Chai pe Charcha on Car Parking Issues in India

Ever since congress wallah [some people call ‘wallah’ as minister J] Mani Shankar Aiyar took jibe on now Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi about his Chai wallah background, the ‘Chai pe Charcha’ has almost attained a godly status. During the election campaign, Mr. Modi used ‘Chai pe Charcha’ as one of the most effective tool to reach out to people of India. So, how can we, mere mortals, lag behind in this race to have our own ‘Chai pe Charcha’?

Last Saturday, our team members were having a ‘Chai pe Charcha’ on the most heated topic or shall we say most trending topic in Urban India. Actually the ‘chai pe charcha’ started with one member asking “what are the 2 most pressing issues facing cities in India??” Some of them gave serious answers and some who were in Saturday mood…came out with 2 ‘P’s…yes 2 ‘P’s….One is Parking and one is Paani (water).

So, after using the power of elimination (PoE), we centered our ‘Chai pe Charcha’ on the most pressing issue facing Indian cities…and that is ‘Parking’.

India, I mean, about 40% of it (is it the right number for Urban India??)….is constantly fighting every day with neighbors, family members, traffic cops, Municipalities, Housing society head, builder, security guard, Local Chai wallah, street vendor (another wallah…thele wallah…sabji wallah, etc.). But why? Did monsoon not arrive on time? Was electricity available for only 6 hours in a day? Water issues? Garbage on the road? Or what? Well, the answer to this BIG question is “Parking”…yes sir, Parking with Capital P.

If parking issues were not frightening enough in commercial centers…then…face the new situation in residential centers now. On a visit to a residential colony in one of the metro city, one can notice a tree line of cars in front of the houses. If you are a visitor and visiting one of the residents in the colony, you will find it hard to park your car. And if you do find some space…you will find a “No Parking” board with a tag line “parking is not allowed, Tyres will be”.

Well…situation is under control until one abides by these ‘No Parking’ boards…however, just try flouting this rule and a heated altercation is bound to follow.

And if the resident is gracious enough to not use “No Parking” board in front of his house….then the people in and around the locality start misusing the open space. The open space will be used by the neighbor to park his 16 year old son’s new car…..or by Tina Aunty’s maid (yea…she comes in a retrofitted 800).

People in group housing societies with large number of families living together often struggle for car parking space. At most they are provided with 2 car parking spaces when they book a flat. And in most cases, the car parking space is sold by the builder. Open car parking costs less than the covered car parking.

There’s been huge debate going on in the realty market in India about the legality of paid car parking space…is it legal or illegal??

In 2010, India's Supreme Court ruled that developers cannot sell parking spaces as independent real-estate units. The court ruled that parking areas are 'common areas and facilities'. This upholds an earlier Bombay High Court ruling.

So, why are builders still charging for car parking spaces? There are some benefits of charging for car parking spaces and there are some negatives of charging for car parking spaces…

Benefits of selling car parking spaces with a pinch of salt

  1. With the number of cars in Indian cities growing with each passing day, paying for parking space ought to become the general norm. This is also the only way to prod people towards public transport. Counter-Point: But, where is the public transport? We do not even have high quality buses? Then...How the hell…will I travel in this 45 degree heat from my home to office??
  2. Builders of new housing societies receive little or no help from municipal authorities. In fact, many of these residential complexes are self-sustained units with independent provisions for water, power and parking spaces. In such a scenario, it is only fair that developers are allowed to sell designated parking spots. Counter-Point: That’s all been the making of builder-babu nexus. Why should we residents pay extra for the car parking spaces when the space has already been covered in the sale-able area?

Negatives of selling car parking spaces:

  1. Open areas are already included in the sale-able area. Therefore, if one were to pay for car parking space, then, he/she is paying twice for the same space.
  2. Allowing builders to price parking slots separately is also bad economics especially at a time when demand for parking slots either doubles or even trebles in a very short span. This is because the developer, who has a natural monopoly over supply of parking slots, has absolutely no incentive to maximize supply. The developer too will hold down supply of parking slots so that he can charge maximum prices for each parking slot.
  3. Housing societies belong to the people who have bought the flats. The management of the housing society can come up with innovative ideas for parking space. Selling car parking spaces discourage management to manage their own affairs and instead one is dependent on the builder.

But, will Parking issues be ever resolved in India? The poor government has been doing what it can do…it raised the price of fuel to discourage car ownership…but no success…they are thinking of building high quality public transport system…but that will take time mate…so...What else? What can be done to resolve technical and non-technical issues of PARKING??

Comments are welcome, the ‘Chai pe Charcha’ must carry on J


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