The first day of the multi-level basement parking in Sector 17 on Tuesday also saw closure of two prime parking lots in front of the showrooms, leading to protest by traders who declared a bandh till 1pm on Wednesday. The new parking with a capacity of 724 cars, meanwhile, saw about 600 cars parked there, but there was chaos in the older parking lots behind showrooms that were preferred by a large number of people in the daytime.
Tuesday’s protest in front of the municipal corporation office next to the market was led by UT Congress president and former mayor Pardeep Chhabra. On Wednesday, senior BJP leader and former Union minister Harmohan Dhawan will take the lead even as it is his party that is ruling the MC. “Sector 17 is already suffering huge losses because of the malls,” Dhawan said.
He added that the protesters won’t allow cars of the mayor and the MC commissioner to be parked inside the corporation premises on Wednesday, “and only then will they know the reality”. The traders, who had met UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki on the matter a few days ago in the leadership of Dhawan, formed a joint action committee for the protest.
“Despite assurances of not closing the lots down, they have done that,” said Neeraj Bajaj, president of Business Promotion Council, Sector 17. HS Gujral, vice-president of the council, said, “The multi-level parking was constructed to provide additional space, not to close down the existing lots.”
Chhabra added, “When we (MC) approved the new parking project, nowhere was it mentioned that the older lots would be closed down. It was approved as an addition, to ease congestion. It is surprising that before taking such a decision the mayor did not consult me; I am the area councillor.”
The mayor, Arun Sood, appeared iffy again while he acknowledged that the closure was his “individual decision, based on the proposal of Smart City to liven up the plaza area by organising various events and activities”. He added, “The UT administrator has said during the inauguration of the new parking that we would review the decision.”
Traders have suggested that the parking at the now-closed lots could be more than that at the multi-level lot. That way, at least those who want to park closer to the showrooms have that option, they have argued.
The operation and management of the new parking has been given to Gurgaon based-company MAAC Infrastructure Private Limited at Rs 6.2 lakh per month. Besides, the MC has deployed guards and watchmen at Rs 3 lakh a month. The move to close down the older lots is being seen as a means to make the new one popular and financially viable, since Sector 17 has seen a decline in footfall over the past few years in favour of malls.