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Will GCC's new plan end parking woes?

Converting spaces previously occupied by abandoned vehicles across the city to parking areas, and a yet-to-be developed app to show motorists available parking slots are just temporary solutions by the Corporation, claim residents and activists

Will GCCs new plan end parking woes?

Though additional parking lots are very much needed in the city it would be a disadvantage for the hawkers, who would be shifted to other areas. (Photo credit: Hemanathan M) 

CHENNAI: One of the biggest problems in the city today is not just bad roads, open drains, and pollution. It’s parking or the lack thereof.

With the steady increase in vehicles on the road, parking has become a challenge. Even designated parking areas are either too few or too expensive. Both lead to haphazard parking of vehicles that dot the roads, alleyways, and streets leading to and from the arterial roads.

Now, the Greater Chennai Corporation has come up with a plan to change the situation.

Abandoned vehicles

Removal of abandoned vehicles from across the city has created many empty spaces, which the civic body plans to convert to designated parking spots.

As many as 1,308 abandoned vehicles were identified in the city – 271 vehicles in the north, 644 in central Chennai, and 393 in the southern parts. Of these, 51 were taken back by the owners after submitting relevant documents.

At least 154 unclaimed vehicles, and all the abandoned vehicles removed in September, will be given away through e-auction.

Additionally, the civic body will create an app with features that would enable denizens to locate available parking spaces in the area they’re currently stationed in.

Parking space at Beach Station (Photo credits: Hemanathan M)

Regulate parking policy

Though abandoned vehicles were removed, residents and social activists urged the corporation to regulate parking policy on the streets, especially in the commercial hubs.

Removing abandoned vehicles alone will not ease congestion on the roads, they say. “As long as the government allows people to park their vehicles free of cost on the roads, they will continue to park them wherever there’s space available. A zero-tolerance approach is needed to streamline parking within the city,” observed C Raghukumar, a civic activist. “Many barren lands owned by the government have been taken over by encroachers. Authorities can reclaim these lands and convert them into multi-level parking facilities.”

He also urged the administration to make it mandatory for homes and apartments to provide in-house parking facilities. “People buy multiple vehicles though they don’t own parking space in the area. This spills over to the footpaths, especially near restaurants and textile shops, where parked vehicles eat up pedestrians’ walking area,” he added.

People suggest that the Corporation consider charging Rs 5,000/month for on-street parking of cars in residential neighbourhoods in front of the houses. This will force residents to provide a parking lot within their homes.

“Authorities have removed abandoned vehicles on the road, which is a welcome move but turning it into a parking space is yet another kind of encroachment,” said T Narayanan, a motorist at George Town.

“Motorists have encroached on the road making it difficult for buses and pedestrians. With festival season in, it will be a terrible time for residents. Though parking charges have been revised, unless strict action is taken against the owners, the situation will not improve.”

Impact on street vendors

Though additional parking lots are very much needed in the city it would be a disadvantage for the hawkers, who would be shifted to other areas. This would adversely impact their livelihoods.

Recently, authorities conducted a meeting with the members of the town vending committee and mentioned that they were allowed to set up shops in the vending areas and vacate from non-vending areas.

P Karunanidhi, General Secretary of Chennai Street Vendors Association said, “The local body asked us to move to the areas selected under vending areas which are mostly in the interior places. The commercial hubs including Parrys, Pondy Bazaar, Mylapore Luz, and Washermenpet have not been listed either in vending or non-vending categories. The government would turn these places into parking lots and we’ll be forced to shift to interior areas in the city. The corporation should discuss with the vendors before making such decisions.”

In the vending area category, at least 50-60 places are allotted in all 15 zones, and 10-15 places for each zone in non-vending areas. The multi-level parking in T Nagar and Moore market is not being used effectively as only the ground and the first floor has been occupied by street vendors.

Most footpaths in Parry Corner are occupied by two-wheelers. (Photo credit: Hemanathan M)

Tech to help

N Mahesan, chief engineer (solid waste management and mechanical), GCC, said that at present 5,300 equivalent car space (ECS) was available for vehicles. However, more parking lots are needed in the city, revealed a recently conducted survey.

“The number of parking lots has increased, and the charges are likely to be revised. The estimation is being prepared by the consultancy,” added Mahesan. “The consultant will study the existing supply of ECS that can be operationalised in the Corporation area. After that, fresh tenders will be floated for on-street parking for the 3 regions separately. Additionally, the parking policy is being prepared by CUMTA for the whole Chennai Metropolitan area.”

The corporation has planned to create an app that would allow users to check for parking space in the areas and park accordingly. The Corporation official mentioned that the parking space will be increased in the commercial hubs too.

Swedha Radhakrishnan
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