MCD elections: Municipal corporations struggle to fix Delhi’s parking mess
Delhi adds 1,400 cars each day but civic bodies are yet to find a parking solution as space is limited and parking rates have not matched the demand to enhance infrastructure. Municipal corporations have failed to curb parking mafia and deliver on promises to deliver multi-level, automated parking lots.MCD Elections 2017 Updated: Mar 27, 2017 10:52 IST
With a vehicular population of almost one crore, finding parking slots across the national capital is a daunting task even as an ever increasing number of vehicles chokes the city’s arteries, lanes and encroaches upon footpaths and open space.
The responsibility of providing adequate parking to every vehicle owner lies with the civic bodies, which also levy one-time parking charges at the time of registration of any new vehicle.
However, the situation on the ground has continued to worsen. Despite the civic bodies promising a host of measures, most have failed to even take off. The critics attribute corruption and non-availability of funds besides lack of comprehensive approach to deal with the mess.
Sample this. Over the past five years, the BJP-ruled municipal corporations promised a host of measures to improve parking facilities. They include constructing multi-level parking lots, increase number of surface parking, introduction of hand-held devices for issuing parking slips, uniforms for parking attendants to deter parking mafia and demarcation of parking lots to mark the legal parking zones.
However, most of these measures have either remained on paper, or were not executed properly even as motorists continue to bear the brunt. Only last week, they city witnessed a murder over a parking tiff.
Here is a look at what makes finding parking space a nightmare in Delhi.
The civic bodies made grand announcements of introducing hand-held devices, which would curb parking mafia as the records of entry and exits of vehicles would become automated. The initiative was to be introduced in North, South and East corporations. However, the measure mostly remains on paper even as system is working efficiently in some parts of New Delhi Municipal Council.
With campaign for the municipal elections heating up, the opposition has started raising the issue.
“Due to the absence of hand held devices, people park their vehicles for long hours, but manage to pay less. The money is also fraudulently directed into the pocket of vendors, instead of coffers of the corporation. There is no official record, but these activities results into losses up to crores of rupees in a year,” Congress councillor Abhishek Dutt told HT.
According to records, the north corporation earns around Rs 13 crore from parking, east civic body Rs 8 crore while the south corporation generates revenue of over Rs 50 crore annually.
Experts have been arguing for years that the corporation should increase its parking fee to deter people from buying new cars. Besides decreasing congestion, it would also help the corporations in augmenting their revenue.
However, the last time the three corporations revised their rates was in 2014 when it increased the minimum hourly charges to Rs 20 for cars from Rs 10 per hour. For the two wheelers, the rates were double to Rs 10.
Experts say these are low by international standards. “The parking charges should be market driven. The contractors should be allowed to keep the rates on hourly as well as area basis,” said Centre for Science and Environment’s (CSE) executive director (research and advocacy), Anumita Roychowdhury.
MODERNISATION SCHEMES ONLY ON PAPER
Leader of house, South Delhi Municipal Corporation Subhash Arya said that the corporation has been successful in running the multi-level parking lots, but blames the vendors for not following the contractual obligations.
He argues that since the corporations do not have enforcement powers it becomes difficult to put a constant check.
Similarly, the work for demarcating legal parking with yellow strips and uniform for parking attendants have been started few months before — almost five years after it was proposed.
There are 250 surface parking sites across the city, but the corporations have not been able to raise additional revenue from them as several of them are being used for free, said an official with North Corporation.
In some places like Kamla Market, the parking mafia allows illegal parking, he added. “Due to the surface parking not being properly managed by corporation, many had to be shut on the suggestion of traffic police as they were choking the traffic,” he said.
A proposal was passed by the standing committee of the north corporation about a year ago to allot all the parking sites to a single contractor, but the corporation said no one showed interest.
The BJP, which rules the three municipal corporations, in its 2012 manifesto came up with an ‘unrealistic’ promise of opening 100 multi-level parking sites. What came out after all these years were three parking sites at Hauz Khas, Kamla Nagar, Parade Ground and Model Town. These, too, remain under-utilised as people prefer surface parking which has almost the same rate.
South Delhi Municipal Corporation gave multiple deadlines to open its multi-level parking lots in Munirka, Hauz Khas, New Friends Colony, Jangpura, Kalkaji, Rajouri Garden and at two places in Subhash Nagar, but not one of them is completely operational till now.
Three of them were inaugurated in a jiffy ahead of the municipal pollsonly to be either closed later or parking being allowed on trial basis. For instance, the parking lot is in Munirka, though, was thrown open in January 2016 but it was marred with controversy as there was no electricity connection and and no provision for security guards. The place has capacity for 400 cars. Similarly parking lot in Subhash Nagar that was inaugurated this month and one in New Friends Colony was in June 2016. It was later found that basement was flooded due to seepage. It is presently open on trial basis.
NEXUS DERAILS PARKING GUIDELINES
The corporation, before awarding contracts to the vendors, puts in clauses for commercial vehicles such as bus, tempo to be parked at specified parking sites. However, lack of poor enforcement leads to commercial vehicles eating up the space meant for personal vehicles.
“The surface parking lot at Asaf Ali Marg is full of commercial vehicles as the parking vendor works in nexus with them,” said Abhijeet Bhatacharya, a resident.
The corporations promise display boards with rates and contractor’s name and number printed on it, so that motorists can register complaints.
Most parking vendors do not follow the instructions. And those who do, like at Ramlila Maidan and Lajpat Nagar, residents say they are of little use as vendors themselves are found violating the rules.
Saurav Gupta of Lajpat Nagar said, “What is the point of knowing the contractor’s phone number if they themselves violate the rule. There should be a control room of the corporation where people can register complain.”