs 10. They just pay the parking attendants whatever they are asked to pay. On weekend, the rates can go up to Rs 50-100. There was directive from the Lieutenant-General’s office to hike the parking rates but it was not done. Anyway they are collecting double and the booty is being shared between politicians, lower staff and contractors,” a source said.
The remunerative project cell of the civic body, which is in-charge of the parking lots in its jurisdiction, takes swift action against any complaints of overcharging, at least on paper.
“We keep conducting regular inspections of these lots. If people send us their complaints about overcharging through a letter and attach the tampered parchi, photo or a video clip of the violating lot, we immediately take action,” an official said.
According to him, the department has already taken various actions against errant contractors. But residents usually complain about the absence of boards displaying parking rates.
At the Priya Complex in Vasant Vihar, the parking rate is Rs 20 for an hour.
The charge increases after that for every consecutive hour. The parking attendant at the lot, Suresh (name changed on request), said that these were the regular rates charged at every parking lot.
“These are normal rates in south Delhi. No one pays Rs 10 here. It is Rs 20 or more depending on the space crunch at that particular time,” he said, adding that it is a demand-supply thing.
Impromptu lots, to cater to the demand for parking space, can be seen at INA.
The road outside the Dilli Haat parking lot is often used by the parking authorities to accommodate the visitor rush but an additional Rs 10 is charged for it.
The parking lot opposite Best Garments also charges Rs 20.
“We need space to park. They provide us a slot even in the rush hours. Who cares if they take Rs 20 extra as long as we get a parking space,” Sameer Kumar, a Green Park businessman, said.
However, the municipal corporation refuses to budge on the issue of increasing the paltry parking rate. Corporators say they have to think of the people who have elected them and refuse to put additional burden on them.
When the “burden” can actually go to the civic body’s coffers and speed up development works, it is making a select few richer.