At a time when the government and policy makers are not leaving any stones unturned to achieve the aim of Housing for all, it is imperative to ensure that every available parcel of land is being put to its optimum use. However, if we take a closer look at the land use pattern in the capital city of Delhi, we realize a lot of space is being consumed for parking. While many of us might argue that a private vehicle has today become a necessity and hence the need for parking, this notion is far from reality.
A look at the economic pyramid of the city would clearly indicate that only about 18% of the total population falls under a monthly income of Rs 60,000 and above per month (as per consumer pyramid, center for monitoring Indian economy). Thus, more than 80% of the total population in the city earns less than Rs 60,000 per month, out of which more than 50% earns between Rs 5000-30,000 per month. With this statistics, it is safe to assume that most of the private vehicles in the city are being owned by the top 30-35% of the families and each family has multiple cars.
Now, in the current scenario, when it is becoming more and more difficult to find land to build housing, it is appalling to see how much land is being occupied for parking. Let’s understand the severity of the situation with an example:
- Typically, a single car parking lot occupies an area of 23 sq m which includes the minimum space required for it to move in and out of that space. This is called equivalent car space (ECS)
- If, on an average, each car is parked in two different locations daily, then it occupies 46 sq m of space in the city. Usually most of this is public land.
- Compare this to the fact that a typical EWS family in Delhi gets a plot or apartment of
25 sq m.
- This means that more land in the city is being allocated to parking private cars than being used for providing housing to the masses
The government and policy makers have been trying various steps to find a solution to this problem. For instance, in June 2017, the Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal approved the new parking policy in Delhi. The policy had suggested multiple provisions that might curb the parking menace in the city to some extent. These included differential parking charges wherein a higher parking fee would be levied during peak hours. Also, an increased road tax has been proposed for those buying more than one car. Further to discourage multiple cars in a family, higher parking fee would be charged for parking on residential streets.
Another provision that was floated in the policy involved providing parking proofs for any new commercial registrations. Also to save surface space, there has been suggestion in the policy to increase the rates for surface parking and reduce the same for multi-level parking. At present, the rates for the latter are higher.
These provisions, if implemented, might bring down the dependence of the city on private transport. However, with as many as eight agencies including the municipal bodies, DDA and traffic police involved in the implementation process, there is still a large question mark over the success of the policy.
Another, policy of the Delhi government that aims at reducing the dependence on motorized vehicles and hence private cars is the Transit Oriented Development. However, just like the Parking Policy, implementation is the prime concern here too.
Thus, it is quite visible that there is a clear intent from the government’s end. However, the challenge is changing the mindset of people. We are so used to traveling by our own cars, using public transport feels like too much of a trouble to most of us.
If the aim of ‘Housing for All’ has to be achieved it is the public mindset that needs to change. It is the public, particularly the high-heeled of the society, which need to understand that an EWS family can be housed within the space that a car takes up for parking.
Probably the government can take initiatives to educate the common man about the menace caused by excessive vehicular traffic and how it eats up into the available land resources. Changing mindsets take time and effort and it is not an over-night process. The sooner we realize this truth the better it is for the livability of the city.
By: Sruthi Kailas