The driver of the Ford Ikon gingerly steers it past the tree in the middle of the parking exit in Vasant Kunj’s C-1 block.
The tree is not out of place here as the site was a park till sometime ago. But then, parking space is at a premium in the sub-city, and roads and parks are fair game for new parking lots.
“Every house here has two to three cars but there is not enough space to park them. The residents had no option but to break the wall of the park and start using a portion of it as a parking lot,” said Savita Thamman (49) of C-1 block RWA.
“The colony roads are narrowed down by the rows of parked cars on both sides. Sometimes, double rows form on the roads when people come visiting,” said Mahasweta Chatterjee (30), a resident of D-8 block. Ongoing digging work for laying cables has further reduced space in the block, she said.
Lack of vision
When the colony was developed more than two decades ago, Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had provided a scooter garage with each flat.
“When DDA built the flats, most people had only scooters. But DDA should have had the foresight to build bigger parking spaces for us,” said Shashank Nanda (31), resident of A block.
For Nanda, parking his car is a race against time and neighbours.
“There is only so much space and the cars are too many. So, whoever finds space first gets to park,” said Nanda. “If I reach home before 9 pm, I get parking space but coming later means roaming around to find space, or just parking my car on the main road.
“That is why I ask my friends to pick and drop me off if I’m attending a party at night, so that I don’t have to bother about finding parking space in the dead of the night. Sometimes I just call for a taxi cab instead of taking my car out of the parking,” said Nanda.
Just parking your car isn’t the end of the problem, though. “Even if you manage to park your car, someone else would park his or her car in front of yours, and getting your car out in the morning becomes a problem,” he said.
Fighting for space
Residents say, even a decade ago, parking space was available and most houses had only one car. Then, residents would mark out a particular space for their vehicle, but now only the early birds get parking slots.
The quest for parking space causes fights and bad blood between neighbours. “As it is, there is not much interaction among neighbours here. Tussles over parking space vitiate the relations even more,” said Rashmi Verma (45), a C-9 block resident.
“There is not enough space inside the blocks to accommodate so many cars and there are only three authorised parking lots. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi has been promising us a multi-level parking but nothing has happened yet on the ground,” said NK Vaid, Secretary General of Federation of Vasant Kunj RWAs.
Apart from the sheer number of cars in the colony, the presence of numerous institutions like reputed schools and hospitals adds to the problem.
“There are a number of well known schools and hospitals in the area and the traffic to these places adds to the colony’s congestion,” Vaid said. “School bus drivers park their vehicles on the road 11.30 am onwards and leave only by 2 pm. Then, there are the vehicles coming to the hospitals,” he said.
Vaid said blocks like C-9 and B-8 were especially affected, as there are two or three big schools near each of these neighbourhoods. Then there are the roadside markets in blocks like C-2, which, though weekly, completely choke the colony roads.
Tuning in to the residents of Vasant Kunj
There is a big school right next to my housing block in Vasant Kunj. Everyday, the entire road gets blocked with school buses parked on it. Total chaos results every morning and afternoon. Schools should park their buses within their premises.
—Aditya Singh, 38, businessman
I am free in the afternoons and generally use the time to shop or visit my doctor. But the irony is that I get stuck in jams the moment I step out. There are school buses leaving, parents coming to pick up their children, besides private taxis and autos. RWAs should speak to the school authorities and figure out a solution to this problem.
—Seema Bhatia, 26, homemaker
DDA flats in Vasant Kunj have not been planned and constructed properly. The planned parking space for residents falls short of their requirement. Often, fights among residents result from the lack of proper parking space. DDA should chalk out a plan and enhance the space in colonies so that residents can park their cars conveniently.
—Hiten Vats, 27, lawyer
I am a professional and work from home. A lot of my clients come to see my work. It is very embarrassing as they waste 20 minutes to park their cars every time they visit me. There should be specific areas marked out for residents and guests to park their vehicles.
—Shraddha, 31, fashion designer
Our neighbourhood looks like a vegetable market in the afternoons and evenings. You get parking space on first-come-first-serve basis. If you enter late, you need to request various people to move their vehicles a bit so that you can park yours. Proper utilisation of parking space should be done.
—Ashok Sehgal, 45, shopkeeper
Their two cars of no use when they need them most
Media consultant Amitabh Srivastava (38) owns two cars, but faced with an emergency at night, this resident of C-1 block prefers to call a taxi.
