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Parking tied in knots

Roads. Check. Traffic. Check. Policing. Check. Parking… Parking? What’s that?

If there’s one thing that’s tied the city’s administration and residents with vehicles in knots for decades, it’s the dreaded P-word.

Call it administrative failure or lack of civic sense among motorists, haphazard parking is a common sight on most thoroughfares.

While the five lakh vehicles of Patna never fail to create mounting chaos on the roads, an equally frustrating havoc is wreaked on commuters when it comes to parking their two and four-wheelers.

Most of the market areas in the city don’t offer parking lots for visitors. Those frequenting the markets are therefore forced to park their vehicles on adjoining roads, leading to encroachment and further traffic congestion.

There is no organised parking system on any of the streets at present. In spite of an approval on the proposed pay-and-park scheme at 51 locations in the city in December last year, the civic authorities have not commenced the bidding process till date. The multi-level parking facility at Buddha Smriti Park, which is delayed by nearly four years now, also awaits formal inauguration. Patna traffic superintendent Rajiv Mishra has also acknowledged that lack of parking lots along the streets is a major hurdle in streamlining parking.

Patna municipal commissioner Kuldip Narayan admitted a slight delay in implementation of the pay-and- park system but vowed that the bidding process would be finalised in a month.

“The parking lots have been identified and the tenders would also have been floated by now. But recently the chief engineer retired and the additional municipal commissioner got transferred due to which the scheme got a bit delayed. However, we have now fixed the minimum reserve price of the parking lots and the bidding stage is expected to be finalised within a month,” said Narayan.

The pay-and-park system is proposed to be implemented at 51 locations on 17 roads across the city, which would ensure parking of over 1,600 vehicles with two-wheeler parking charges of Rs 10 for the first hour and Rs 5 per hour thereafter.

Apart from the pay-and-park system across the city, the area around the Patna Junction roundabout is also deprived of the much needed multi-level parking facility at Buddha Smriti Park due to administrative slackness. Though Buddha Smriti Park got inaugurated in May 2009 and its other components, including Buddha Museum and meditation halls, have also been opened to visitors, the four-storied facility is still getting finalised.

Sources in the Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation (BUIDCo), the agency looking after the shrine premises, said that Godrej & Boyce Mfg. Co. Ltd. has recently completed the semi-automated parking system, which has the capacity to accommodate 480 vehicles.

“The multi-level parking facility is almost ready and we just need to give a final layer of painting on the outer walls, which would be done within a day or two. The facility is ready for public use and we are just waiting for its formal inauguration,” said an official of BUIDCo.

The new parking system based on camera-based surveillance system is being installed with an estimated outlay of Rs 1.4 crore, whereas the total cost of the parking project, including the civil works, is Rs 15 crore. The parking rate on the other hand has been kept at Rs 30 per hour per four-wheeler.

Traffic police admitted that the focus on streamlining parking remains more on main market areas, including Exhibition Road and Fraser Road.

“We are also helpless in streamlining parking in the absence of any identified parking lots in the city. As of now, we focus mostly on Exhibition Road, Fraser Road and the neighbouring arterial roads for avoiding any snarls due to haphazardly parked vehicles. Moreover, we have taken several steps to streamline parking of auto-rickshaws at some key locations, including Kargil Chowk and Rajapur Pul among others,” said traffic SP Mishra.