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The six-minute sword: Dropped at the entrance, even the elderly forced to walk with luggage

Passengers carry heavy loads towards railway station from main road as auto drivers, cab drivers refuse to enter parking lot

Raghu Mishra, an autorickshaw driver, said, "Parking contractor charged Rs 1,200 for issuing a monthly pass allowing us to enter the parking lot. Earlier, the monthly pass fee was Rs 600 when there was no pick and drop parking." (Express Photo)

Uma Devi, 59, has a knee problem in both her legs. She is advised to avoid walks. But on Wednesday she was made to cover a distance of around 150 metres from Daria main road to the Chandigarh railway station as an autorickshaw driver dropped them outside the station to avoid a hefty pick and drop lane parking fee of Rs 50. Uma Devi was not alone. There were many carrying their heavy loads marching towards the railway station from the main road as the auto drivers, cab drivers declined to enter the parking fearing the fee being charged from September 23 — days after the Ambala Railway Division was entered into a five-year contract with a Delhi-based private firm at the rate of Rs 21 lakh per month, including GST and other taxes. The firm will pay Rs 21 lakh to the Railways every month.

“I was shocked when the autorickshaw driver stopped the rickshaw outside the railway station. I asked him the reason. And he replied he does not want to pay Rs 50. I have no other option except to walk despite the fact that I was advised not to put strain on my knees,” Uma Devi, who came to the station to board the Amritsar- bound train, told The Indian Express.

Manoj Bisht, 71, a retired defence personnel, said, “I am physically fit at this age due to my military background.

But what about others, including senior citizens, women and children who come here with heavy loads? I will urge the railway authorities to do something for these people. The Railways can introduce cart service for the people who have difficulties in waking or come with heavy luggages.”

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The inconvenience did not end here. As cabs, autorickshaw drivers are reluctant to enter the pick-and-drop parking lane, the main road witnesses heavy jams whenever any train, especially Delhi-bound three Shatabdis and Vande Bharat depart from Chandigarh railway station.

Raghu Mishra, an autorickshaw driver, said, “Parking contractor charged Rs 1,200 for issuing a monthly pass allowing us to enter the parking lot. Earlier, the monthly pass fee was Rs 600 when there was no pick and drop parking. Passengers who hired an autorickshaw from nearby their houses, markets do not know which autorickshaw diver has a pass and which does not. They simply hired and came to the station and faced inconvenience.”

On November 28, Vinay Mohindroo, parking contractor, had said, “The terms and conditions of the paid parking were decided prior to signing a contract between our firm and Railways. We have already withdrawn the charging fine of Rs 1,000 for those who stay more than half an hour in the parking lane.”

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The free pick-and-drop facility applies for non-commercial and commercial vehicles. After the free six-minute period, the people in non-commercial vehicles will be charged up to Rs 30 for 15 minutes and commercial vehicles 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 to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the vehicle will be towed away.

‘People should pay parking fee if they want drop near entry gate’

Senior Division Commercial Manager, Hari Mohan, said, “Pick and drop lane parking was introduced at Chandigarh railway station on the pattern of New Delhi Railway Station on Ajmeri Gate side, where free timing for a non-commercial vehicle is eight minutes, merely two minutes more than Chandigarh time, which is six minutes. Similar charges were applicable there. The concept at Chandigarh station is successful. It breaks the monopoly of private cab drivers. People have a habit of making noise. People can pay the parking fee and enter the lane. We are thinking of introducing a cart service on a revenue basis for bringing people from the outer area to the entry point of the station.”

First published on: 01-12-2022 at 07:49 IST
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