The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More roads thrown open for car parks

Come April, motorists in Calcutta will have 72 more roads to park their vehicles on. This takes to 312 the number of thoroughfares open for parking.

Now, around 4,000 cars can be parked on 240 roads. The additional 72 roads will accommodate another 400 cars.

'We had submitted a list of 95 roads to the police, who struck off 23 after analysing the traffic flow pattern,' said municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay.

Not happy with the trimming, a section of civic officials complained that the additional space is still not enough to accommodate the rising number of cars.

According to an estimate of the traffic police, more than 1.5 lakh cars hit the road during peak hours on working days and around 50,000 need to be parked at a given time. Public and private parking spaces together have room for only 24,000 cars. 'Therefore, we urgently need space for 26,000 more cars,' an official said.

Also from April, parking zones in the city will come under three categories ' A, B, and C. The fees will be Rs 7, Rs 6 and Rs 5 an hour, respectively.

Motorists now pay Rs 3 for the first half-hour and Rs 5 for every subsequent hour.

'The classification is based on how congested a zone is during rush hours. The one most congested has been marked A,' said Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, mayoral council member looking after parking matters.

The civic authorities often receive complaints that local gangs extort money from motorists if they park their vehicles beyond the limits of a designated zone, which are not always identifiable.

Commissioner Bandyopadhyay has directed deputy municipal commissioner (advertising) Mohammad Sahidul Islam to erect metal posts on both ends of a parking lot.

'The posts will be maintained by the cooperative that collects parking fees in the particular zone,' Islam asserted.

The authorities have also ruled that from April, receipts for parking fees must bear the stamp of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). The cooperatives will print the receipts and get them stamped by the civic body.

'A publicity drive will be launched through billboards, asking motorists not to accept receipts if they are not stamped by the CMC. I think it will check unauthorised collection of parking fees,' said mayoral council member Khan.

Parking fees account for Rs 3.8 crore of the civic body's annual revenue. The additional space should fetch around Rs 4.5 crore a year.

Khan, however, pointed out that narrowing the carriageway for creating more parking space could not be an effective solution to the problem.

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