DELHI READY TO KILL FOR A PARK­ING SLOT

1 killed ev­ery month in the last one year over park­ing dis­putes Cops get 250 com­plaint calls a day, mostly from South Delhi

Mail Today - - FRONT PAGE - By Chayyanika Nigam in New Delhi

THE sim­ple act of try­ing to park your ve­hi­cle can get you killed in the Na­tional Cap­i­tal. The slight­est provo­ca­tion over park­ing space makes the city’s res­i­dents fly into a dark fury.

The phe­nom­e­non of ‘park­ing rage’ is a huge cause for con­cern for the city’s po­lice depart­ment. Over the last one year, at least one per­son has been killed ev­ery month be­cause of park­ingre­lated dis­putes, say the po­lice. And ev­ery day, the po­lice re­ceive close to 250 calls on their helpline num­ber about dis­putes trig­gered by fights over park­ing space.

“Non-avail­abil­ity of park­ing space in res­i­den­tial ar­eas and busy mar­kets is the prime rea­son be­hind quar­rels re­lated to park­ing,” says Delhi Po­lice spokesper­son Mad­hur Verma. “The other ma­jor rea­son that leads to such tiffs is lack of tol­er­ance and anger man­age­ment is­sues.”

On Thurs­day, a 23-year-old man was mur­dered in north Delhi over a park­ing dis­pute. Last week, the bul­let-rid­den bod­ies of a cab driver and

his friend were found on a road in outer Delhi’s Ran­hola. The fam­ily of one of the vic­tims al­leged he was mur­dered to avenge a triv­ial quar­rel over park­ing. In April last year, a row over park­ing be­tween two busi­ness­man broth­ers in Model Town re­sulted in the death of three mem­bers of the same fam­ily.

The prob­lem ap­pears to be par­tic­u­larly acute in posh South Delhi neigh­bour­hoods. One in three calls that the po­lice get over park­ing rage come from this part of town. HR man­ager Sm­riti Sinha, a res­i­dent of Panchsheel Park, is com­pelled to call the po­lice con­trol room ev­ery day. “My neigh­bour rou­tinely parks his sedan in my park­ing space,” says Sinha. “Now even the cops at­tend­ing the PCR call recog­nise me. So, I’ve been ad­vised to di­rectly call the lo­cal po­lice on the is­sue, but to no avail. It has be­come an ev­ery­day rit­ual for me to shout for 30 min­utes be­fore I can park my own car out­side my home,” she said.

In July last year, an ar­gu­ment over park­ing space re­sulted in a restau­rant be­ing van­dalised in Kalkaji. Re­ports said that that the own­ers of the eatery were at­tacked by the de­liv­ery boys af­ter they had an ar­gu­ment over park­ing with the own­ers.

“The prob­lem in Delhi, and else­where, is that there is no en­force­ment of park­ing. Peo­ple think they own the spa­ces out­side their houses and park the ve­hi­cles there in ab­sence of any leg­is­la­tion,” says road safety ex­pert Ro­hit Baluja, founder of the In­sti­tute of Road Traf­fic Ed­u­ca­tion.

Po­lice of­fi­cials say the ten­dency to fight over petty is­sues is on the rise. “It is very dif­fi­cult to con­trol such fights un­less peo­ple them­selves un­der­stand there could be other ways to re­solve them. Peo­ple be­lieve the pub­lic spa­ces where they have been park­ing are meant ex­clu­sively for them. They don’t hes­i­tate to fight if any­body else parks their car in that space,” said a Joint CP rank po­lice of­fi­cial who did not want to be named.

The is­sue of­ten fea­tures in Res­i­dent Wel­fare As­so­ci­a­tion (RWA) meet­ings. Ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, the grow­ing num­ber of ve­hi­cles in Delhi - which has crossed the one crore mark - is worsening the prob­lem, es­pe­cially in the cap­i­tal’s res­i­den­tial ar­eas. As many as 7.5 lakh new ve­hi­cles get reg­is­tered in the na­tional cap­i­tal ev­ery day. Delhi gov­ern­ment data re­veals there are 36 lakh house­holds in the cap­i­tal which means ev­ery house­hold has three cars, on an av­er­age.

An­other rea­son that is con­tribut­ing to the park­ing mess is easy avail­abil­ity of car loans. Own­ing a car has be­come so easy these days due to the easy in­stall­ment plans be­ing of­fered by the banks. “Al­most each house in my neigh­bour­hood has more than two cars,” says San­jeev Ojha, mem­ber of the res­i­dent wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion, in Greater Kailash I. “But when it comes to park­ing, there is a big prob­lem. Also ow­ing to shops opened by the res­i­dents in their houses, there is no space for the res­i­dents to move about freely. This prob­lem needs to be checked at the ear­li­est.”

LN Rao, for­mer ad­di­tional com­mis­sioner in Delhi Po­lice, be­lieves Del­hi­ites have be­come in­tol­er­ant and the anger among the peo­ple is in­creas­ing. “First of all, they need to ei­ther do med­i­ta­tion or yoga for in­ner peace. In the mean­time, the gov­ern­ment should in­tro­duce some strict park­ing poli­cies to avert such is­sues. Also, NGOs could be in­volved to solve the is­sue,” he said.

Road­side park­ing spots have be­come a bat­tle­field as the num­ber of cars in Delhi has surged over the years. Ex­perts, NGOs, and re­search or­gan­i­sa­tions come up with a num­ber of sug­ges­tions to com­bat the park­ing prob­lem – but not many ideas have been im­ple­mented.

Ex­perts cite the ex­am­ple of Sin­ga­pore as per­haps the only coun­try which has suc­cess­fully con­trolled the num­ber of cars on the road through heavy taxes and pur­chas­ing per­mits. But this is un­likely to work in Delhi. The Arvind Ke­jri­wal gov­ern­ment’s first-of-its kind park­ing pol­icy, ex­pected to re­strict free park­ing through imposition of heavy fines, has re­mained stuck for a year now due to a tus­sle be­tween AAP gov­ern­ment and the L-G.

‘‘ The prob­lem in New Delhi and else­where is that there is no en­force­ment of park­ing. Peo­ple think they own all the spa­ces. —RO­HIT BALUJA, ROAD SAFETY EX­PERT

The prob­lem of feuds over park­ing is par­tic­u­larly acute in posh South Delhi neigh­bour­hoods.

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