Shortage of parking space, high parking tariffs, wrongparking and traffic congestion due to visitors in search for a parking placeare only a few examples of everyday parking problems. According to the UnionMinistry report, Jammu and Kashmir has the lowest road density at 164 (per 1000sq km), far less than the national average of 1480.
In Srinagar alone, there are more than 40 on-street parkingspaces, which are generally far from commercial hubs. These parkings have nomarked premise, the lessee can charge anyone anywhere. They will force you topay for parking on the side of a street when you don't need it, even if it isfor few minutes only.
One day I parked my vehicle on the side of a roadway at Foreshore road for a few minutes.On return, I found a parking bill under my viper and out of nowhere a personcomes and demands 20 bucks. He claims that the Srinagar Municipal Corporationhas given him an authority to charge parking tariff anywhere possible. The sidearea of the road made by taxpayers money allotted to them are those relativelyless busy areas where there is enough space. These areas are hardly marked, andtenants often extend their space more than three times and claim every side ofthe road nearby under their lease. The common man is being looted every singleday on road, and the authorities seem to be enjoying the same.
I think the main motive behind parking is the security ofthe vehicle, the bill must be handed before the driver leaves, whatsoever. Howcan a person stick the bill to viper and charge money? Motor Vehicle Departmentcharges 6000 INR in one-time token for motor cars up to 14HP as road tax.Srinagar Municipal Corporation puts dust bins on busy narrow roads, like one atNaik-Bagh Nowgam, but citizens who pay tax in advance are charged to park theirvehicles next to a passenger shed.
Another day in Gulmarg a guy came in front of my car andasked me to pay parking charges, I argued that I am not parking but going inthe meadow. As I had already paid toll and entry fees to the authoritiesconcerned, he maintained that this is parking for entire Gulmarg! Maybe entireGulmarg was on the lease! These peopleare cheats and fool people on a daily basis by handing them a so-calledreceipt. It is beyond my understanding why people pay gate pass on the name ofparking to these dishonest goons.
Mechanized car parking at Lal Chock charges 20 bucks for thefirst hour and 10 each for the following. Suppose an employee parks his vehiclefor 8 hours, he is supposed to pay 90 bucks, that is why we see thousands ofcars parked in a number of rows all over the city, resulting in everydaytraffic jumble.
In the past decade, the state has witnessed more than 160percent increase in vehicle population but a meager 20 percent increase in roaddensity. Where will the vehicles move from and where they will be parked? Likein other cities, the roads were supposed to be widened accordingly and parkingspaces were to be marked on the side.
I recently got an opportunity to be a part of Hangul Census2019 at Dachigam National Park. For those 4 days, I realized and felt thatanimals live a far better life than us. Srinagar is a small city but drivingfrom TRC to LD in peak hours in no less than a torture. Honking, air pollution,traffic mess, mismanagement, and stress can frustrate anyone.
At Sanat Nagar crossing we have a signal, which is overheadto the lane concerned. One needs to sit over the ceiling of his car to keep awatch on it. Forget about smart city,Srinagar is an absolute mess where we often see traffic police with sticks likeshepherds. Maybe some people they are supposed to deal with are worst thananimals.
I wonder how do cops in toeing van choose which car to takeaway among hundreds of wrongly parked vehicles in city hubs. As a matter offact, they can take a single vehicle per round only. Helpless at the menace,they too get stuck in jams and turn on their siren which is supposed to be usedonly in an emergency, adding to the noise pollution at an exponential level.Unprofessional use of sirens has resulted in a considerable number of accidentsespecially among new drivers or drivers that are easily frightened. They arealso a nuisance to people who live in and around cities as police vehicles withblaring sirens is a common sight.
Youngsters should come forward to take an opportunity out ofthis muddle. Due to rising unemployment cheap, easy and quality manpower isavailable in the state. An out of the box idea is need of the hour, vehiclesshould be collected in the morning at a requested location in the vicinity, andthen dropped back. The owner should be able to request for pickup, locate, andorder his vehicle back by a mobile application. This must be reliable andaffordable such that every single person gives his vehicle and this absolute chaosturns into bliss.
(The author is perusing Post Graduation in Advanced Construction Management at NationalInstitute of Construction Management and Research, Pune.)