All hell breaks loose nearly every day in Saket. Neighbours fighting each other over parking space is a daily sight.
Cars are parked jaggedly along the interior lanes, making colony roads resemble tinned sardines. And residents claim the crunch has only made people more territorial about their parking area. Should a visitor or a resident park their vehicle where their neighbour usually parks, sparks fly.
“There have been several instances when my guests have been woken up in the middle of the night by annoyed neighbours who wanted them to remove their cars from the ‘reserved’ parking space,” said Amit Bakshi, a resident of Saket.
And this issue isn’t restricted to merely Saket. Adjoining colonies too are facing similar problems, though the reasons for these may be different.
Areas such as Saket are predominantly DDA colonies and the parking space had been allotted when the houses came up. But as the number of cars per family increased, space became scarce. Today, not only colony roads are lined with cars and bikes, but even the narrow lanes along flats are packed.
The residents of Malviya Nagar have a similar story to tell. But most say that encroachments by private parties is what is eating up parking place.
Many also blame builder flats, which have replaced single and double storey houses, for the problem. Now six to eight families live on the same plot that would earlier house one family. Each family has at least one car, compounding the problem further.
“Almost every day a car is parked in front of my gate. You can’t even blame the people; there is simply no place to park cars anymore,” said Vinod Mahajan, a resident of Malviya Nagar.
People in colonies such as Sarvapriya Vihar and Sheikh Sarai too say they have to struggle to find a parking spot for their guests. “God forbid if someone you don’t know parks in your spot. It is almost impossible to find out whose car it is and knocking on 20 doors at night feels really rude. There have been times when I have parked my car in another block as someone had parked in my spot without leaving a contact number behind," said Garima Nair, who works late and returns home at midnight.
While most of the new constructions in the area have provisions for a parking in the basement, old constructions have no arrangements to cater to the present needs. Adding to this problem are the rampant encroachments.
Many residents have extended the boundary wall of their houses by three to four metres, eating into the space where they could otherwise have parked their cars. The cars, then, are pushed further, making the roads more narrow.
Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) have repeatedly written to the previously unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and presently the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) to address the problem. However, a response to all those pleas is still awaited.
Parking in malviya nagar market tests my patience
Sonam Setiya, student, Malviya Nagar
For Sonam Setiya, a trip to the Malviya Nagar market is as energy-consuming as a visit to the gym. Once she parks inside the deep recesses of the colony, she begins her walk to and from the market for her chores.
“I usually come here in the evening. It is a nightmare just entering the stretch that connects the main Malviya Nagar market to the rest of the area. People are always trying to find parking space and the chaos here never ceases to exist. To avoid the mad rush, we usually try and park inside the colony even though we have to walk for kilometres just to reach the main market,” she said.
But there are times when Setiya has to park in the market. This, she says, is a litmus test for her patience.
“There are times when we have a lot of things to carry and parking far away in a colony is not feasible. But finding a parking space in the main market takes anything between 20 to 30 minutes because we keep scouting for free space. The situation worsens on weekends,” Setia said.
I always watch my step to avoid a fall in Saket
MP Kohli, resident of Saket's H-Block.
In his 60s now, MP Kohli is afraid to walk on the stretch outside Saket’s H-Block to the main market. What was earlier meant to be a pavement meant strictly for pedestrians today serves as a parking area for the ever-increasing volume of cars.
“The pavements in front of the markets have been encroached upon. Now you only find cars parked on them. I have to constantly dodge cars and watch my step to avoid a fall. There are so many children and elderly people who are forced to walk on the roads since there is not an inch of space on the pavements,” he said. For Kohli, it is a nightmare he has to grapple with daily. Any attempt at seeking correction has fallen on deaf ears.
“The markets are jammed with cars and it is a nightmare because we have to keep watching our step. Taxi stands too have come up in these markets and they park their cars on the pavements too. This eats up a lot of parking space. We have written repeatedly to the civic agency on this matter, but to no avail,” added Kohli.