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Parking woes

Parking woes
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ast week over a minor parking scuffle in Outer Delhi area of Bawana. In a separate incident, three members of a family were killed by their neighbour in Southeast Delhi's Jaitpur area over a long pending parking dispute between the two families.

The ‘parking-wars’ which sometimes lead to killing has become a commonplace in Delhi. Hundreds of cases are registered on everyday basis related to parking dispute in the city.

The problem of parking in the city can be viewed from two angles – residential parking and commercial parking. Delhi boasts of thousands of unauthorised colonies which have narrow lanes and streets. There's hardly any parking space in their homes forcing them to park their cars in the narrow lanes, which results in the blocking of the street. In most of the posh localities even the service roads are choked with cars making it almost impossible for the emergency vehicles such as ambulance or PCR van to pass.

The problem of commercial parking can be solved to some extent with the coming up of various multi-level parking lots in the city. However, with over 1,000 vehicles registered in Delhi on a daily basis, even these multi-level parking lots come with a huge question mark.

The shoppers face tough time finding a parking place in busy market. Chetan Sharma, an accounting professional said, ‘Whenever I go to Sarojini Nagar market for shopping with family, finding a parking spot is the biggest nightmare.’ He also added that the multi-level parking at the market is very slow and it take around 15-20 minutes to park the car.

So what has led to this increasing number of vehicles in India? According to Economic Survey of Delhi 2012-13, the number of vehicles has grown at 7.2 per cent annually in the last decade, from 31.64 lakh in 1999-2000 to 74.53 lakh in 2011-12.

A senior civic officer, who did not wish to be identified, blamed the growing number of cars in Delhi to the real-estate boom that the city has witnessed in the last two decades. ‘Buying and selling of property seems to have become a common profession for everyone in the city. With increased income more people want to buy cars’, the officer said.

To solve the parking mess in the city, it has been decided to build underground parking lot on the degraded community parks. However, the decision has come under sharp criticism from RWAs and activists. The proposal to construct a multi-level parking-cum commercial complex was recently scrapped by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) when the RWA of the area objected to it as the land was meant for green use.

Parking has already consumed 10 per cent of the city’s urban, green and open land spaces. Delhi’s forest cover is just 11 per cent.

A special task force (STF) was constituted by Delhi High Court in 2012 on traffic related issues. The STF pointed out that to solve the traffic and parking woes of the city, people need to be discouraged to use private vehicles. Therefore, it recommended steep increase in the parking tariffs to Rs 10 per half an hour during non-peak hours and additional 50 per cent during the peak hours. It believed that with such high parking rates, people will shift to public transport.

However, due to the political interference the proposed policy didn’t see the light of the day. ‘The leaders were afraid of the backlash by the public if the parking tariffs were hiked’, said an SDMC officer. The officer also said that the lack of enforcement also adds to the parking woes of the city. The multi-level parking lots in the city lies vacant, for, the parking is still allowed on the road where multi-level parking is available.

A study conducted by Centre for Science and Environment pointed out that Delhi needs an area as big as 310 football fields to accommodate the growing number of cars. However, with the ever increasing population of Delhi, the land available is only going to get squeeze up further. The lack of political will to enforce stricter rules to discourage people to use private vehicles is only going to add to the chaos.
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