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Friday, June 4, 2010

SSHHH! Don’t Utter The P Word



Even as the number of vehicles in city is assuming Himalayan proportions, the civic body is in no mood to discuss the parking problem in Pune. On the other hand, word spread that there has been changes in parking rules for the benefit of builders.

Devidas Deshpande
When the general body meeting of Pune Municipal Corporation was convened on April Friday 23, one of the most important issues, which are at the heart of the present infrastructure and future development of the city, parking rules, was to be discussed. It was on the official agenda released by the administration and some useful deliberation on the subject was expected to come. Instead, the talk veered to other subjects and the issue was conveniently postponed for discussions.

Now, the corporators will pour their heart out on the subject on May 5. One is not sure whether the issue will find echo even on that day. Then the General Body’s recommendations will go to administration after which a final order will see the light of the day. This is not going to happen soon. Red-tapism and political considerations will sure play their role. At the same time, more than 350 vechicles are added on the city on an average each day.

It seems that the PMC is not showing enough seriousness when it comes to the vexed parking problem. Perhaps the functionaries of the civic body, who are responsible for framing right rules in timely manner, are not aware how much time and energy this issue takes up of a daily life of an ordinary citizen of Pune.

Almost two years have passed since new parking norms were approved by the PMC’s general body. These norms were framed modified after taking the public’s suggestions and objections into considerations. A long time passed after the norms were approved to sent it to the City Improvement Committee (CIC). The committee recently gave its approval to norms but there were allegations that large scale changes were made in norms to facilitate the builder lobby. Now, another approval from the general body is required for a final approval and then to the state government.

The norms were expected to be stringent and fair to the citizens. After the changes, they seem to have been relaxed following suggestions from builders and architects. For example, the existing norms for residential areas with tenements of 150 sq mt is two cars and two scooters. New norms had recommended to provide space for three cars and three scooters. However, CIC members said the old norms should be retained as it is. It means providing parking space for two cars and two scooters since it is not possible to leave aside much extra space. For tenements in congested areas having a carpet area of 150 sq mt and above, the PMC had proposed a parking capacity for four scooters instead of the existing two. However, Credai and AESA suggested two scooters. This suggestion too was accepted by the civic body.

At the same time, the PMC kept its recommendations on parking space for government offices, mercantile shops, offices and malls, IT buildings, multiplexes and community halls intact.

The issue is still in balance as PMC’s General Body thought it wise to discuss other matters.
Box
The Numbers Say All
19,00,000 Number of Vehicles In Pune (upto Dec. 2009)
6,00,000 Number of Vehicles In Pimpri Chinchwad (upto Dec. 2009)
370 Average vehicles added on in a day on city roads.
14% Cars & Jeeps of all vehicles in Pune
74 Two wheelers of all vehicles in Pune

Box
The Charging Shock
Another issue pertained to that of charging parking fees in multiplexes and commercial establishments. Following the proposal from the traffic police and complaints by some corporators, the CIC last month instructed the administration to take action against multiplexes and malls who charge money for parking. But this order is not being followed.

The traffic police argued that all malls and multiplexes in the city should either stop charging fees for parking of vehicles or introduce a system where the money could be refunded to a customer after he/she makes purchases or buys a movie ticket. Some malls have already started redeeming parking fees on purchases. However, other malls and multiplexes charge about Rs 20 to Rs 40 for four-wheelers and Rs 10 to Rs 20 for two-wheelers. Since these rates are high, citizens prefer to park their vehicles on roadsides causing problem to traffic.

According to Kiran Bartakke, chairman of CIC, “PMC has provided the parking place to these malls and multiplexes free of cost. Even then, these establishments are charging fee for parking. This is illegal and hence, the Committee has approved the proposal to take action against these establishments.”
What Happened To This:
Even as the new parking rules are waiting to be discussed, the existing norms set by the PMC are hardly followed. For example, the eco-housing policy, mandated by the PMC, provides that:
Shade on at least 40% of non-roof impervious surfaces on the site, including parking lots, walkways, plazas etc should be provided.
A minimum of 50% of parking space underground or plan covered parking with a reflective roof (net impervious area of less than 50%) for a minimum of 50% of the parking area should be placed.
But these get neglected in the course of time. The officials and functionaries do not heed the nitty-gritty of the policy.

What Experts Said
The comprehensive mobility plan prepared by ……… Pune Municipal Corporation three years ago itself highlighted the seriousness of the problem. The report says, “Measures that discourage the use (not ownership) of personal motor vehicles during peak periods would have to go hand in hand with measures that encourage the use of public transport. The Central Government would, therefore, encourage the adoption of measures that restrain the use of motor vehicles, through market mechanisms such as higher fuel taxes, higher parking fees, reduced availability of parking space, longer time taken in traveling by personal vehicles vis-à-vis public transport, etc. The objective would be to encourage people to use public transport or non-motorized transport for daily trips to work or school and limit the use of personal motor vehicles to periodic family outings and recreation or leisure trips”

The same report says, “Multiplexes and shopping complexes have free FSI for providing parking places; there is substantial expenditure for construction. As free parking anywhere (including in industrial premises for their own employees) is against the principles of good traffic management and should be discouraged, PMC should take a major percentage of the parking charges in shopping malls and multiplexes leaving a small portion for maintenance of the parking places for the owners while compensating the owners for the amount spent on the construction of the parking spaces. Hence, parking charges should have a built-in system for recovering the construction and maintenance charges over a given time frame and ensuring that the parking charges both inside and outside have a proper correlation.”

What Happened To This:
Even as the new parking rules are waiting to be discussed, the existing norms set by the PMC are hardly followed. For example, the eco-housing policy, mandated by the PMC, provides that:
Shade on at least 40% of non-roof impervious surfaces on the site, including parking lots, walkways, plazas etc should be provided.
A minimum of 50% of parking space underground or plan covered parking with a reflective roof (net impervious area of less than 50%) for a minimum of 50% of the parking area should be placed.
But these get neglected in the course of time. The officials and functionaries do not heed the nitty-gritty of the policy.

What Experts Said
The comprehensive mobility plan prepared by ……… Pune Municipal Corporation three years ago itself highlighted the seriousness of the problem. The report says, “Measures that discourage the use (not ownership) of personal motor vehicles during peak periods would have to go hand in hand with measures that encourage the use of public transport. The Central Government would, therefore, encourage the adoption of measures that restrain the use of motor vehicles, through market mechanisms such as higher fuel taxes, higher parking fees, reduced availability of parking space, longer time taken in traveling by personal vehicles vis-à-vis public transport, etc. The objective would be to encourage people to use public transport or non-motorized transport for daily trips to work or school and limit the use of personal motor vehicles to periodic family outings and recreation or leisure trips”

The same report says, “Multiplexes and shopping complexes have free FSI for providing parking places; there is substantial expenditure for construction. As free parking anywhere (including in industrial premises for their own employees) is against the principles of good traffic management and should be discouraged, PMC should take a major percentage of the parking charges in shopping malls and multiplexes leaving a small portion for maintenance of the parking places for the owners while compensating the owners for the amount spent on the construction of the parking spaces. Hence, parking charges should have a built-in system for recovering the construction and maintenance charges over a given time frame and ensuring that the parking charges both inside and outside have a proper correlation.”

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