IN A RESPITE to the residents of Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court Thursday ordered that people be allowed to park their cars on the spaces along residential houses as long as there is no specific hindrance to the traffic flow.
But, parking will be allowed only until the ongoing process of removal of encroachments is completed and parking policy is in place. The court, however, made it clear that action be continued against vehicles parked on pedestrian paths or cycle tracks.
The direction will only be applicable in the time period during which the administration has been asked to free the road reserves of any encroachment outside the residential, commercial and institutional buildings.
Justice Amol Rattan Singh, during the hearing of a case on parking spaces, pedestrian paths and cycle tracks, in the order said that the Chandigarh Administration, as a pilot project, will start the process of removal of such encroachments in Sector 19 within a maximum time period of one month. The judge himself lives in the sector.
The bench, however, noted that one-month time period is huge for one single sector and that could mean the drive will take 55 months for 55 sectors across Chandigarh. As a result, the authorities have been asked to remove the encroachments within much less time frame in other sectors. The case nodal officer, Municipal Commissioner, has been directed to submit a status report report on the progress made in Sector 19 by next date of hearing, December 20.
The modification regarding the parking on roadside outside the houses was made by the bench after advocate Alka Sarin’s intervention that pursuant to the court orders vehicles are being towed away or clamped down even from places where there is no designated parking spot other than the roadside or “dismantled” pedestrian path. She argued that in absence of any designated parking spaces, the people be informed about the options available to them.
The bench reiterated that almost everybody has encroached upon the space outside their houses and green spaces cannot be used as a reason to take away the space for parking, while asking the authorities to not let off anyone, including senior officers, who may have done so by use of metal fences outside their houses. The space between the houses and metaled roads is nobody’s property, the court said, adding even if the green parks outside the walls of the residential houses may look pleasing to eyes, still it restricts the space for parking.
The single bench on Thursday suggested the administration to include a rule in their upcoming policy that the parking space outside each house especially small houses needs to be designated. The court added that while the space may not belong to that house, that designated place will be occupied by that house only or the guests of that house.
Union Territory Senior Standing Counsel Sanjeev Sharma during the hearing sought time from the court for a survey on the encroachments across the city on roads extending to more than 300 km, while assuring it that they will continue with the action against the violators. He submitted that they are in the process of formulating a comprehensive parking policy for the city.
Amicus Curiae and Senior Advocate Reeta Kohli also suggested the court that those people who remove the encroachments on their own be not penalised. The bench said such steps from responsible citizens will be welcomed and also ordered such cost for damages be recovered only in such case where the administration has to step in to enforce the compulsory removal.
The court has also asked the administration to file a response on an application filed by Renu Puri, who is the Principal of Sector 38 Vivek High School, for development of the space earmarked for a parking lot adjacent to the building in accordance with the master plan.
The High Court on Thursday also issued a notice to Punjab and Haryana governments in the case and asked them to respond regarding the implementation of similar directions in Panchkula, Mohali and Zirakpur.
Repair of cycle tracks
While seeking a time frame for repair of cycle tracks and directing authorities to create access for movement of wheelchairs on pedestrian paths, the single bench ordered that prior to creating new one, the existing needs to be repaired to make them usable as many of them still have obstructions like electric poles. The obstructions shall be removed also by pruning of trees, according to the order.
All the cycle tracks are likely to be completed by June 2019, according to an official submission before the court.
Cycling on the main road till 06.30 am
The court on Thursday ordered that cyclists be allowed on the main road till 6.30 am instead of 7.30 in the morning.