Members of Chandigarh Youth Congress on Monday staged a six hour protest to express their reservations against the pick-and-drop lane paid parking system at the railway station, which has been a bone of contention between locals and the railway administration ever since its introduction in September this year.
Dozens of protesters on Monday assembled in front of the Chandigarh Railway Station and staged a dharna there to demand that authorities extend the free parking in the lane to 30 minutes at least, from the current six. The protesters raised slogans against railway officials and demanded that an amendment be brought in at the earliest to the parking rules.
The pick-and-drop lane system at Chandigarh Railway Station was introduced on September 23 this year with a provision of a Rs 1,000 penalty for vehicles found to be parked for more than 30 minutes. The move faced a massive backlash from locals and politicians, prompting the railway authorities to later withdraw the provision of the Rs 1,000 penalty.
On Monday, the protest was led by the president Chandigarh unit of Congress Harmohinder Singh Lucky, and president of Chandigarh Youth Congress Manoj Lubana, and their supporters. Lubana later said, “We will talk to the parking contractor and railway officials as well. We will urge them to extend the free timing for the vehicles in the parking lot. We have decided to hold a sit-in dharna here every day between noon and 6pm until the authorities look into our demands.”
On Monday, Rakesh Gupta, who had come to drop someone off at the railway station said, “People have been facing inconvenience since the first day. The pick-and-drop lane parking entrance is around 300 meters away from the railway station. Taxi drivers do not enter the parking because they fear that they will be fined if they do not exit within six minutes fearing that they will be fined heavily if they do not get out of the parking lane within 6 minutes, which is impossible during peak hours. Hence, taxi drivers drop their passengers far away from the railway station with their luggage”.
The free pick-and-drop facility applies for both non-commercial and commercial vehicles. After the free six-minute period, non-commercial vehicles are charged up to Rs 30 for 15 minutes and commercial vehicles are charged Rs 50 up to 15 minutes. The parking charges can go up to Rs 200 for both commercial and non-commercial vehicles parked in the lane for 15 to 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the vehicles can be towed.
Contacted, Vinay Mahindro, parking contractor, said, “The terms and conditions of the paid parking were decided prior to signing a contract between our firm and the railway authorities. We are not charging a fine from the drivers even if they stay in the lot for more than half an hour.”
Notably, a clash broke out between the auto drivers and paid parking employees earlier this month when the latter did not allow the entry of drivers in the parking lot.