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Parking-fee rule flout rampant on Kolkata roads

POS machines not being used, cash transaction on

Subhajoy Roy, Gautam Bose | Published 24.04.23, 06:32 AM
A parking attendant collects the parking fee in cash on Park Street on Sunday

A parking attendant collects the parking fee in cash on Park Street on Sunday

Picture by Gautam Bose

A family was charged Rs 90 for parking their car on Park Street for a little over two hours on Sunday, much higher than the rate fixed by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC).

On Russel Street and opposite The Oberoi Grand, parking attendants were not using point-of-sale (POS) machines to receive parking fees, despite KMC officials saying repeatedly that use of such machines was mandatory in parking zones. The attendants were, instead, insisting on cash payments and were not issuing receipts.

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The violations, all witnessed by The Telegraph, were a proof that parking attendants are still fleecing car owners across the city, weeks after the civic body launched digital payments to curb overcharging.

A family was spotted paying a parking attendant on Park Street — near its intersection with Middleton Row — Rs 90 in cash.

A woman inside the car told this newspaper that the vehicle had been parked there for a little over two hours.

The parking rates, as fixed by the KMC, are Rs 10 an hour for cars and Rs 5 an hour for two-wheelers between 7am and 10pm.

So the family should have paid Rs 30 as parking fee. But the attendant forced them to pay thrice the amount.

This newspaper has earlier reported that parking attendants on a stretch of Park Street, between Flurys and The Park gate, were asking for Rs 50 an hour and insisting on cash payments.

Opposite The Oberoi Grand, the attendants were abiding by the KMC rate but were only accepting payments in cash and not handing over receipts. “Most car owners do not want to give their cards to us,” said an attendant when asked why they were not using POS machines.

On Russel Street, an attendant said they were not using POS machines because of poor network. There, too, the KMC rate was being followed.

The civic body has made it mandatory to pay and accept parking fees digitally — through POS machines — across Kolkata since April 1.

In January, the digital payment system was introduced in 61 parking bays as a pilot project.

Despite civic officials’ repeated assertions that digital payment of parking fees has been made mandatory, almost everywhere in the city parking attendants are forcing car owners or occupants to pay in cash, citing unavailability of POS machines or other reasons for not complying with the KMC order.

Civic officials had said while launching the digital payment system that fleecing of car owners through overcharging would stop if cash payments were stopped.

The POS machines must be used to register a car’s details when it is parked. The machine generates a slip that mentions the time when the car is parked. When the car leaves, the machine generates another slip mentioning the entry and exit time and the amount to be paid.

“Once the system is implemented, no one can be forced to pay more than the stipulated rate since the amount to be paid will be mentioned on the slip,” an official had said.

The POS machine can accept payments through debit or credit cards. There is option for UPI payment, too.

An official said anyone fleeced by parking attendants should lodge a complaint through the WhatsApp chatbot number of the KMC — 8335999111. “People who have been overcharged can just give the name of the place and how much they were charged,” the official said.

Last updated on 24.04.23, 06:32 AM
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