SRINAGAR: Illegal roadside parking has emerged as one of the major causes for traffic snarls in Srinagar. In Lal Chowk, for instance, people usually park their vehicles along the roadsides despite the presence of several parking lots established by the authorities.
At Polo View, several cars were parked in front of the gate of a parking lot auctioned by the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) to Abdul Rashid on a year-long lease. Rashid believes that the majority of people prefer to park their vehicles on the roadside because they do not want to pay parking charges. “I believe only civilised people park their vehicles inside parking lots because they understand the difference between right and wrong,” he said, adding that those who park their vehicles on the roads want parking spaces free of cost.
Rashid charges Rs 20 for every parked vehicle. The parking takes care of vehicles between 9:30 am and 6 pm. “Our rate is fixed at Rs 20, we do not charge on hourly basis,” he added. “People, especially shopkeepers from areas like Misuma and MA Road park their vehicles here,” he said.
According to Rashid, people who obtain parking lots on lease from the SDA run in losses. “During the 2016 uprising, I had to bear a loss of around Rs 2 lakh,” he claimed. “Already only a few turn up to park their vehicles here, but whenever there is a strike, I have to face losses worth Rs 2,000,” Rashid said. “One of my friends used to run a parking lot at Residency Road near State Bank of India but he did not re-apply for the tender because he suffered huge losses. Since then, it has been run by the SDA,” he said.
The scene outside the Divisional Sports Complex parking area was no different as dozens of cars and motorcycles were halted on the main road. Parking attendant Manzoor Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that if the traffic department tightened its rein on traffic violators, no one would dare to park on the roads. “It will solve traffic issues, and our financial condition will improve as well,” Ahmad said.
Ahmad further said that some people park their vehicles more than once but end up paying only once. “They provide silly excuses, saying they have been paying in the same manner for several years, and then we don’t feel comfortable challenging them. Sometimes they even argue with us and we don’t tell them anything because we have to face them regularly,” Ahmad added.
Mohmmad Shafi, a parking attendant at the State Bank of India parking near Residency Road, believes that more people would park in specified parking lots if ample space is provided to them.
The government has however taken other efforts to encourage the use of designated parking places. Aijaz Ahmad, an employee of Simplex Projects Limited, operates a multi-layer automatic car parking developed by Srinagar Development Authority near KMDA yard. According to him, his parking lot witnesses a huge rush. He said that out of 280 slots, 150 are occupied by shopkeepers.
“Shopkeepers have got themselves registered with the SDA and they have provided us with their lists. They pay Rs 1,000 per month and the rest of the people have to pay Rs 20 in the first hour and Rs 10 every subsequent hour if they exceed the time period,” Aijaz said. Private parking attendants also claimed that shopkeepers are provided a five percent discount on parking, as per their agreement with the SDA.