Even as Bhubaneswar is all set to become a dream destination with ambitious plans of expansion, organised growth and infrastructure development, basic problems like parking continues to haunt this smart city. Parking vehicles in & around the city roads is an uphill task for its denizens. While shortage of parking lots has been a perennial problem for the city for years now, the situation might not get better in near future either as new buildings continue to mushroom across the city landscape without designated parking areas. To add to the woes of commuters, there seems to be no uniformity in collection of parking charges as well.
WORST AFFECTED AREAS
Unit- I Market is considered one of the busiest daily markets of the city. Every day, more than 40,000 people visit the market for their shopping needs but due to lack of parking space, most of the people end up parking their vehicles on the roadside.
Says Anirbanna Pradhan, a hotel owner, “Every day, I come to this place for vegetable shopping but parking my vehicle here is a headache. At times, I have to wait for long to get a space for my vehicle on this congested road.” Auto driver Thatagath Pani agrees as he points out, “For auto drivers, it’s even worse. If we park our vehicle in the paid zone, we face problems taking out the auto later since the entire patch is always overcrowded with vehicles. And, if we park anywhere else, we are either asked by the policemen to move away from that area or fined.”
The situation is no different at Unit II Market Building, one of the busiest and oldest market complexes of the city. Although every day hundreds and thousands of people visit the complex, parking remains a challenge. Earlier, there was a facility to park two wheelers within the market area but gradually for customer convenience, BMC stopped that. Currently, even though a new market complex has come up in the vicinity, no proper parking facilities have been ensured for visitors. People continue to park their vehicles all around the Market Building including residential areas.
These two market complexes apart, the entire stretch from Vanivihar to Rajmahal present a sorry picture when it comes to parking provisions for vehicles. Bulk of the four wheelers can be seen parked on the roads, causing traffic congestion. Despite such a poor state of affairs, new malls, hospitals and offices keep coming up every other month, that too without proper parking facilities.
One of the leading hospitals in Acharya Vihar which is located just on the roadside is a case in point. The hospital does not have adequate parking provisions. As a result, patients and their attendants park vehicles on the main road, which creates problems for other commuters. Many times one can witness accidents in this patch because of the congested situation. This is one of the busiest roads in the city and since buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles also ply on this route, it gets difficult when people park their vehicles on the road.
‘IRREGULAR’ PARKING CHARGES
Lack of parking spaces apart, another problem that commuters have to do with is the irregularity in collection of parking fees. In some places, it is Rs. 5 for two wheelers while in other areas, it is Rs. 3. Likewise for cars, the parking charges vary from Rs. 10 to Rs. 30! Some private malls, who have their own parking lots, also collect a fee, which people feel should be avoided since they are already spending in the malls.
‘SOLUTIONS’ YET TO MATERIALISE
Currently, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has only 17 parking lots in the city, which can house around 2,500 vehicles while the Bhubaneswar Development Authority has 10 parking lots, mostly in front of the parks, where around 1,000 cars can be parked. However, as per a recent estimate, over 8.2 lakh vehicles ply on the city roads out of which 15 percent comprise four wheelers, which clearly indicates that the parking lots available aren’t adequate enough for the vehicles.
To resolve the parking issue, more than one multi level car parking facilities were planned last year and BMC also had proposed to rope in consultants to prepare the project reports but nothing has been materialised so far. As per the plans, car parking would have lifts, pallets and computerised control system so that a large number of cars can be parked properly within a very limited space and in an organised manner at one time. But the major issue before establishment of the multi level car parking in city is street parking which has to be regulated. For this BMC and traffic police have to work in tandem.
Additional BMC Commissioner Alok Kumar Kar, however, told MCL that the multi parking systems haven’t been put in place since the parking sites haven’t been decided yet. “As far as unauthorised parking goes, we are trying to be as strict as possible but it isn’t our duty alone. People need to be conscious and responsible too.”
We strongly hope that Bhubaneswar soon develops as the smartest city in terms of enhanced parking facilities as well. Though it seems like a distant dream as of now, but with the constant coordination of citizens and authorities concerned, we are sure that the same will be achieved a little sooner than imagined!