The simple act of trying to park your vehicle can get you killed in the National Capital. The slightest provocation over parking space makes the city’s residents fly into a dark fury. The phenomenon of ‘parking rage’ is a huge cause for concern for the city’s police department.
Over the last one year, at least one person has been killed every month because of parking-related disputes, say the police. And every day, the police receive close to 250 calls on their helpline number about disputes triggered by fights over parking space.
“Non-availability of parking space in residential areas and busy markets is the prime reason behind quarrels related to parking,” says Delhi Police spokesperson Madhur Verma. “The other major reason that leads to such tiffs is lack of tolerance and anger management issues.”
On Thursday, a 23-year-old man was murdered in north Delhi over a parking dispute. Last week, the bullet-ridden bodies of a cab driver and his friend were found on a road in outer Delhi’s Ranhola. The family of one of the victims alleged he was murdered to avenge a trivial quarrel over parking.
In April last year, a row over parking between two businessman brothers in Model Town resulted in the death of three members of the same family. The problem appears to be particularly acute in posh South Delhi neighbourhoods. One in three calls that the police get over parking rage come from this part of town.
HR manager Smriti Sinha, a resident of Panchsheel Park, is compelled to call the police control room every day. “My neighbour routinely parks his sedan in my parking space,” says Sinha.
“Now even the cops attending the PCR call recognise me. So, I’ve been advised to directly call the local police on the issue, but to no avail. It has become an everyday ritual for me to shout for 30 minutes before I can park my own car outside my home,” she said.
In July last year, an argument over parking space resulted in a restaurant being vandalised in Kalkaji. Reports said that that the owners of the eatery were attacked by the delivery boys after they had an argument over parking with the owners.
“The problem in Delhi, and elsewhere, is that there is no enforcement of parking. People think they own the spaces outside their houses and park the vehicles there in absence of any legislation,” says road safety expert Rohit Baluja, founder of the Institute of Road Traffic Education.
Police officials say the tendency to fight over petty issues is on the rise. “It is very difficult to control such fights unless people themselves understand there could be other ways to resolve them. People believe the public spaces where they have been parking are meant exclusively for them. They don’t hesitate to fight if anybody else parks their car in that space,” said a Joint CP rank police official who did not want to be named.
The issue often features in Resident Welfare Association (RWA) meetings. According to experts, the growing number of vehicles in Delhi – which has crossed the one crore mark – is worsening the problem, especially in the capital’s residential areas.
As many as 7.5 lakh new vehicles get registered in the national capital every day. Delhi government data reveals there are 36 lakh households in the capital which means every household has three cars, on an average.
Another reason that is contributing to the parking mess is easy availability of car loans. Owning a car has become so easy these days due to the easy installment plans being offered by the banks. “Almost each house in my neighbourhood has more than two cars,” says Sanjeev Ojha, member of the resident welfare association, in Greater Kailash I.
“But when it comes to parking, there is a big problem. Also owing to shops opened by the residents in their houses, there is no space for the residents to move about freely. This problem needs to be checked at the earliest.” LN Rao, former additional commissioner in Delhi Police, believes Delhiites have become intolerant and the anger among the people is increasing.
“First of all, they need to either do meditation or yoga for inner peace. In the meantime, the government should introduce some strict parking policies to avert such issues. Also, NGOs could be involved to solve the issue,” he said.
Roadside parking spots have become a battlefield as the number of cars in Delhi has surged over the years. Experts, NGOs, and research organisations come up with a number of suggestions to combat the parking problem – but not many ideas have been implemented.
Experts cite the example of Singapore as perhaps the only country which has successfully controlled the number of cars on the road through heavy taxes and purchasing permits. But this is unlikely to work in Delhi.
The Arvind Kejriwal government’s first-of-its kind parking policy, expected to restrict free parking through imposition of heavy fines, has remained stuck for a year now due to a tussle between AAP government and the L-G.