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5 Feb, 2009 11:57

Parking rage sweeps India

Economic growth in India has made owning a car or motorcycle possible for many city dwellers. But millions of new vehicles have created a new problem – where to park?

In India, owning a vehicle is as much a symbol of prosperity as it is an everyday necessity.

With city populations rocketing, people are finding it difficult to find legal parking places for their cars and motorcycles.

“Well in residential areas we have a major problem because most homes have more than two or three cars. What’s more, even relatives come and park there. So in spite of having allotted parking areas, in spite of that we can’t park our cars in our own area,” explains local resident Poonam Rala.

In the commercial districts things are no better. Visitors become frustrated finding parking and the experience leaves many on a short fuse.

“Look at me sweating. This is due to the problem of finding parking. There is no parking and this is Nehru Place. This is just too much,” another local resident, Kheramat Khan, says.

The situation is so bad that people park almost anywhere, including pavements and the middle of the road. But encroaching on another’s turf, even though no one may have a legal title to it, can lead to parking rage.

“Here people just park in front of other families’ homes so there are fights over this. Over these small issues people deflate tires and break glass,” Jatinder Sharma says. “These small things escalate into situations where people are ready to bash each other up”.

And sometimes it does escalate into physical violence.

“I had an argument over parking. It was not a residential area but a park where there is no restriction on parking. Some people objected and asked me why I was parking there. That led to a fight and they split my head. After that I reported it to the police but they did not take any action against them. Instead, got us to compromise,” road rage victim Amit Sharma recalls.

To overcome the shortage of parking places, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi seems to be working on a high tech solution of automated parking bunkers.

“The Automated, multi-storied car parking we are developing will have 15 to 16 floors of underground parking and in some cases may have above-ground also. Cars will be automatically parked and delivered,” says Deep Mathur from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

New parking lots and better public transport may resolve the problem in the future, but parking a car today without due diligence could get you more than just a fine. It could put you in physical danger.