THERE ARE at least 13,000 government officers and their employees who do not pay any fee for parking their vehicles throughout the day in paid parking lots across the city. Arya Toll Infra Limited, the company which has the contract of paid parking on 47 locations in Chandigarh, says they have exempted only 150 government vehicles of top brass from the parking fee. But a recent survey conducted by the company has revealed that at least 13,000 government officials and staff members do not pay parking fee for their official as well as private vehicles parked in these paid parking lots.
Of the 13,000 vehicles, 7,500 of them are those bearing Haryana and Punjab numbers in Sectors 17, 8 and 9, 3,000 from Medical Officer of Health (MOH) wing (including sanitation officials and safai karamcharis), Chhuttani Medical Centre (CMC) parking and remaining from Haryana tourism office, labour department, engineering wing and various other departments of Chandigarh Administration.
Sandeep Bhora, project coordinator of the company, now says that because of such a large-scale parking fee evasion, the project is turning out to be non-viable for them. “Also, MC is not addressing issues raised like recarpeting certain stretches that is pending for long. If the situation continues like this, we shall be forced to re-think our decision of managing the parking lots in Chandigarh,” Bhora told Chandigarh Newsline.
“Even if an SDO-level official comes in a private vehicle, he doesn’t pay the parking fee. Moreover, all in MOH department do not have government vehicles but when they come to the office daily, they refuse to pay for their private vehicles too. For about 10 months, the parking lots remained free and that is why the officials are not in the habit of paying,” Bhora said.
There are 5,000 such vehicles (four-wheelers and two-wheelers) only in Sector 17. On average, 11,000 slips are issued in Sector 17 on a daily basis, which are for traders, visitors to the market and a few government officials. On average, 45,000 slips are issued in the entire city.
Bhora claims that when they ask for fee, the officials make calls to MC and say that the attendants misbehaved with them. The company also calculated that on a daily basis, there is a revenue loss of around Rs 65,000.
“When our attendants ask for parking fee, the drivers of the vehicles ferrying government officials start abusing and then allege that our attendants misbehaved with them. There is no other option but to keep mum and allow them in. At present, we don’t have CCTV cameras installed at all our parking lots because of no connection. Once they are put up, we will start making complaints,” said the official.
After claiming that the civic body had been suffering revenue loss, they decided to hike the parking fee. At present, a four-wheeler is charged Rs 5 while a two-wheeler is charged Rs 2. From next month, charges will be doubled and a four-wheeler owner will have to pay Rs 10 while a two- wheeler owner will have to shell out Rs 5.
Mayor Asha Jaswal said that it was wrong if so many officials were not paying the parking fee. “At our own level, we have curbed this free parking service. Earlier, a mayor would get 100 passes for free parking which were distributed among kin; I have not taken even a single pass. For former mayors, we have allowed only two passes each. It is only Rs 5 or Rs 10 and it doesn’t matter much,” she said.
Complaints of misbehaviour
An internal survey conducted by Arya Toll Infra Limited, which has the contract of managing all 26 parking lots comprising 47 sites, found that there were 1,01,226 cases of wrongly parked vehicles at public parking lots in the city, under different categories only in one week. It had also found that 236 women parking attendants had complained of misbehaviour when they would ask for parking fee.