Anti-parking crackdown drives residents crazy

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Srinagar: Facing a massive crackdown on unauthorized roadside parking on the Jammu and Kashmir High Court orders, Srinagar residents have been left a helpless lot, knowing not where to park their vehicles in the city with little public parking space.
Selected under the Centre’s flagship Smart City scheme, Srinagar has public parking space for just one per cent of the vehicles registered here.
The state’s summer capital and its biggest city, Srinagar has over over 2.43 lakh of its residents owning private vehicles besides another 58,000 commercial vehicles registered here, but the Srinagar Municipal Corporation has provided the parking space only for 2460 vehicles, said officials.
The parking space crunch here has been further aggravated following shifting of the two major bus stands at Batamaloo and Lal Chowk to outskirts of the city on the high court orders.
Adjudicating a public interest litigation on transport and traffic problems in the state, the high court has ordered the traffic police to curb unauthorised roadside parking to ensure a smooth traffic.
The traffic cops, accordingly, have launched a massive drive against all kinds of violations of traffic rules across the state.
In the first three months of 2018, the city traffic cops booked 30,444 drivers for various violations. This includes 1,622 vehicles seized for unauthorized parking.
The revenue garnered from the fines for traffic rule breaches in the last three month has seen a whopping rise to Rs 58 lakh and it excludes the fines by courts on the vehicles seized in March, the officials said.
“We understand that there is severe shortage of parking space as there are only 2,460 slots in the city for nearly three lakh vehicles. We, however, are just doing our duty as it’s the Srinagar Municipal Corporation’s job to look into the parking problems,” a senior traffic police officer said.
He said at least 20,000 more parking slots are needed here for a smooth traffic.
Srinagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Riyaz Ahmad Wani did not respond to repeated calls for having his comments on the issue.
The cops’ drive amid the scant parking space, has left vehicle owners in general and businessmen in particular a haggard and hapless lot.
“My car was one of the many seized by the traffic police from a designated parking slot in Karan Nagar area a few days ago. When I confronted the cops, they just told me that any parking place with no parking attendant is a no-parking zone,” Arshad Dar, a city resident, told PTI.
He said though his car was seized for illegal parking, the cops booked him for dangerous driving and driving without a valid license before releasing the vehicle.
“How can a vehicle parked inside the white line endanger lives of people? And no one asked me for the driving license which I always carry with me,” Dar said.
Mohammad Yasin, a shopkeeper at upmarket Residency Road, claimed that the traffic cops’ overdrive has resulted in 50 per cent drop in the customer footfall in the market.
“Car owners are scared to come to Lal Chowk, Residency Road and other popular markets for the fear of getting their cars towed away. This has resulted in drop of 50 per cent business,” Yasin said.
He said before strictly implementing the traffic rules, the government must have ensure ample parking slots in the city centre or nearby areas.

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