What’s the fuss? Hike in parking rates came as per pact, with approval of House

Mayor’s opposition to the hike doesn’t have a firm ground as his party was in power last year when the hike was approved first from December and then from April.

punjab Updated: Apr 05, 2018 15:24 IST
Vivek Gupta
Vivek Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh MC,Parking rates Chandigarh,Mayor Davesh Moudgil
A smart parking in Sector 17, Chandigarh. As per the agreement, new rates were subject to the condition that the firm arranges electronic ticketing, adequate CCTV cameras, kiosks at entry/exit points, markings for different vehicles, sufficient number of employees, and barricading to control vehicles. (Karun Sharma/HT)

Mayor Davesh Moudgil’s opposition to increase in parking rates stands on a slippery pitch as it was his party, BJP, that was in power last year when the hike was approved first from December and then from April.

The hike is also incorporated in the three-year agreement signed between the private firm and the MC last year in May. The MC had got Rs 14.78 crore per annum as licence fee from the firm, which is nearly five times what it use to get earlier; and “smart” operation facilities in all 25 paid parking lots.

The charges earlier were Rs 2 for two-wheelers and Rs 5 for other vehicles, which doubled in December and also were made slab-wise. This meant, for first four hours, Rs 5 for two-wheelers and ₹10 for four-wheelers; and then addition of the same amount every two hours.

And these were doubled again to slabs of Rs 10 and Rs 20, respectively, from April 1. The double of these rates is charged in lots near three prime malls. The hike was done to discourage use of private vehicles and to provide smart facilities such as automatic barriers and better management.

There is no further revision in the rates in the remaining period of the pact that starts from June 19, 2017.

Before the contract was awarded to Mumbai-headquartered Arya Toll Infra Limited, all terms and conditions, including revision of rates, were cleared by the MC House under the leadership of Moudgil’s party colleague and predecessor Asha Kumari Jaswal.

He was also member of the House, which is elected every five years but picks a new mayor every year. He was elected mayor this year.

As per the agreement — a copy of which is with HT — new rates were subject to the condition that the firm will give electronic ticketing, have adequate CCTV cameras, place kiosks at entry/exit points, make markings for different vehicles, have sufficient number of employees, and ensure barricading to control vehicles.

Installation of automatic boom barriers is not mandatory.

In December last year, an MC team headed by a joint commissioner certified that all the facilities were in consonance with agreement. This cleared the way for rate revisions.

Joint commissioner Tejdeep Singh Saini told HT that the firm has complied with the majority of the conditions. “But we have stepped up our vigil and will not hesitate to penalise the firm for dilution any facilities,” he added.

Firm weighing options

The contractor is ready with options if the MC House rolls back the hike, as the mayor has said he would make that an agenda item in the next meeting to be held this month. “The House will decide on the increase,” he has said.

Arya Toll Infra local in-charge Sunil Badlani said the firm will take “appropriate safeguards” since it has spent “₹20 crore” in implementation of the project.

“No firm would have taken the contract to manage the parking lots here as per old rates if it had to pay ₹15 crore per annum in licence fee and then bring host of smart facilities,” he added.

He said that firm has revised the rates after complying with all provisions of the contract. “The MC should now honour its part of the pact.”

The mayor has underlined that the firm has delayed payment of licence fee to be paid quarterly, to the tune of Rs 3.69 crore. Badlani accepted that payments in the last two quarters were delayed “but were cleared with 12% interest per annum”.

“We have to clear the existing quarter’s liability (April to June) by April 15 and Rs 1 crore has already been paid. The rest will be paid very soon,” he said.

While the rates are a bone of contention and some traders have been protesting it, the residents at large have not held any protest.

The rates also have a provision of monthly pass, which is Rs 1,600 a month for a car across all 25 lots. Two-wheelers are charged Rs 800. For a particular lot it is Rs 600 and Rs 300, respectively, per month.

The lots are in Sectors 8, 9, 17, 22, 34, 35 and 43, besides outside Elante Mall, Sukhna Lake, Fun Republic and Piccadilly Mall.

First Published: Apr 05, 2018 15:24 IST