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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Jul 2014

Parking space crunch in Central Delhi Markets

Ritam Halder, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 26, 2014
First Published: 11:23 IST(26/5/2014) | Last Updated: 13:31 IST(22/7/2014)

The lush green Central Delhi with its broad roads, grand buildings, elegant bungalows and high security zones is arguably one of the most-well planned areas of the country. However, the planners did not anticipate the humungous volume of vehicular traffic or the corresponding demand for parking space and the result is there for all to see.

Be it the busy Connaught Place, the trendy Khan Market, the comparatively quiet Yashwant Place, the salient Lodhi Garden or the active Mandi House stretches — getting a parking space is a nightmare in most areas in Central Delhi.

“It is a huge problem. I don’t bring my car to work only because there is no parking space left by the time I come. It takes more than half an hour to search for space across nearby parking lots,” Raj Kumar, who works at a private firm in Connaught Place, said.

Add to this the various impromptu lots located in the smaller roads and lanes. And whatever little open space had remained shrinks.

“The space crunch is so severe I prefer parking my car at less crowded sections like Vakil Lane, Hailey Lane and Telegraph Lane. Not many cars remain parked here and there are no issues of traffic cops prosecuting you for parking here. Plus one doesn’t have to pay any parking charge as well,” Sujay Gupta (name changed on request), who works at a firm at Barakhamba Road, said.

And then there is overcharging! Be it in the Inner Circle of Connaught Place, at sections in Khan Market, stretches near Mandi House or any other frequently visited corner —you have attendants asking for more than the approved rate, with or without a “parchi” (a paper slip).

“The problem is not everyone is aware of the rates. And they just pay-up whatever is demanded from them,” Rakesh Agarwal, a resident of Sarojini Nagar, said.

The New Delhi Municipal Council in a meeting in April last year had decided that the parking rates of `10 for the first two hours would be replaced by `20 for the first hour and subsequently `20 for each hour and so on.
But the hike was deferred in July as no private entity participated in the tender process for operating the parking lots with revised rates.

“The last date for submission of bids was July 23 and high reserved rates for the parking lots might have been one of the reasons for no response to the tender process by the private operators,” a senior NDMC official said, adding that it was then decided to continue with the existing parking rates.

“Even after that, the tendering process was done twice but there were no takers. Then came a proposal to hand over the lots to the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited. Once this is complete, the revised rates will be effective,” he said, adding that by June 15 all 100-odd NDMC lots will be handed over to DIMTS.

“By handing over the upgrade and management of these lots to one body, we have made sure that no private parking contractors will remain in the NDMC area. And there won’t be any overcharging. People will pay the revised parking tariff,” said NDMC chairman Jalaj Shrivastava.

Even as new tariffs may not provide relief at Khan Market, the famed shopping area’s only hope is the redevelopment plan. The NDMC has an ambitious plan to de-congest the area, which includes the construction of a  massive underground parking.
An underground parking lot will help solve the parking chaos at the 63-year-old market. This parking lot will be connected to the nearest Metro station.

According to NDMC officials, the parking will stretch across the length and breadth of the market. It will be a huge compound with a tunnel to the Metro station.

Once the new parking lot comes up the existing surface parking lot will be turned into walking space for shoppers at this market where monthly rentals are as high as `1,250 per sq ft.


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