Where do I park my car?

September 13, 2013

Ananya Bhardwaj , Shikha Sharma , Pragya Kaushika

A thinly populated neighbourhood with just two cars. That was Rajendra Nagar in the good old days, reminisces septuagenarian D N Narang, who has been living in the locality since 1954. Elsewhere in the capital, few cars would be parked on the roads; there was no need to.Today, at last count the number of four-wheelers in Delhi had crossed the 23-lakh mark with little space to park them and not even a semblance of a parking policy in sight. In Narang’s colony, there are at least three scraps a week over parking spaces; the locality’s serene aura now relegated to the deep recesses of his memory.

He recalls a time when not many people had cars. “We used to have single-storey houses that were actually bigger compared to today’s standards. In the entire neighbourhood, there were only two cars. Now, the colony has 500 plots on which there are 1,400 flats, each with at least two cars. People with bigger flats have three cars. Every other day, we intervene in fights over parking spaces,” Narang said.



It’s the same story all over the city.

A few km away in Karol Bagh, enterprising residents have found a way to profit from the paucity of parking space in the city. Here, residents ‘rent’ out parking spots inside residential complexes to outsiders. “There’s a huge demand for parking spots in the area. Fights break out continuously over right of parking. In such a scenario, first we ensure that there is enough parking space for our own vehicles. And if there is space left to accommodate others’ cars, what’s the harm in letting it out?” asked Neeraj, a local resident who lives in one of the government flats in the area.

“Government residential complexes usually have a lot of space. So I let it out to people who need it, but to mostly those who live nearby or whom I know,” he added.

Neeraj claimed he does not charge money for letting others park their cars in his colony, but a lot of residents do. Like Manish Singh, another local resident, who even advertises the availability of parking space on a website. “Have a huge parking space in Karol Bagh area (near Khalsa College). Genuine people may contact after 6 pm on any day (sic),” reads one advertisement.



The deal is simple. For a sum between Rs 3,000 and Rs 5,000, one can book a parking spot outside flats for a month by getting in touch with local residents. Some even ask for a two-month advance. “Almost everyone in the locality does it and claim to know the people to whom they let out the parking spots. But the truth is, not everybody is a known customer. In this locality of nine-10 houses, you’ll find 40 cars parked in the evening,” he claimed.

In residential areas, particularly those next to commercial hubs, the parking problem — and with it traffic congestion — intensifies. “My family lives in a three-storeyed house and we have six cars. People who come to the South Extension market park their cars in front of residents’ houses and go shopping for hours. Consequently, fights are common here,” Sudhir Handa of South Extension Part-II said.



Similarly, Hauz Khas village, on a typical weekend, turns into a nightmare for visitors and residents with cars parked cheek by jowl.

“During weekends, it’s wise to come down to the village before 8 pm. After that, it’s impossible to park here. Then, you usually park a kilometre or two away and walk till the village, or park outside the residential apartments. But that’s hardly safe or convenient. So, we strike a deal of sorts with the local security guard of a nearby apartment. We pay him Rs 100-200. For that sum, he not only parks your car within the apartment complex but also keeps an eye on it,” Debjit Mitra, who visits the village frequently, said.

On the road leading up to the village, such attendants are easy to spot. While some may offer their services only when asked, others are upfront. Though the Hauz Khas Welfare Association is not aware of the practice, they do admit that indiscriminate parking outside their homes, especially on weekends, has turned into a nuisance.

“The situation has gone out of control. People visiting restaurants in the village park their vehicles right outside our homes. Some even drink and create mischief. The problem has become so acute during weekends that we are even thinking of filing a petition in court,” S L Jain, chairman, Hauz Khaz, K & P blocks, said.

Without a clear parking policy on the part of the government, the problem has reached alarming proportions in the city.



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