15 months, Rs 40 lakh illegal earning, just Rs 1.5 lakh fine
It seems that parking contractor outside Elante mall in the Industrial Area does not fear law and continues to fleece visitors by overcharging.
With municipal corporation (MC) imposing a fine of Rs 21,000 on Thursday for overcharging, the contractor in the past 15 months have ended up paying Rs 1.5 lakh as fine, while he has already earned nearly Rs 40 lakh illegally (overcharging) in past 15 months.
On the other hand, MC officials feel helpless. They say, his contract cannot be cancelled as there is no such clause in the contract, but question arises that why he was given extension in November last year, when there were numerous complaints against him.
It was in November 2013 when he was allotted the contract at the rate of Rs 51 lakh for a period of one year, but he again got extension in November 2014 for another year. Every day around 600 four-wheelers and equal number of two-wheelers are parked in this parking lot.
Every month he earns Rs 1.8 lakh from four-wheelers and Rs 90,000 from two-wheelers, which means he has earned Rs 27 lakh from four-wheelers and Rs 13 lakh from two-wheelers in the past 15 months illegally (overcharging).
In the past two months, a fine of Rs 60,000 has been imposed on him for overcharging. The contractor was found charging Rs 20 for each entry of a car against the mandated charge of Rs 10 and Rs 10 for two-wheelers against Rs 5. It is learnt that the contractor had been overcharging for the past 15 months.
One of the attendants of the parking lot said, "We are used to 'fines' now and it hardly makes any difference. We have instructions from contractor to charge Rs 20 for four-wheelers and Rs 10 for two-wheelers. Visitors do not even question us on overcharging," he said.
Speaking to HT, additional commissioner Sarita Malik said, "We cannot cancel his contract as there is no such clause. We can only impose fine, which we are doing regularly. We even conduct checking whenever we get complaints."
In the finance and contract committee (F&CC) meeting held in August last year, it was decided that if the contractor was caught overcharging for the seventh time, he will pay Rs 10,000 as fine.
For the first overcharging complaint, the fine is Rs 500 and Rs 1,000, Rs 1,500, Rs 2,500, Rs 5,000 and Rs 7,500 for the second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth complaints, respectively. But the panel failed to include the clause of cancellation of the contract.
"It is becoming a serious issue and in the next meeting, we will ensure that the cancellation clause should be included in the contract. We will not tolerate inconvenience to the public," said member of the F&CC Surinder Bahga for 2015. Even after repeated attempts, parking contractor Lal Chand could be not contacted.