The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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At the Market, park down under
- Mayor digs deep for Parkomat alternative

If street-level is a problem, just dig deep for a solution. Mayor Subrata Mukherjee, thwarted in his earlier, determined bid to construct a Parkomat on Lindsay Street, has now decided on an underground parking lot on the same spot. And this, he promises, could pave the path for the dream pedestrian plaza in front of New Market.

“In our revised proposal, we are going for a more sophisticated and hi-tech underground parking zone. No matter how hard you people (read: media, love-Calcutta lobbies and sundry critics) try to stop us, we will stop at nothing this time,” said Mukherjee.

The Rs 15-crore automated parking lot for 250 cars will neither “deface Lindsay Street” nor block the “heritage facade of New Market”, as the Parkomat would have. “In European countries, similar underground parking bays can be found in front of heritage structures,” added the mayor. The superstructure of the underground parking lot will extend up to the crossing of Bertram Street on the west, the crossing of Tottee Lane (beside Globe) on the south and Free School Street on the east.

There will be three points (see box) for cars to exit or enter the parking lots through small glass cubicles at ground level. A car-owner can leave his vehicle at the doors of computer-operated elevators, from where it will be electronically guided to an empty slot.

Mukherjee said underground parking would not only curb the car chaos at New Market, but also allow the entire stretch to be converted into a pedestrian plaza. Once the parking lot is complete, no vehicles will be allowed to enter Lindsay Street, beyond the entry points to the underground plaza.

The mayor’s mega plan to beautify the stretch includes a row of trees, fountains, telephone kiosks — “all befitting a heritage structure like New Market”.

The project will be a joint venture with Simplex Projects, on a built-operate-and-transfer (BOT) basis. According to the agreement, Simplex Projects will run it for 20 years, before handing it over to the Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC). Till then, Simplex will share five per cent of the gross revenue from the project with the CMC.

G. Dasgupta, senior commercial manager, Simplex Projects, said: “We are confident of giving Calcutta its first automated underground parking lot… But since there is little scope for generating revenue through advertisements from the underground parking bay, we have urged the CMC to increase the term-loan amount.”

In the Rs 8.5-crore Rawdon Street Parkomat, the CMC had provided a soft loan of Rs 3 crore to Simplex, which is repayable over five years. Simplex had put in Rs 2.25 crore and another Rs 3.2 crore was loaned from the Bank of Baroda.

Officials of Simplex, “sole handler of the automated car-parking technology of Aarding, Holland”, said the Lindsay Street site of the parking lot would be inspected by a team from the Dutch firm. Dismissing fears of subsidence, they said: “The only problem we must guard against is waterlogging, for which the design of the ramp will have to be slightly modified.”

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