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Call to tackle parking mafia on Kolkata roads

Kolkatans will elect their new civic board on Sunday

Subhajoy Roy | Published 17.12.21, 09:14 AM
Representational image.

Representational image.

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  • Parking fee on Rabindra Sarani: Rs 10/hour
  • Actual parking fee on Rabindra Sarani: Rs 100/hour

Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has not increased the parking rates in Kolkata for a decade but that does not mean Kolkatans have not been paying higher parking fees.

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The extra money being paid goes to the parking mafia. 

“Almost everywhere in the city, parking attendants charge more than the official parking rate. The charges are higher in the central business district. In fact, Rs 20 an hour is the minimum unofficial rate for parking a car there,” said a resident of south Kolkata. 

A businessman from New Town had last week visited Chandni Chowk in central Kolkata. He parked his car along Ganesh Chandra Avenue. 

“The car was parked for one hour and 10 minutes. I should have paid Rs 20, according to the KMC rate. But I had to shell out Rs 50. The parking attendants wanted more but I declined and left,” said the man in his 70s. 

Kolkatans will elect their new civic board on Sunday.

Residents across the city want the new board to look into the car parking problems with the seriousness it deserves.

Cars remain parked in no-parking zones, narrowing the carriageway and slowing down vehicles.

In residential neighbourhoods, owners often park their cars outside a house and disappear for hours, not bothering to check whether the entry and exit of the house was blocked.

Shaikh Sohail, a resident of Kidderpore in southwest Kolkata, said illegal car parking was a matter of concern in his neighbourhood.

He wants the KMC to find a solution taking into account the many stakeholders and the various ways they are impacted.

Illegal parking may inconvenience residents and commuters and bring no extra money to the civic coffers, but it means big business for the parking mafia.

A KMC official said parking was allowed along only some portions of Colootola Street and Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road in central Kolkata. “In reality, cars are parked everywhere along these roads,” said the official.

According to the official, there is space to park about 10,000 cars in Kolkata, out of which 6,000 car spaces are in the central business district. There are over 55 car parking co-operatives that manage the parking bays and about 400 streets have fee parking zones.

The co-operatives have to pay a pre-determined annual licence fee to the KMC. The fee is not linked with the earnings of a co-operative, said the official.

Linking the fee with the earnings will be possible if the KMC knows how much the co-operatives earn.

A few years back, the KMC had introduced hand-held digital machines that recorded the time of arrival and departure of a vehicle at parking bays.

The device automatically calculated the fee to be paid and gave a printed bill. Such machines were supposed to be introduced across the city to crack down on the parking mafia.

In reality, the parking bays that introduced the machines have by now gone back to the old system of giving slips and the others have never introduced them.

This does not allow the KMC to keep track of the earnings or if someone is overcharged.

The unofficial parking rates keep soaring. “We received a complaint recently that Rs 100 an hour was being charged from car owners on Rabindra Sarani. We conducted an investigation and found that the allegation was true. We will lodge a police complaint against the parking co-operative,” said the KMC official.

Last updated on 17.12.21, 09:14 AM
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