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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Traffic congestion, jams on Shimla roads due to shortage of parking space

There are nearly 1.65 lakh vehicles registered in Shimla urban and rural  areas. More than 10,000 vehicles were registered in Shimla urban in the last decade.

india Updated: Jul 08, 2019 16:04 IST
Gaurav Bisht
Gaurav Bisht
Hindustan Times, Shimla
Police surveys say that nearly 10,000 vehicles in Shimla are parked on both lateral and main roads, leading to traffic congestion and jams.
Police surveys say that nearly 10,000 vehicles in Shimla are parked on both lateral and main roads, leading to traffic congestion and jams.(HT Photo )
         

Already grappling with parking woes, Shimla residents are facing a tough time after a government order prohibiting parking on road side, especially the office-goers.

Police   surveys say that nearly 10,000 vehicles in Shimla are parked on both lateral and main roads, leading to traffic congestion and jams. Almost every bit of the open space on  roads has been taken over by vehicles. Roadside  parking has emerged as the biggest  hazard for travellers  in the Shimla town. The number of vehicles in Shimla town have increased from 32,228 in 2005 to 77,945 in 2018.

There are nearly 1.65 lakh vehicles registered in Shimla urban and rural  areas. More than 10,000 vehicles were registered in Shimla urban in the last decade.  The town faces acute shortage of  parking spaces, while the successive  governments  have failed to address the problem. "Parking problem is acute. There is need to rise above the politics and think seriously about the problem. I  suggest that chief minister holds an all-party meeting and  seek views from the stakeholders," says senior Left leader  Kuldeep Singh Tanwar.

There are 10 parking lots in Shimla — at Lift, near Hotel Holiday  Home, Chotta Shimla,  Vikasnagar, Snow View , Dhalli,  IGMC, Tuttikandi, SDA Complex, Sanjauli and Pantha Ghatti — that can accommodate  only, 30,000 vehicles.  the parking lot at Tuttikandi was inaugurated in March this year and is not fully operational yet.

Roadside parking

Bereft of  parking spaces, residents, travellers and office-goers park vehicles on roadside, including the main Circular Road that has 17km stretch. Vehicle owners helplessly bear the brunt as police issue challans for idle parking. Shimla police has challaned more than 60,000 vehicles till June this year.  "Where should the  vehicle owner go?  Vehicles are challaned frequently.  Buses are often overcrowded.  Government should rather promote collective transport and encourage vehicle pooling," says Baldev Sharma, a resident of Chotta Shimla.    

 Nearly 1 lakh vehicles are on road in Shimla town daily and the  number increases subsequently during the weekends due to tourist rush. Apart from  the registered vehicles, nearly 505 buses (Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) and private) ply  in Shimla town and its periphery.

Majority of   the private buses, including tourist vehicles, are parked on road side . "There is need to interlink the parking lots with computers for having a clear picture in different lots. There should be online  booking of  parking space and hotel owners should ensure parking space for customers at the time of booking," says Shimla superintendent of police Omapati Jamwal. Nearly, 8,000 to 10,000 additional  tourist vehicles enter Shimla town in the weekends.  

City mobility plan fails to take off

What has worsened the problem is failure of the successive governments in implementing the  city mobility plan drafted in 2012 that underlined the need for more parking lots in the town .  Yellow line parking  can only be created where the road width is more than 7.5 metres, while over 65% roads  in Shimla are only 6-metre wide. The city mobility plan  also envisaged  construction of five tunnels to cut the distance and facilitate smooth traffic on the Circular Road.

However, the government instead of constructing more parking lots, earmarked parking spaces along the road.  "Promoting yellow line parking along the road is just a piece-meal measure. Shimla requires permanent solution to the problem.  As many as 85 parking lots in different residential areas had been identified during  our regime, " said former mayor Sanjay Chauhan.

Parking problem is also adding to the woes of hoteliers in Shimla. There are nearly  491 registered hotels in Shimla and peripheral areas. Only a few hotels have parking spaces. Visitors find it tough to get parking  spaces in town. "Multi-story parking can be constructed on land between the railway station and bus stand.  Similarly,   another parking lot can come up near Rivoli bus stop," says Sanjay Sood, president of Shimla Hotelier and  Restaurateurs  Association.

Parking problem  often leads to traffic jams on  lateral  roads that intersect  the Circular Road at 66 locations, which decelerate the vehicle movement. "At times they  spend hours inside  vehicles looking for parking. Consequently,  tourists prefer other destinations close to Shimla instead of staying in the main town," says  Suresh Dogra, owner  of travel agency.

Steps after mishap

After the school bus accident that killed three persons, including two girl students, chief minister Jai Ram Thakur  ordered the district administration to put up signages of  ‘Authorsed Parking Zone’ as well as ‘No Parking Zone’. Bus  veered off the road  on July 1 when the driver  tried to avoid vehicles parked on the road side on the narrow  road connecting Jhanjeri with Khalini.  Thakur ordered the municipal corporation to expedite work on three parking lots and called for identifying new  parking in the town. The government has prohibited parking within 50 metres of schools where children board and deboard buses. The government also directed the departments to create parking spaces on its premises.

First Published: Jul 08, 2019 16:04 IST