The Walled City is choked. And your car won’t be welcome here.
“There is no room to park your vehicles in places such as Chandni Chowk, Chawri Bazar and Paharganj. We thought the arrival of the Metro will help reduce the traffic. But that hasn’t happened. The situation has gone from bad to worse,” said Sanjay Bhargava, a Chandni Chowk trader.
And newer areas of north Delhi such as Rohini are well on their way to getting there. Already, illegal lots and fleecing by parking attendants have become rampant in these areas. Political compulsions have stopped the civic body from raising parking charges for the past several years as they do not want to add to the ‘woes of the common people’. But that hasn’t stopped many parking lots from hiking charges.
“The monthly rate is Rs. 600 but we are charged Rs. 1,000. They are looting the residents of north Delhi,” Sohail Akhtar, a resident of Paharganj said.
Read: Mafia with ‘good contacts’ run illegal parking near Jama Masjid, block roads
Many residents and traders complain that the contractor at the Parade Ground parking has been charging Rs. 30 as against the official Rs. 10. “One fine day, they started charging Rs. 30 for surface parking. If anyone raises a voice, they are threatened and ordered not to park here,” Amit Kumar, a trader at Chandni Chowk, said.
The Parade Ground parking has now been transformed into a mini bus terminus where one often sees tourist buses and goods vehicles parked right in front of municipal boards that clearly say the space is reserved for cars, motorcycles and scooters.
North civic body officials said parking contractors had been told to follow various guidelines. Violations will result in hefty fines and even cancellation of licences.
“The violations include parking attendants without uniforms, lack of a proper complaint register, overcharging and absence of notice boards with detailed information, etc. “First-time offenders will have to pay 25 per cent of their license fee as fine.
It will rise to 50 per cent the second time, 75 per cent the third time and 100 per cent the fourth time. If a contractor is found overcharging the fifth time, his licence will be cancelled,” spokesperson of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation YS Mann said.
But the agency seems tardy in implementing these guidelines because several parking lots are flouting these norms with impunity.
Read: ‘Even I have faced overcharging at lots’
The multi-level lots, too, remain largely under-utilised. One grim example of that is the Asaf Ali Road underground parking near Delite Cinema. Tiny bulbs are the only sources of light in the dark second basement.
The first basement is slightly better with tubelights dotting the ceiling though the gaps between two of them should be lesser.
Liquor bottles lie strewn in every corner. Vehicles covered with dust — dilapidated four-wheelers and two wheelers — lie parked there for months, if not years, and take up almost 25 per cent of the three levels of the parking lot.