With nearly 1,200 vehicles being added to the city roads daily, parking problems in Delhi are compounding by the day. Colony roads, parking slots, basements and open parking areas in buildings and even open spaces now remain clogged with vehicles.
Frequent arguments, fights and even murders over the issue are becoming commonplace. The authorities have fallen well short of providing a wholesome solution to the problem. And with five lakh people coming to the city every year, even the suggested solutions come with a huge question mark.
Way back in 2004, the Supreme Court’s Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had suggested a slew of measures including promoting public transport, imposing higher parking charges and promoting multi-level parking to solve the problem.
But in the years hence, the chaos has only increased. Recently in July, the EPCA along with Centre for Science and Environment released a “parking policy” for Delhi. However, implementation is once again to be done by the Central and Delhi Governments, Delhi Traffic Police and various civic bodies, which have been found lacking.
EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal insists that if Delhi is to emerge as a vibrant city, it would have to change. He believes the private vehicle owners should be forced to pay steep rates while there should be an incentive to use public transport. “The Lajpat Nagar police find it hard to come out of the station there due to vehicular rush. This madness would have to end.”
The work done so far by the Government and civic bodies, however, remains a cause for concern. “The multi-level parking concept has failed in places like Sarojini Nagar, where the builder was allowed two floors of commercial space. The employees and visitors to these commercial spaces would eat up the parking and I fear due to the high rates of parking in future the entire space may become commercial,” he said.
While multi-level parking is seen as an expensive proposition, the idea to have these in parks has also been opposed by EPCA due to environmental concerns.
With few open spaces left, the surface level parking now comes at a premium, and Mr. Lal believes, like Singapore and Tokyo, Delhi can also explore the auction route.
On the ground level, the situation is more than alarming as various agencies have resorted to different plans for addressing the parking crisis. And most often the easiest option exercised is installation of a “No Parking” signage.
A case in point is Parliament Street right next to Parliament. Here the Traffic Police have barred parking on the side-walks between boundary walls of the buildings and the road, and the vehicles can be seen parked on the road itself outside Transport Bhawan and PTI Building.
No one knows the logic behind doing away with the parking where it was earlier as similar parking is allowed on the stretch of the road opposite the Parliament Street police station.
Nearby Rafi Marg tells a similar tale. Here the New Delhi Municipal Council decided to replace the area being used for parking with greens and consequently now vehicles are parked on the roads.
The illogical approach can also be seen in the difference between parking outside the Congress headquarters at Akbar Road and the BJP headquarters at Ashok Road. While outside the Congress office, vehicles are parked in an orderly manner between the road and the boundary wall as a clean tiled area has been created, there is chaos outside the BJP office as no such space has been provided.
“If parking on roads was wrong, then why a multi-lane parking in provided on the road between CBI office and SCOPE Tower at CGO Complex while the space over Sunehri Nullah can actually be used during daytime. This parking leaves just one lane for the vehicles,” said a regular.
A resident of Patparganj in East Delhi said the Government would do well to create gradient parking instead of high side-walks outside most housing societies. “The need of the hour is to provide parking areas. Merely wishing it away makes no sense. In a city where illegal colonies are getting regularised, the Master Plan is being tweaked to help regularise illegal structures and farm houses, would anyone be able to actually prevent people from purchasing vehicles or parking them,” he said.