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Novel guidelines

Delhi notifies first-ever parking rules to restrain vehicle use as well as cut air pollution

Novel guidelines

Delhi has become the first city in India to notify parking rules as a vehicle restraint and pollution control measure.

The notification of the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019, makes all urban local bodies including all land-owning agencies liable to prepare and implement local area specific integrated parking plans (area parking plans), according to the provisions of the Delhi Master Plan 2021. This notification was issued by the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi under Section 212 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

This provides strong legal backing to a comprehensive approach to parking management — to reduce and manage demand. This rule is now consistent with the provision of the clause 2.5.3 of the Comprehensive Clean Air Plan (CAP) that was earlier notified in June 2018 to clean up the air.

The new rules

In a nutshell, the new parking rules are a consensus document of all concerned departments. The rules and guidelines attached to them seek parking area management plans across wards to identify and demarcate legal parking areas (on- and off-street) without encroaching upon green areas, footpaths, bus stops or intersections and keep lanes free for emergency vehicles.

It proposed penalties for illegal parking and variable parking pricing to manage peak parking demand. It asked for sharing of available parking facilities — both off- and on-street — for optimal use between different peak users in the area.

Parking revenue will be earmarked for local area improvement or the larger public good. The parking pricing itself is about moderating and influencing demand for parking usage and change in behaviour. Parking pricing cannot be imposed in isolation and unrelated to the overall parking management strategy for an area.

Most significant is the provision of area parking plans that are not narrowly confined to only the supply of parking lots and structures. Rather it provides for complete street and area management approach to address the need of all users in the priority order of pedestrians, cyclists, public transport related to multi-modal integration, paratransit, pick up and drop off requirements. It also addressed provisions for hawking zones, resting areas, pricing schemes for short duration and overnight parking and more. All these interests will have to be balanced equitably while providing for parking.

Parking area plans will include both residential and commercial areas. Residential area parking plan will be done in consultation with the local resident welfare associations. If needed new parking lots will be created on payment basis. Residential parking area plans will have to ensure that one lane in the colony and any road is set aside for unhindered movement of emergency vehicles including ambulances, fire tenders, police vehicles, etc.

At the same time, green areas, parks and footpaths will have to be kept parking and encroachment free. On-street parking is not allowed at least up to 25 metres from intersections on each arm of a road. It has even sought special attention to school timing so as to be able to manage temporal peak demand during the day.

While preparing the parking plans, the relevant guidelines of the Indian Road Congress, an apex body of highway engineers and street design guidelines of Delhi Development Authority and Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning & Engineering) Centre, will have to be adhered to.

The new rules provided an extensive formula for fixing the variable and dynamic parking charges. It categorically asked to maintain a differential between off- and on-street parking lots — on-street needs to be twice as much as off-street parking. This will be complemented by enforcement of no-parking zones and penalty for the violation to improve utilisation of structured parking lots.

The most notable of provisions is the utilisation of parking revenue for local development works that include pedestrian safety, non-motorised lanes and development of parking lots. There is also an explicit provision for charging electric vehicles in the parking areas.

These rules represent a dramatic shift away from the traditional approach of only augmenting parking supply without any integrated management plan to reduce parking demand and vehicle usage.

Focus on implementation

The Supreme Court directive has already given the final push to the much-awaited parking rules and guidelines by seeking its notification and implementation. The SC has given specific directives to implement three parking area plans in Lajpat Nagar III under South Delhi Municipal Corporation, Kamla Nagar under North Municipal Corporation and Krishna Nagar under East Delhi Municipal Corporation. Based on these completed pilots by December, the approach will be taken forward across the city.

This initiative has already spurred local action in Lajpat Nagar, a prominent commercial centre in Delhi where South Delhi Municipal Corporation and the local shopkeeper association and others have started to organise parking.

But for this action to gather momentum and follow the right design and principles for parking area management plans, draft rules will have to be notified immediately.

The pilot projects are expected to demonstrate how the current parking demand will be accommodated in the local area after adhering to all the legal requirements and also find spaces for excess cars. The excess demand will have to be reapportioned in the surrounding facilities. But this also exposes the inevitability of using pricing mechanism to moderate the demand.

Unfortunately, some of the clauses that have specifically dealt with the pricing provisions in residential areas have been excluded from the final notification. This weakens the provisions for residential areas where much of the parking crisis is experienced.

It is hoped that after area parking plans are prepared and implemented, these crucial clauses will also be brought back to amend the rules to manage parking demand.

The review of the area plan of Lajpat Nagar III carried out by the Environment Protection (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has illustrated this stark reality. The colony has 448 housing plots and 3,510 cars.

Through area parking plan and after adhering to the provisions of the rules (eg: keeping at least one lane free from encroachment, protecting green areas and intersections, etc) about 1,830 cars can be accommodated within the colony while leaving a gap of 1,680 cars.

The plan, therefore, found alternative sites outside the limit of this area to accommodate them in other public parking lots. This still gets stretched to the limit. Without the additional strategy of pricing and residential parking permits parking crisis cannot be managed beyond a point.

The SC has already directed the EPCA to oversee implementation of the three pilot projects in residential areas by December and also plan parking strategies for multi-modal integration of key metro stations along with last-mile connectivity to improve public transport ridership.

The new rules are a good starting point and a big step forward. This must be implemented with utmost urgency to restrain parking demand and personal vehicle usage to control congestion and pollution.

(The author is Executive Director - Research and Advocacy and head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme, campaigns for clean air and public health, Centre for Science and Environment. The views expressed are strictly personal)

Anumita Roychowdhury

Anumita Roychowdhury

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