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Parking needs space research
The State capital, with highest vehicle population in the country, lacks a policy on the crucial issue thus denying it the Central funds to put up necessary infrastructure for parking. Mysore shows the way by putting in place a policy.
Two-wheelers parked choc-a-bloc on a City road. DH PhotosFor a City that is bursting at its seams with a whopping 42 lakh vehicles -- 12 lakh of which were added in the last three years alone--you would think a well-planned parking policy would be in place to streamline the maddening rush. But that is not the case, and what you have is an absolute lack of order on the roads, with the commuters and traffic police alike struggling to find space for regulated parking. It has been a free for all, with unauthorised parking agents ruling the roost.
Each year, an estimated three lakh vehicles are added to the City’s traffic. While the traffic police are opting for one ways and widening of roads at the cost of trees, the problem of addressing parking has taken the backseat.
Take the case of Jayanagar. Hotels that have mushroomed in and around the area have added to the parking woes. Once known for wide roads with enough space for parking, Jayanagar is gradually slipping into chaos. Banashankari Junction is another example where shopkeepers and their customers park their vehicles on the road, adding to the congestion.
Half of the road in Yaarab Nagar is occupied by the motor mechanics choking traffic flow. Lack of a parking mechanism has led to a pellmell in Gandhi Bazaar. The case of Chickpet market is the worst among all. Vehicles parked on both sides of the road constricts the already congested streets. Traders at Chickpet are also not happy. A local trader, Gyanchand Jain said the scene would have been different if the parking arrangement at the KR Market was improved. And these are just examples.
It may be hard to believe that Bangalore, which was never meant to be a metropolitan City, today has the highest vehicular population in the country, and lacks a parking policy. Unlike other cities of its size, anyone can park anywhere in Bangalore, and get away without paying any fee.
The JnNURM solution
Lately, the State government woke up to find out a solution. Under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM), the Centre allots funds for the cities to build infrastructure for parking space. The assistance comes with several riders. The Centre wants the State to have a strong and working parking policy, that mandates a price for parking vehicles at public places. To avail the Central Fund, the Directorate of Urban Land Transport (DULT) of the State government has come out with a parking policy for Bangalore too.
Some of the contents of the parking policy is congestion tax, involving private players to build multi-layer car parking complex, regulation of on-street and off-street parking, hiring empty sites on rent for parking, developing autorickshaw stands, constructing truck terminals and zoning system for collecting parking fee.
“The guidelines for collecting fee can be prepared if the BBMP Council passes the parking policy. There are suggestions for certain corrections in the policy, which we are working on,” says a BBMP Engineer Basavaraj Kabade.
What is more interesting is that there used to be some mechanism to collect a parking fee before 2006, but suddenly the system was abolished. Now the Palike says it is working on it.
Manohar H N, a commuter, said parking in thickly populated places and Central Business Districts like Chickpet and Avenue Road is a big challenge.
“Because I know places where I can park vehicles in busy areas, I do not face too much problem. But I have seen people facing tough time to park vehicles. There must be some arrangement like multi-layer vehicle parking in densely populated and commercial areas,” says Manohar. He was, however, not in favour of parking fee in the City.
A senior BBMP officer, requesting anonymity, said the Palike can demand money for the multi-layered car parking (MLCP) from the Centre only if there is a parking policy. Under JnNURM, the City can get 50 per cent of funds from the Centre, 15 per cent from the State and the rest by the civic body. In its policy, the Palike has proposed automated MLCPs at 23 locations and to utilise parking space at Gandhi Bazaar, Freedom Park and some other open spaces.
Even though the State capital is yet to implement a parking policy, Mysore has already adopted a parking policy and become eligible to draw Central funds.
Shailendra Singh, Special Officer, DULT, emphasises that a parking policy for Bangalore is a must to guide the off-street parking than on-street.
“There are many recommendations in our policy including zoning system to collect parking fee. Now it is up to the BBMP to decide when and how it would pass a resolution related to the parking of vehicles,” says Singh.
However, the policy seems to be caught in conflict of interests and its fate is hanging in balance.
While on the one hand, the City needs a parking policy to decongest many important roads, the ruling BJP in the BBMP as well as in the State is not keen on implementing the policy for one strong reason.
“Our policy is clear. We don’t want any parking fee. Parking in the City should be free of cost. We do not want to bring back a system we had fought against some years ago,” says, Deputy Mayor, S Harish.
He says the Palike has plans to end the parking woes, which includes parking space beneath the playgrounds.
However, Ashwin Mahesh, a member of ABIDe Task Force says the time is ripe to have a parking policy according to which people should not be allowed to park vehicles at public places without any fees. “Parking at public places should be used for private benefit. If it is allowed then there should a mandatory price for it,” he adds.
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