Srinagar: A dearth of parking space along with a rise in car thefts in the old city has prompted Abdul Gaffar to convert his piece of land into a parking lot. Gaffar, a farmer from Safa Kadal’s Dana Mazar area, has been running the parking lot next to his house since last year, and says the idea came to him after hearing about many cases of car thefts.
“It’s unsafe to park a vehicle on the roadside during the night here. So, I filled my piece of land with earth and put up a makeshift fence and gate to turn it into parking lot. A portion of the land is yet to be developed. For that, I don’t have money,” he says.
He says there was a rush of people who came to him to book space for their vehicles. He charges Rs 500 a month for a vehicle and currently around 40 vehicles are registered at the parking lot. Every person has been handed a key and can access the parking area at any time.
But Gaffar still says he cannot be held responsible for any damage to a vehicle because the monthly amount is too little to maintain complete vigil here. He also has plans to develop a multi-storied parking area on the piece of land but a lack of financial help hinders him. “I can earn handsome money and generate employment from the parking lot. But I don’t have money to develop this parking space on modern lines,” he adds.
Many people who use the parking space said incidents of theft were mainly responsible for making them turn to the space. “Thieves don’t run away with vehicles, rather they steal tyres, accessories or batteries,” says Khurshid Ahmad, one such user.
In fact, a lack of parking space has led many people in the old city to sell their properties and relocate. A day before the assembly elections last year, for example, Mudasir Ahmad had parked his Santro car on the Nallahmar road for the night, only to find two tyres missing in the morning. “That incident forced me to sell off my ancestral house here and shift to Lal Bazaar,” he says.
But the SP Police north city, Shafqat Bhat, denied that such thefts had taken place in his jurisdiction. “Nobody reports such thefts to concerned police stations. We have no reports of thefts,” he claimed.