Leader scuttles car park ban

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  • Published 19.09.07
Cars parked on the Lindsay Street pedestrian plaza. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

The underground parking lot and the pedestrian plaza on Lindsay Street, unveiled five months ago to ease congestion, have been reduced to a farce — thanks to the intervention by a CPM leader on behalf of attendants manning parking lots near New Market.

When chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had thrown open the sophisticated parking facilities and pedestrian plaza, he had said people would be able to shop and walk in peace.

With four weeks to go for the Pujas, the New Market entrance zone is as chaotic as ever. The underground parking lot is barely half-full, while cars are parked in rows along Lindsay Street, Bertram Street and Fenwick Bazaar Street — all declared no-parking from September 1 by a Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) notification. Pedestrians struggle to find a foothold.

Ask any of the operators of the three so-called cooperatives why they are allowing cars to park on the streets adjoining New Market for a fee, and they declare: “Rabinda has talked to the CMC, so the notification will only come into effect after the Puja.”

And they are not just dropping a name. CPM strongman Rabin Deb told Metro: “Yes, I have spoken to mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay and told them not to impose restrictions on roadside parking in the New Market area till the Puja. As people prefer to park on the road (rather than underground), let them (the parking attendants) earn some money now.”

Municipal commissioner Bandyopadhyay refused to comment on the matter, but that the CMC is toeing the senior CPM leader’s line is evident, as the entire stretch around the multi-crore underground parking lot is overrun by cars and two-wheelers.

Mayoral council member Faiyaz Ahmed Khan, who oversees fee parking in the CMC, said: “We have convened a meeting of the fee-parking cooperatives operating in the New Market area and the local political leaders for a solution. We must fix a date after which the no-parking notification will come into effect.”

According to civic officials, while the parking plaza under Lindsay Street can accommodate 281 cars, the total capacity of roadside parking on Bertram Street, Fenwick Bazaar Street and Lindsay Street is 170. “At any given time, when the roads around New Market turn into chaotic parking lots, there are over 100 vacant slots down under,” pointed out a CMC official.