BHUBANESWAR: On Sunday, Mayor Anant Narayan Jena led a team and cracked down on a parking lot near a mall for charging exorbitant fees from the public. While ` 5 was being collected for each two-wheeler against Rs 2, it was Rs 20 for a four-wheeler though the actual fee is Rs 10.
One of the two men present at the parking lot was arrested while the tender awarded to Satyanarayan Mohapatra Agency has been cancelled and a FIR lodged against the bidder.
It was not the first instance of BMC acting against over-charging of parking fees. Last month, the parking lot at the Adivasi Mela saw similar action.
With the number of vehicles rising sharply, parking has emerged as the biggest challenge for police as well as the BMC. There are a total of 13 parking lots in Bhubaneswar out of which four are managed by the BMC and the rest nine given to private contractors through bidding.
With demand for parking on the rise, bidding for the space is increasingly getting entangled in rackets, run by people with clout and muscle power.
Reliable sources said some unscrupulous bidders deliberately quote higher prices to outdo the competitors and such trends have come to stay in the City in the last couple of years. “Last year, one such bidder quoted a price which was double the amount of the previous year and going by the bidding process, BMC has to accept the highest price,” said a BMC top official.
What these racketeers do is they employ youths, mostly rowdies, at the parking lots and collect exorbitant fees from the public so that the proceeds could cover the bidding amount. “In most cases, they manage to cover the expenditure on the bid and those employed. We could blacklist a few but it does not work as a deterrent since proxies prop up and do the bidding on behalf of these racketeers,” said the BMC sources.
In most cases, such unethical practices continue right under the nose of the police while BMC field officials turn a blind eye even as the racketeers flourish. In the past, violent clashes had been reported over parking disputes too.