MCD’s decision to allow commercial activities on 1,979 city roads has come as good news for traders but for the people whose houses are next to these roads, it is the beginning of a nightmare.
Residents of Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony and Safdarjang Enclave, where roads have been declared as commercial, say parking is going to be the biggest problem. As it is these colonies face an acute parking crisis as most households own more than one car.
“Lajpat Nagar is already full of cars parked illegally, most lining both sides of roads,” said Kunal Arora, a resident. “Fights among neighbours over parking are common. The situation would turn worse now.”
Traffic experts agree. “The government should have thought of traffic management as a prelude to allowing land-use change,” said Rohit Baluja, president, Institute of Road Traffic Education.
“As it is we do not have any discipline on Delhi roads, now it is going to be even more chaotic.”
Traffic management has never been a part of planning in the city. Recently, in a report on implementation of parking policy submitted in the SC, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority said parking capacity planned for shopping malls being constructed by DDA in Vasant Kunj, Saket and Jasola are not adequate.
If this is the parking plan in huge projects, the state of parking in newly commercialised roads can well be imagined. Unlike Lajpat Nagar, commercial activity has been allowed on only one stretch of a peripheral road in Safdarjang Enclave but residents say the impact would be adverse even on inside roads.
“There used to be many car showrooms on the Africa Avenue which shifted after the sealing drive started. Now that the road has been commercialised, we will again have such showrooms,” said Pankaj Agarwal, president of Safdarjang Enclave RWA. “Cars of these showrooms block main roads. Staff of these showrooms also park their cars inside the colony. Even customers take trial runs of new cars inside colony roads,” he said.
Defence Colony is also looking at more tough days ahead. “As of now we do not have many showrooms in the area but there are lot of offices running from here that create parking problems. With full commercialisation being allowed, the problem would multiply,” said Krishnendu Bose, whose house is near the road.
MCD said it has plans to accommodate the extra traffic by constructing multi-level parking but did not elaborate by which time these would be ready. “We have identified those stretches for allowing commercial activity that already had 70% commercialisation, so there would not be a huge increase in traffic. We have planned multi-level parking in areas like GK and South Extension that would be constructed soon,” said Jitender Kochchar, leader of the house, MCD.
Leader of the opposition in MCD, Subhash Arya said that parking problem would now increase but it is for the government to solve the issue by building new parking lots. “The traders would be charged penalty for mixed land use and that money will be utilised to building the new parking lot. It is up to the government to solve the problem as soon as it can,” he said.