The introduction of a new parking system for the pick-and-drop lane — under which people will be allowed free access for only six minutes, following which, they will be charged — has brought chaos and mismanagement in its wake, a spot check by The Indian Express on Monday showed.
The Indian Express on Monday decided to test out the system, which was introduced on September 23, only to find this correspondent being issued a commercial parking receipt for a non-commercial vehicle.
The entrance to Chandigarh station has three narrow congested lanes, navigating through which in a vehicle during peak hours will take more than six minutes — the time set by the administration to pick and drop people at the station free of cost. Anything after is chargeable.
On Monday, this correspondent drove his car (a Maruti Suzuki Alto) bearing a non-commercial registration number plate and entered the pick and drop lane around 11.45 pm. The man at the entrance issued a slip. The lane was choked as a lot of people had lined up to drop and pick their relatives coming out of the railway station.
As this correspondent reached the exit point of the lane after covering a distance of almost 250 meters at 11.47pm, one of the parking attendants carrying an e-receipt machine appeared, took the receipt and announced a charge of Rs 30. Surprised and on being asked why as the first six minutes were free, the attendant double checks the receipts and hands the receipt over, ‘waiving the fee’. A second look by this correspondent at the receipt next shows that his vehicle had been tagged as commercial and hence the charge. When the same was brought to the attendant’s notice, he quickly consults with a second attendant nearby, before proceeding to blame the faux pas on the man at the entrance issuing slips.
On Monday, The Indian Express found at least three other people during its short visit to the station who had gone through a similar experience.
In all three cases, however, the attendants surprisingly chose to take the receipts back on being made to realise their error.
Sudhir Kashyap, a man who had come to pick his relatives from Chandigarh on Saturday, said, “The visitors are being cheated in a way. The lanes are narrow. Hence, it is possible to cover the distance of around 250 meters in a vehicle during peak hours. In fact, one of the lanes was opened especially to take care of this congestion.
Like Kashyap, another resident, Vishal Rana, who had come to drop a rail parcel at the station, was caught off guard and slapped with a fine of Rs 1,000 on Monday morning for parking his vehicle for more than half an hour. He said, “No one told me about the new charges and the new rule of six minutes being free. No sign boards mentioning the new fare system have been put up at or near the station.”
A third resident, Sanjiv Tewari of Panchkula, said, “Pick and drop timing should be for at least 10 minutes and the lanes need to be widened if this system is to work.”
The tokens or entry receipts for the pick and drop lanes were handed out at a kiosk set up at the entrance of the lane and collected at the boom barrier near the exit. The free pick-and-drop facility applies for non-commercial vehicles only. After the free six-minute period, people will be charged Rs 50 up to 15 minutes, while the ticket cost will go up to Rs 200 for keeping the vehicle parked in the lane for between 15-30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the vehicle will be towed away and a Rs 1,000 fine will be slapped.
For commercial vehicles, pick-and-drop facilities will cost ?30 for the first six minutes.
Station Superintendent SP Singh says
The issue of issuance of wrong receipts to non-commercial vehicles came to my knowledge today. I have warned the parking attendants and threatened them with disciplinary action. I told the parking management people to upgrade the infrastructure. They were told to make the lane system smooth. The three lanes should be divided — one for commercial vehicles, second for non-commercial vehicle, and the third lane will be for the general parking in which Rs 20 is charged for two-hours. Signboards will be installed for informing the general public.
Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala, GM Singh says
Pick and drop lane system was introduced for discouraging the fleecing of passengers by private taxi operators.
If non-commercial vehicles are being issued receipts as commercial vehicles then it is a serious issue. We will look into the issue.