Instances of vehicles stolen are causing concern
When M.G. Jacob, a resident of Seethapathy Nagar in Velachery, left his two-wheeler at the parking lot of the Perungudi MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) station on Saturday morning, the possibility of theft would have been last thing on his mind. However, when he came back from work in the evening, there was no trace of his vehicle.
Though Perungudi has a park-and-ride facility, the site has not had a parking management contractor since November 2010. Commuters who are not aware of it end up losing their vehicles. The Velachery police have registered five cases of vehicle thefts in the last two months.
However, the larger issue is the lax management of even the manned parking lots in railway stations across the city.
Mr.Jacob said that even when an agency was in place to run the Perungudi station, there were instances of petrol being stolen from vehicles, spare parts being removed and in certain cases, tyres of cycles being stolen. “More than 100 vehicles are parked at this station every day,” he added.
Chennai Divisional Railway Manager S. Anantharaman acknowledged that Perungudi station has not had a contractor for sometime.
He said that the paid parking lots attached to MRTS stations have found no takers. “Despite repeated tenders, no one has come forward. They do not find it viable as a business venture.”
According to him, in case of theft of a vehicle, liability does not arise even if the parking lot is run by a legitimate contractor.
“They operate under a parking contract, not a security contract. But according to one particular clause in the parking contract agreement, the contractors are liable to a certain extent.”
T.Sadagopan, vice-president of Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Centre, said that printing “not liable in case of loss or theft” on the back of a receipt given at a paid parking lot is a flagrant violation of the Consumer Protection Act. “Taking a cue from government departments, cinema theatres have started adopting this trend. They charge exorbitant rates for parking but do not give any assurance on safety of the vehicles.”
According to him, any parking contractor should estimate the maximum vehicle count that a lot can hold and avail an insurance to deal with cases of theft or damage of vehicles.
“There must also be adequate fire safety provisions on the premises. Otherwise, what is the meaning of a paid service? The Railways must take necessary steps to rein in the contractors,” Mr.Sadagopan said.