Monday, June 11, 2012

Parking a Car!




If you have a little extra parking, I am on the side of getting rid of it in favor of having some more greenery...Michael King

Well considering the situation in city & our Indian sentiments for the car not many will be on the side of the international architect! As for us car is something of most valued possession. There is a good joke about the car that " If a man is opening door of a car for his wife then either the wife is new or the car!" Leave apart the joke part but it speaks about the sentimental possessive value we have for our car. Most of the men especially Indian men if asked what their dream of a good living is, will include a good looking wife, a nice home & then a car of his own, that's the dream! Earlier till 90's it was a status symbol to have a car of your own but come Maruti & even the common so called middle class person also was able to think of car of his own. In real terms its' entry of Maruti which changed the car scenario of our country. Till then to have a car was considered as only for milliner’s as they only has a space to park it was also a fact. And another most important but never considered aspect was then the distances weren't too much to travel & it’s more status base than need base to own a car.

After 90's the face of urban India started to change significantly fast pace & with entry of many multinational car makers in the market, having a car was no more just the status symbol for riches but it become a part of our daily necessity. The Towns became City's & City's changed to Metro's, making the distances to cover for our daily routines from few meters to many kilometers. There may be still many Punekars who had never crossed river Mutha for years as including schools to subji mandai to cinema halls to their work places all were in radius of 1/2 kilometers which was easily in reach on feet or at most with cycle! Also the homes were wadas as apartments were yet to become part of city's sky lines & bungalows were few. So there was no question of either need of car to move around or having a place to park it. Car was always an every body's favorite dream but yet people could do without having it!

As the cities started increasing in size so does the distances started getting increased & now if we consider the average citizen's required to travel in a city like Pune then it's nearly 20-30 km per day. This traveling includes going to office & then carrying children to school & going to shopping etc. Now the family size has been reduced to two plus two maximum so if on week end a family wants to go out going together by car has become the simplest & easiest way. This is outcome of failure of the city civic body to provide a proper system or infrastructure available for transportation within the city. I had been to cities like Singapore with my family & for 80% of the time I was comfortably using public transport over there which includes Metro as well Buses. Only for 20% of the time I have to use taxi. And all this without missing any of my timings to reach the destinations we were going. This I can’t even try in my own city & here is where our today's topic comes in lime light i.e. is parking! Here I recall my most favorite quote from the movie    Spider Man; “With great powers come along great responsibilities"! Similarly if car is power to an individual to reach at his destination as well to show of his status symbol then the parking of that car is the responsibility he has to carry along!

Here is where major crux comes in picture i.e. whose responsibility is to create a space for car parking? Recently there was a news which surprisingly went un-noticed by many; it was an order or directive issued by Hon. Home Minister of the State for taking actions about residential society's resident's car parking outside of their society on road! Well that means all the residents who owns a car have to park the car within their building premise which is logically correct but then why one has to buy a car is the question I will ask in first place! And what about number of Govt establishments whose visitors as well staff vehicles are parked all along out side of their premise! Even the PMPML i.e. our public transport system’s buses are parked all night & day along the roads blocking most part of the road, who is going to take action about them? Gone are the days where most buildings were with ground floor residence & no parking place was designed or required by the architects or even by building by-laws as with due respect to our planners short sightedness till early 90's car wasn't considered as part of the building & still 60% buildings don't have adequate car parks in the city as they were build in pre-car dependence era. The new by-laws demands to have car parking for even a single bed room flat i.e. 1 bhk & even 2 car parks for 3 bhk flat along with two wheeler parking  & the developers are building the projects accordingly! As a developer is in business & he will deliver what customer demands unfortunately with out thinking about the side effects of the demand. But have we thought at what cost the demand for parking is being fulfilled? With our need as well greed for status we are consuming most of the land around & below the complex for creating spaces for cars! Now we have multilevel car parking which in cases go two to three floors below the ground. In this process we damage the ground water flows & damage the biodiversity of many species like snakes to ants which were happily living below the earth’s surface for years! Many will laugh for such a silly thought but this is just one aspect of damage getting done because of creating more & more space for cars. Numbers of trees got cut to give away the space for drive ways to make the car reach in their parking lots at the same time lesser & lesser spaces are being made for the new trees in the same process is also a fact. We have laws for cars as well laws for trees but even a small kid can tell who wins the war at end!

Then there is a big debate going about a verdict of court that whether developer can sale the car parking? Issue isn't who can sale what, issue is every one needs place of his own to park a car is a fact & people are ready to pay ransom for their love towards their pride possession. In Mumbai the car parking costs goes over nearly Rs.10 lacs per parking at some places such is the demand for car park. Ask any person going for buying a home / flat & tell him that he wont be allotted a car park with the home & see his reaction & you will get your answer about selling of a car park! People can’t imagine a home without a car park of their own is a fact & it’s this factor which is more dangerous for the entire society than just having rights of selling the car park. Again it's not just car parks but two wheeler car parking is equally important as their numbers are also alarmingly high. Now a days in a average home there are two cars & three to two, two wheelers & cycles too for the school goers. How we are going to meet these demands is the real challenge & then we say homes are getting costlier! Because in the race of creating more car parking places we are increasing construction cost also by building more space for the parking. And at the end have we thought who is bearing cost of this construction? In the process our whole life style is being car or private vehicle oriented & the public/civic bodies conveniently dodge their responsibility by making stringent norms for car parking & thinks their job is done! It’s not the car parking but the need for the car requires to be taken care is what we are forgetting!

Only increasing parking norms for new developments is not going to solve the issue, it’s just passing the buck! If we are thinking just about the cars then this is bound to be the outcome. Think about entire planning of the city & why people needs to travel all across the city for smallest of the job? Decentralization is a word used too cheaply in our society. It has happened in private segment like most of the generation old outlets of shops have opened their branches in the suburbs but on many Govt fronts people have to run always to the head quarter of a Govt establishment is a fact. Even the zonal offices staff of public bodies or Govt offices has to do that leave apart the common man. Online documentation of many things like 7/12 extract of electric bills or even property tax like things if we make it possible in 100% then much of the traveling will be reduced. Banning parking in front of society roads isn't the solution but making services available to the people at their work places or resident is which in end will reduce the need of buying a car which at end will help in reducing need for the parking places. As when you allow a person to buy  a car by charging all the taxes then you only have to give him  a place to park the same car & not only at his residence but at all those places where he needs to go by the car may be out of helplessness! As no one like to park his car on road & neither likes to pay hefty charges for parking per hour as it’s a big pinch to the pocket in all ready tough survival with cost of fuel increasing each day!

Here not only the planning authority or the civic bodies but every citizen's role is equally important in curtailing the number of car parks. We have become so selfish that we have forgotten things like car pool or to plan our schedule a bit neatly & try to use public transport at least one day a week! But I can't blame common man totally as looking the way our rulers are dealing with the public transport issue, God save all the things especially as the quote says the greenery from parking is what I feel!
Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

Envo-Power Committee, Credai, Pune

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