HYDERABAD: Starting April 1, parking at city’s shopping malls are free for the first half-an-hour, but almost no one knows about it. All those entering malls in their motor vehicles on Sunday were reaching out for their wallets to pay parking charges but were duly informed by the parking place staff that their first half-an-hour at the mall would be free of charge.
However, not all mall management were aware of the Government Order (GO) and some of them were levying parking charges. Not just people, lesser-known malls in the city were unaware of the GO that made parking at private malls free for the first half-an-hour. Under the new parking policy, parking is also free after half-an-hour if a bill is produced as proof of purchase of goods from the mall or if one produces a valid movie ticket.
“I was totally unaware of these new rules, so I threw away the bill of my purchase at the food court. I just came to meet a friend and it took me an hour. I will definitely keep the bill with me next time,” said Surender Reddy, an employee with Andhra Bank.
So was the case with representatives of parking space management. “We were totally unaware of this GO and apologise to the public from whom we collected parking charges,” said a representative of South India Shopping Mall, Kukatpally. At another person manning the parking lot at R S Brothers mall at Ameerpet said, “We will implement the GO on parking charges at our malls from Monday.”
Forum Against Corruption president Vijay Gopal, who had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Hyderabad High Court in October 2017 seeking a parking policy for the city, said, “This confusion is because though the government had two weeks to inform the public, it did nothing. The department of information and public relations should have given broad media publicity to inform the public of the government’s decision.” Only some people on social media are aware of it but what about the rest of them?” This, according to him, is an imperfect GO. “What if the mall managements hike the parking fees to `300 for an hour? There are loopholes in this GO that can be exploited which is why we need an amendment to this order,” said Gopal.
GHMC has only “pasted” a copy of the GO at all commercial, shopping malls. The GO was served to them by the GHMC staff. Big shopping malls have introduced new parking tickets which mention fee as “zero” as one enters the mall’s parking lot. It is also mentioned, “Please produce shopping bill at the exit to waive off parking fee”. A parking lot contractor’s representative at Inorbit Mall near Hitec City said a customer would be charged for the number of hours spent at the mall.
GVK Mall in Banjara Hills, acknowledging the fact that many customers are unaware of the GO, said posters on the new parking policy would be placed at the entrance. “We are following the government order. We have got some posters to make the public aware. We will put them up soon,” said a senior official at GKV Mall who did not wish to be quoted.
Motorists park vehicles outside malls
In their attempt to evade parking fee at malls, a large number of motorists parked their vehicles along the roads as they were unaware of the new rule that exempts parking fee for first half-an-hour. On Sunday too, dozens of motorists had parked their bikes outside Inorbit Cyberbad mall. “People give excuses that they would be back in a giffy. They, however, take their own sweet time and this often causes a traffic jam,” said a security guard. S Jayaram, ACP Madhapur Traffic police said that a meeting will be held with all shopping mall managements in order to create awareness.