Delhi, the City of Cars, fell eerily silent when the first lockdown was announced in March 2020. An analysis by the Delhi traffic police shows that from March to June 2020, the travel time to any place in Delhi was reduced by 40-60%, depending on the location. The roads were suddenly peaceful because of the lack of cars, which has led the authorities to think about off-street parking in Delhi to reduce the number of vehicles for good.
With the loosening of lockdown restrictions, Delhi is back with extreme congestion on roads. One of the biggest victims of heavy traffic is Karol Bagh, a popular marketing zone in Delhi that has been clogged with traffic and haphazard parking for years now. Traffic jams occur on a daily basis in the locality.
To combat this persisting problem, the parking fee in Karol Bagh was hiked to discourage the use of cars in May 2019. But with traffic conditions still almost the same, a few necessary steps are being taken by the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC).
These include the proposed construction of a multi-level off-street parking lot in Karol Bagh and three other similarly affected sites. They aim to almost entirely eliminate the traffic caused by unsystematically parked cars on the streets in this area.
The NDMC approved the proposal to construct four multi-level off-street parking lots on Ajmal Khan Road, Old Rajendra Nagar, Shastri Park, and Pusa Lane. Once the project is approved, the authorities will invite tenders.
According to the Standing Committee chairman Jogi Ram Jain, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation has already tried to rent out properties and even reduced the price to develop parking lots in the past, only to receive no response.
Hence, the concerned authorities made these properties freehold and the final reserve price was increased by 25%. The new parking lots are being made to satisfy the long-pending demand of traders regarding the decongestion of roads in Karol Bagh and its neighboring areas.
Smart technology to bolster the proposed parking lots
Local authorities aim to integrate a smart and systematic parking system into the newly proposed lots. Further, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation aims to develop a user-friendly and IT-enabled parking system that comes with a consumer-facing mobile application.
This project plans to design, develop, implement, operate and maintain the newly proposed parking lots under a single concessionaire. It involves the use of marking parking/non-parking areas, installing smart equipment with hand-held devices, boom barriers, RFID, etc. All four parking lots combined plan to accommodate a total of 2,380 cars.
The road ahead
After acquiring the approvals of the Delhi Urban Arts Commission, the Archeological Survey of India, and the Fire department, it is unlikely that there will be any objections to the height and size of the parking lot.
However, according to the amendments made by the DDA in the Delhi Master Plan 2021, only 60% Floor-to-Area (FAR) for commercial use is allowed for plots above 3,000 sq.m. Since all these lots have an area above 3,000 sq.m, they will have to abide by this restriction.
The Ajmal Khan Road parking lot has an area of 4,115 sq.m. With a reserve price of Rs. 175.6 crore, it is said to create parking for around 500 cars. As for the Shastri Park facility, the site area stands at 4,806 sq.m with a parking provision for577 vehicles. The Old Rajendra Nagar project can house 464 vehicles and has a site area of 3871.3 sq.m. And finally, for Pusa Lane, the parking capacity is 381 cars with a reserve price of Rs. 148 crores.
There is no doubt that off-street parking in Delhi is the need of the hour, but the construction and reinforcement of the rules and regulations may take some time to sink in and become the norm.