To solve Delhi’s parking crisis, there is a policy. But will it work?
In 2019, the Delhi government notified the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules to address the parking crisis in the Capital through area-specific planning.
Two years later, the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has approved two parking-related policies: Dynamic parking norms, and development control norms for multilevel parking.
While dynamic parking norms define the permissible parking space in any new building (only commercial and institutional) based on its proximity to metro stations and multilevel parking lots (MLCPs), the latter defines the norms for construction of MLCPs on a public-private partnership basis. The land-owning agency has sent the two policies to the Union housing and urban affairs ministry for notification, said a senior DDA official.
The policies together will play a vital role in addressing the parking problem, according to the DDA and Delhi government officials, who are aware of the development.
The real challenge is in the implementation and enforcement of the policies. Transport experts say that the parking problem can be addressed only if there is coordination and synergy among government agencies. They cite the following problems in the approach of various agencies in addressing the crisis:
Unmet implementation targets
The Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019, have largely remained on paper. As per the policy, municipal corporations were to prepare parking area management plans (PMAP) in which on-street parking spaces will be earmarked after a proper assessment to ensure a dynamic pricing mechanism.
Two years on, three corporations have prepared a few PMAPs and implemented only five-six of them.
The South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) prepared 19 PMAPs, but only two, in Lajpat Nagar market and Lajpat Nagar-III, have been implemented completely, officials said. In the Malviya Nagar market, it has been partially implemented.
Prem Shankar Jha, deputy commissioner (remunerative project cell), SDMC, said, “We have prepared 17 PMAPs and uploaded them on our website for people’s suggestions. But there is not much [of a] response from people. Due to Covid-19, we couldn’t implement the projects. But we are now trying to expedite the process.”
The other two corporations, north and east, are working on PMAPs and have implemented one each in Kamla Nagar and Krishna Nagar.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment, said that the timely implementation of PMAPs is key to addressing the problem of parking in residential neighbourhoods and markets.
She added, “Years after the parking policy was notified, the PMAPs are yet to be prepared and implemented. The Supreme Court had mandated that PMAPs should be prepared for the rest of the city.”
In a meeting held in August, the Delhi government’s transport department asked the corporations to expedite the process. “We have asked corporations to identify high footfall areas in the city and prepare PMAPs. We have asked them to expedite the process,” said a senior Delhi government official.
The current shortcomings: Standalone MLCPs
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) is planning to construct four MLCPs in Ajmal Khan Road, Old Rajendra Nagar, Shastri Nagar, and Pusa Lane, all located within a radius of two-to-three kilometres.
Jogi Ram Jain, chairman of North Corporation’s standing committee said, “There is a huge requirement for parking in Karol Bagh and nearby areas. These four parking lots not only provide relief to traders, shoppers but also to residents.”
But transport experts say that planning standalone MLCPs will not serve any purpose and cites the example of existing MLCPs at Sarojini Nagar, Baba Khadak Singh marg, among others.
Another example is the automated MLCP at Yusuf Sarai, which was inaugurated last year. Jha said that the parking lot was not being used due to the availability of on-street parking in and around it. The SDMC recently increased the surface parking rate in the Yusuf Sarai market to make people use the MLCP, which was constructed at approximately ₹18 crore.
“As part of our area-specific plan, we have doubled the parking rate in the market from ₹20 to ₹40 per hour. Now, we get more cars at this MLCP,” said Jha.
Transport expert Ashok Bhattacharjee, former director of Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre (UTTIPEC), said that all the multilevel parking lots in the city are under-utilised due to poor planning and enforcement.
Bhattacharjee said, “The focus should be shifted from ‘parking supply management strategy’ (creating more parking capacity by constructing standalone multilevel parking in addition to existing parking on roads and footpaths) to ‘parking demand management strategy’ (area level integrated parking management plan with short-term and long-term provisions).”
A lack of synergy among government agencies
Experts believe that there is a lack of coordination between government agencies. Bhattacharjee said that from planning to enforcement, the problem of coordination persists.
A multilevel car parking lot will never be successful if on-street parking around it is permitted.
Bhattacharjee said, “Strict enforcement measures and a coordinated approach by the municipal authorities and the traffic police are needed to address the parking problem in the city. Both parking and traffic problems in residential and commercial areas will never be solved if roads and footpaths are allowed by the concerned authorities to be occupied by cars.”
The exclusion of residential areas
As per the dynamic parking norms approved by DDA, all new buildings —except residential projects — coming up near metro stations and multi-level car parking lots have 10%-30% less parking space. The policy is aimed at ending congestion by preventing parking on the road and encouraging the use of public transport.
Once notified by the Centre, parking space for new buildings will be defined not only by the use of the premises, but also the access to public transport and parking lots.
As per the new norms, for a property (except residential ones) located within 500 metres of a metro station, there will be a 30% reduction in the permissible parking space. For properties located more than 500 metres and less than 800 metres from a metro station, there will be a 15% reduction. For properties coming up within a one-kilometre radius of a multi-level parking lot, 10% of the permissible parking space will be deducted.
Currently, a new commercial complex within 500 metres of a metro station has to provide three equivalent car parking spaces (ECS) for every 100 square metres of built-up area.
An ECS is the parking space that has to be provided in a building, based on its built-up space (floor area), for parking vehicles.
While transport experts have welcomed the move, they say residential areas should also be included in it, as parking is a serious problem in residential areas.
Roychowdhury said, “The parking provision in housing projects should also have the deductions proposed in other categories if they fall in the influence area of Metro stations or transit-oriented development. After the entire metro network is built in Delhi, more than half of the city will be in transit-oriented development zones (near metro stations). Therefore, if we don’t apply the metro and multi-level parking lot deduction in residential colonies, then it will mean negating the advantage of this policy.”