Millennium Post

At your own peril

Parking your vehicle even at a dedicated premise in the national capital, for which you even pay a fee, doesn’t necessarily guarantee its safety. That’s because the parking tickets in fine print say — ‘park your vehicle at your own risk’.

While in many a situation, the whole parking operation may be illegal and even in cases where it’s legal, the parking contractor absolves himself from any kind of responsibility by issuing the ticket.

‘No one will be held responsible in case of any damage or theft of your vehicle at the parking premise,’ some of the parking contractors clearly mention on the parking receipt given to customers. When Millennium Post investigated the matter, it came across several parking premises which were either running illegally or vendors were charging fee without taking any responsibility of the vehicle.

In most of the cases, unauthorized and illegal vendors do not mind parking in encroached lots as witnessed even in up-market areas like Greater Kailash I, East of Kailash, Malviya Nagar, Vasant Vihar and commercial pockets like Jama Masjid, Karol Bagh, Chandni Chowk, Rajouri Garden and Nehru Place, among others. The space beneath flyovers such as in Defence Colony and Munirka too has not been spared.

Even at Terminal 2 of the Delhi Airport parking, the operator clearly mentions on the receipt, ‘the company is not liable for any loss/damage to any vehicle, its contents and accessories. Vehicles and goods are parked at the owner’s risk.’ One can find similar parking receipts at Connaught Place, Laxmi Nagar, Mayur Vihar among others.

The vendor at Delhi airport Terminal 2 has gone a step further and mentioned on the receipt ‘a maximum rate will be charged if this ticket (parking receipt) is lost.’ When asked of what value is the ticket that doesn’t guarantee safety of vehicles, the parking attendant replied ‘this is our company policy. You can go to the police to file a complaint against us.’

The motorists who pay parking charges for the safety of their vehicles are being cheated, misinformed and overcharged by the vendors across the city. They are at the mercy of the parking vendors for the safety of their vehicles. In case of any theft or damage they have to run from pillar to post to file a complaint and face innumerable difficulties to even claim insurance. While in many cases, the police file a case of criminal breach of trust under the IPC section 406, instead of filing a vehicle theft case under Section 379. This automatically brings down the figure of vehicles’ theft cases.

According to sources, there are more than 100 illegal parking lots in Delhi alone. In comparison, there are 208 legal parking lots that can accommodate 20,000 vehicles. These parking lots are struggling to meet the demands of the Capital that is adding nearly 1,000 vehicles every day. Space crunch has made motorists willing to shell out extra to park their vehicles.

Meanwhile, according to city cops, the parking authorities cannot escape from their responsibilities by writing down anything on their parking receipts. ‘If the vehicles are parked in authorised parking areas, it becomes the responsibility of parking authorities to keep them safe and secured till the keys are handed over to the vehicle owners. If there is any damage caused or a theft takes place from the parking premises, the authorities will be booked for criminal negligence charges as per the law,’ said a senior police official.

Earlier, a study conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that nearly 1,300 vehicles come out on Delhi’s roads each year, requiring parking space equivalent to nearly 310 football fields. The study says that nearly 10 per cent of the total urban land in Delhi is under parking — that too for cars that remain stationed at one place for nearly 90% of the time and help meet only 14% of Delhi’s travel needs.

‘Whenever a vehicle is stolen from a paid parking area, it is a case of ‘breach of trust’, said Anil Shukla, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic). ‘There are several parking places, including the one at IGI airport, where they explicitly mention on the ticket that they hold no responsibility for theft of any vehicle or loss of accessories attached to it. It doesn’t matter what they mention. The charge that the people pay for parking vehicles, is in exchange of security,’ Shukla adds.

Most of the parking lots are unregulated and safety provisions are unavailable. The vehicles may be vandalised and stolen with no one being held accountable. This is also a loss of revenue from parking fees and the money raised by contractors doesn’t go to the government.

The civic agencies recently admitted that there are a number of parking lots in the city, which are being run by parking mafias who are making huge amount of money out of it. It has thus become imperative to crack down on unauthorised parking sites run by the mafias, allegedly in nexus with several traffic personnel and staff of the respective Municipal Corporations. Hope, the authorities are ready for some showdown!
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