Jolt to AAP-Congress as Chandigarh admn clears hiked parking rates, says no to free water - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Jolt to AAP-Congress as Chandigarh admn clears hiked parking rates, says no to free water

By, Chandigarh
Jun 14, 2024 08:48 AM IST

Led by INDIA bloc councillors, the Chandigarh MC House in March had cleared the proposals for free parking and free water

Dealing a major blow to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Congress alliance in Chandigarh, the UT administration on Thursday approved hiked parking rates and rejected MC House’s free water proposal, dismissing both the freebies promised by the INDIA bloc, just nine days after their candidate Manish Tewari was elected as the city MP.

While reviewing the 24X7 water project, Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit said MC’s total expenditure was increasing on a year-on-year basis, while the revenue had not increased proportionately. Therefore, free water cannot be allowed. (HT Photo)
While reviewing the 24X7 water project, Chandigarh administrator Banwarilal Purohit said MC’s total expenditure was increasing on a year-on-year basis, while the revenue had not increased proportionately. Therefore, free water cannot be allowed. (HT Photo)

Paving the way for implementation of “Smart Parking” in Chandigarh, Punjab governor and UT administrator Banwarilal Purohit granted approval to hourly parking rates. Although these will be chargeable at the 89 parking lots run by the municipal corporation (MC), only after implementation of “Smart Parking”. Till then, the present rates — 7 for two-wheelers and 14 for four-wheelers — will continue.

Moreover, keeping in view the long-term needs of the city for replacement of the aging water supply system, benefits of 24x7 water supply project and financial health of MC, Purohit struck down the MC resolution for 20,000 litres of free water to each household each month.

The free water and free parking giveaways were originally part of AAP’s manifesto in the 2021 MC elections, but were delayed by the party’s struggle to secure the mayor’s chair for the past two years.

After Kuldeep Kumar Dhalor, who owes allegiance to the AAP, finally took charge as the Chandigarh mayor in February this year, following a long-drawn legal battle that went up to the Supreme Court, the INDIA bloc councillors had approved the two freebies in the MC house on March 7, just few days before the Lok Sabha polls were notified.

While the House had approved the proposals, they remained pending with the UT administration amid Purohit’s steadfast opposition.

The Congress had also promised free 20,000 litres of water to every household every month in its Lok Sabha poll manifesto, along with 300 units of free power to those with monthly income less than 20,000 and no new taxes.

In a contrary move, just two days after poll results, the UT electricity department proposed an average increase of nearly 19.44% in the existing power tariff for financial year 2024-25.

Terming the administration’s move “dictatorship”, mayor Kuldeep Kumar Dhalor said, “These decisions are not people-centric. The election results were a clear picture of people’s mandate, which has not been respected. This is clear dictatorship, as officers never consulted people before taking loan from a French agency for the 24x7 water project.”

Meanwhile, local Congress president HS Lucky said, “The proposals were passed by elected representatives in the MC House. The administrator should have not rushed to announce the decisions before meeting the elected representatives. We stand firm on our promises and we will strive hard to achieve these works.”

BJP proposals also rejected

While approving the new parking rates, Purohit also turned down BJP’s July 2023 proposal of charging double parking rates from four-wheelers registered outside the tricity, stating that uniform rates will be applicable irrespective of the vehicle’s registration place. Purohit also dropped the party’s plan to provide free parking to two-wheelers.

Hourly rates have been introduced to facilitate circulation of vehicles and optimum utilisation of parking space. (HT)
Hourly rates have been introduced to facilitate circulation of vehicles and optimum utilisation of parking space. (HT)

As per the new rates, the first 20 minutes will be free for pick and drop. No increase has been made in the existing parking charges for two and four-wheelers for the first slab of four hours, which are 7 and 14, respectively.

But thereon, hourly rates have been introduced to facilitate circulation of vehicles and optimum utilisation of parking space.

Also, parking in underground facilities has been incentivised by charging 5 less than the surface parking rates in all slabs. Further, to encourage the use of digital payments, MC will charge 5 extra in case of cash payments.

Monthly passes will be introduced at 300 per month for underground parking and 400 for surface parking.

MC will now invite private firms to take over the Smart Parking project, which is expected to take at least six months to reach completion.

No room for free water: Purohit

While reviewing the 24X7 water project, Purohit said MC’s total expenditure was increasing on a year-on-year basis, while the revenue had not increased proportionately. Therefore, free water cannot be allowed.

MC had apprised Purohit that by providing 20,000 litres of free water, it would incur an annual loss of 19.70 crore.

Chandigarh has already signed a loan agreement for 15 years for the 24x7 water project, leaving no room for a free water proposal, Purohit further stated, while dropping the proposal.

Of the project’s total financial outlay of 510 crore, 412 crore is being provided by French government’s Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) in the form of loan, to be repaid in 15 years. In addition, the European Union is giving a grant of 98 crore for the project. The loan amount will be recovered from residents through soon-to-be increased monthly water bills.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, July 19, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On