“Finding parking space in Vasant Kunj is tough, but even if you find a slot, someone else would park their car in front of yours,” said Srivastava. “Recently, when I had to rush to a hospital, I couldn’t get my car out as another car was parked in front of it and I couldn’t find its owner.”
“People park their cars in any space they can find, and since most people don’t talk to their neighbours, it becomes difficult to find out which car belongs to whom when you want to move your car out,” said Swati, Srivastava’s wife.
The Srivastavas were driving out during the afternoon when the HT team met them. It took the couple more than 15 minutes just to move a car that was parked in front of their’s and then get on to the road.
“It is difficult to find any space after you return from office, and by night, you would find three rows of cars have formed one after another,” Srivastava said.
“The parking space here is limited and cars occupy the pavements on both sides of the road even in the afternoon.”
“Though there is parking space in our block, it is not sufficient at all. The authorities should try to create more space.”
Garage is good for only two wheels and discards
Like most residents of Vasant Kunj, Anil Sharma (48), a resident of D-7 block, uses his garage as a storeroom to keep old furniture and other defunct items in.
“There is nothing much else you can do with this narrow space. When we bought this house about 20 years ago, DDA had provided these garages to keep two wheelers in,” he said.
“Now each house here has two or at least one car but DDA never bothered to create extra parking space for us.”
“There is so much fighting over parking space that I just hate to move my car in and out of the colony. I hope the Metro comes here soon, so that I may be spared this daily hassle,” he said.
“The lack of parking only causes fights and bad blood among neighbours.”
Sharma, manager with a public sector undertaking, said that the narrow colony roads had become more constricted with rows of cars parked on both sides all the time.
Neighbours stoop low to conquer rare parking space
When the daughter and son-in-law of Sneh Chadhdha (61), a resident of D-7 block, came to visit her recently, parking their car was the last thing on their mind.
What they discovered the next morning shocked them beyond belief.
“Someone had scratched their Santro car all over with a blade. We just couldn’t believe our eyes,” Chadhdha said.
“I was unwell, and that is why they had come to take me to a doctor. Later, they decided to stay over. My son-in-law must have parked the car in a space that is used by some other resident, but instead of simply asking us to move the car, the neighbour damaged it ruthlessly.”
Chadhdha said parking space was perhaps the biggest and most bitterly fought over problem faced by residents of this block.
“If you look around, there is just no parking space. I’m a senior citizen and own one car but it is not easy for me to drive around to find a place to park.”
More than the problem, what troubles Chadhdha is the unpleasantness in the area that has come about due to the tussles over parking space.
“People fight madly with each other over parking space. They use abusive language and there have even been scuffles. The parking problem is worsening with time, and so are neighbourly ties.”
‘Solution would have to comply with Master Plan’
Deep Mathur, Director of Press and Information, MCD spoke to Sidhartha Roy
Lack of parking space is a major problem in Vasant Kunj. Is the Municipal Corporation of Delhi taking any steps to ease the problem and find a long-term solution?
The MCD is aware that the residents of Vasant Kunj have been facing severe problems of vehicular density and shortage of parking space. The residents have to park their vehicles on roads, which substantially reduces the width of the carriageway. The Corporation is seized of the issue and would find the solution with the support of the local residents’ welfare associations.
There are only three authorised parking lots in Vasant Kunj, which are built near commercial complexes. Does the MCD plan to open any more such parking lots in the area?
The solution to the problem of parking space has to be provided within the provisions of Delhi Master Plan-2021 to create more space for building parking lots.
Apart from creating more parking lots, is it possible to create more space within the colonies for parking?
All the encroachments on residential streets — in the form of kitchen gardens, private greens, large projections and ramps etc — need to be removed. Road cross sections may be redesigned, wherever possible, to accommodate planned car parking along the residential streets, and also create more surface movement space.
Residents of Vasant Kunj claim they have requested the MCD to solve the parking problem of the area but apart from verbal assurances, nothing concrete has been done. Do you plan to involve them in the process of creating more parking space in the area?
Residents’ welfare associations will have to be called upon to participate in this process of creating parking space by raising contributions from residents on the basis of objective criteria, such as number of cars owned.
The residents of the area want an underground or multi-level parking lot as a long-term solution to the problem. Do you plan to create such facilities?
Other parking options, in selected areas, such as creation of underground parking lots below parks and open spaces, will also have to be considered.