Finding a parking spot is a nightmare in city

VMC can take a leaf out of GVMC’s book by waiving parking fees at commercial establishments

Parking spaces are becoming hard to come by in the city, which is witnessing a boom in the number of vehicles.

With public spaces being encroached upon in the city, including pavements, motorists are no longer finding enough places to park their cars, and as a result, are leaving their vehicles haphazardy parked on the roads leading to traffic snarls in commercial areas.

"When I stopped my car on MG Road near a shop, I was asked by a security guard to leave as the pavement was reserved for their customers. When I refused, the security person began pleading with me to move my car, saying that the management would be watching from the CCTV camera and he would have to face the heat if any outside vehicles were allowed to be parked there," said Y. Hemanth, a businessman.

Many establishments on M.G. Road occupy the footpaths outside and reserve the space for their customers with the help of barricades. Buildings with cellars use the space for purposes other than parking.

On the flip side, motorists tend not to use the cellar parking and leave vehicles at no-parking zones.

While there is little scope for increasing parking spaces, strict enforcement of no-parking zones and prevention of encroachments by the police and civic body respectively could reduce the severity of the problem.

Meanwhile, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation is planning to address the issue through a ‘corridor improvement’ project.

"We are conducting a feasibility study to set up multi-level parking lots. Larsen and Toubro (L&T) is currently planning a corridor improvement project under which three ideal locations for multi-level parking would be identified. Also, across the city, road network of about 60 km (including M.G. Road and Eluru Road) would be improved with parking and footpaths as major components. Currently, traffic is being studied, and in a month or two, tenders will be called," VMC Commissioner V. Prasanna Venkatesh said.

On the other hand, the burden of parking fees collected by commercial buildings like shopping malls came to the fore in the wake of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation introducing uniform rules for parking vehicles at establishments.

Consumer case

Officers of VMC and the Joint Collector too are supposed to implement the suggestions made by the Krishna District Consumer Forum-II at Vijayawada. The Forum asked the authorities to consider the High Court orders and ensure free parking at malls and in its judgment delivered in February 2019 while disposing of a case filed in October 2018 by M.V. Syam Sundar of Consumer Guidance Society. The main respondent in the case, PVR Limited, has moved the A.P. State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission in June 2019, and the case has been adjourned five times on the request of the appellant so far.

In the latest development, the case has been posted for hearing on September 8, 2020.

Due to a lack of legal provisions, VMC is yet able to follow the suggestions. "We don’t have specific provisions to act against malls collecting parking fee. We have recently inspected the malls, prepared a report and sent it to our standing counsel for a legal opinion. Once we get legal backing, we can act by imposing fine or make any move against the violators," said Mr. Venkatesh.

"At our level, we have pursued certain malls to give up on parking charges while offering to waive property tax collected on the parking area. LEPL, which is now offering parking for free, has given us written consent. Trendset Mall is also in talks and soon it will stop collecting parking fee. We are pursuing other malls to come forward. This is a permanent solution to the problem," Mr. Venkatesh added.

All the malls in the city do not collect the fee for the first few minutes. As per the rules, they are supposed to specify the duration during which vehicles can enter and leave without any fee but none of the malls do so.

While all the malls provide parking in cellars, VMC, which is supposed to lead by example, collects parking fee for vehicles parked on the roadside near its commercial complexes.

VMC has established parking lots on the roadsides at NTR Complex, Gandhi Park in One-Town, Lenin Centre and other areas where minimum ₹10 to ₹30 is collected per vehicle for the first three hours. It has leased out the roadside space to a private party which also sells space via an app.

Civic officials say that it is one of their sources of revenue and imposition of the fee is necessary to ensure parking space is available for most people.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 11:58:08 AM |

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