Parking fee hike kicks in: ‘Sidelined’ by MC officers, Chandigarh mayor to take up issue with Badnore
A full-scale war of words has broken out between elected representatives of the Chandigarh municipal corporation and its senior officers over hike in parking rates. Councillors allege that officers are favouring the parking contractor and have completely sidelined the elected representatives in giving the go ahead for the hike from April 1.
However, the officers claim they are legally bound to increase the parking rates. In the second hike since December last year, parking rates in the city have been doubled again. While car owners have to pay Rs 20 for the first four hours, two-wheeler riders have to cough up Rs 10 for the same period. The same amount will be added every subsequent two hours.
Matter so far
The civic body had awarded Mumbai-based Arya Toll Infra Rs 15-crore contract to maintain all 25 parking lots. It was decided that the firm will provide smart facilities, including boom barriers, attendants at 50 metres and earmarked space for women and handicap. After the technical committee reported that the agency has complied with the MoU conditions, the MC House okayed the doubling of rates in December last year along with introduction of time slabs. It was also approved to double the rates again from April 1, 2018.
However, in the finance and contract committee meeting held on March 20, mayor Davesh Moudgil said the hike was out of question as there were several complaints against the contractor and it was also to pay the balance of Rs 7 crore. The issue again came up in the House meeting on March 26, where mayor reiterated that the hike will take place only once the firm pays the balance and complies with conditions of the MoU by April 15.
However, on March 28, MC joint commissioner Tejdeep Saini issued a letter to Arya Toll Infra, allowing it to increase the parking rates from April 1.
War of words
“The officers are favouring the company by issuing them the letter to increase the rates without my consent,” said the mayor. “The elected representatives have been sidelined. When it was decided in the finance panel and House meets that the rates will not be increased, then how could they give the go ahead?”
Moudgil said he will take up the matter with UT administrator VP Singh Badnore. “I do not want to burden the common man when there are no facilities at parking lots,” he said. Former mayors Raj Bala Malik and Arun Soon too questioned the hike.
“It is wrong on the part of MC officers to ignore the decision of the finance panel and House,” said Malik. “Moreover, the lots are not even smart yet.” “The officers should be held accountable if they have not followed the MoU and given the nod for hike,” said Sood.
However, MC joint commissioner Tejdeep Singh Saini maintained that the technical committee in its report had found everything in place.
“The letter for rate hike has been issued on directions of the competent authority, ie MC commissioner. We were legally bound to do so,” he said.
Saini said the MC will ensure all the conditions, like presence of attendants every 50 metre, are met. “In a democratic setup, how can the bureaucracy sideline elected representatives? All parking lots are in bad shape. There is haphazard parking, no attendants are there and there are signboards,” said RTI activist RK Garg.