Parking dreams in a jam

NEW DELHI: Delays, software glitches and extended trial runs have dogging the project for a long time. Though the city was promised 17 ambitious multilevel parking lots in time for the October

Published: 12th February 2012 12:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:54 PM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Delays, software glitches and extended trial runs have dogging the project for a long time. Though the city was promised 17 ambitious multilevel parking lots in time for the October 2010 Commonwealth Games, the first automated parking lot—South Square—was launched in Sarojini Nagar with much fanfare only in November 2011.

The plan to ease congestion and vehicular pollution in commercial areas like Connaught Place through multi-level lots has been floating around since 2007. However, a quick look at three parking lots in the NDMC area reveals that the first is operational but jinxed by a software malfunction, the launch of the second has been delayed by teething troubles of the first, while the third got stuck in the ground, soon after excavation began.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Protection and Control) Authority (EPCA), has made it clear that operations must be smooth and efficient, and parking rates cheaper than existing surface parking, for the lots to be successful. The NDMC has already proposed higher rates for surface parking in its latest budget, to encourage the use of the multi-level lots.

“The retrieval time for a car was nearly 20-25 minutes. We have stipulated it cannot be more than five minutes. In addition, the parking facility is of priority, as the resulting decongestion will help reduce vehicular pollution caused by waiting to get space,” said EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal. The EPCA’s mandate is clear—reduce waiting time for parking and ease congestion to reduce air pollution.


Built by DLF on NDMC-land on build-operate-transfer basis, the newly-inagurated 8-storey Sarojini Nagar lot can park 824 cars. The ground and first floors will have shops and fast-food joints. Two months after its launch, a software malfunction stalled car lifts, resulting in delays of over two hours. Around 100 vehicles were stuck. Cranes had to be used to retrieve them. It was closed for three days, while the system was retested. Though the problem has not recurred since, public faith is yet to be restored. Regulars to SN Market have been steering clear of the facility, egged on by surface parking attendants. The cost, at `10/hr, is higher than the `10 for first four hours at the conventional parking. “It’s like an automated valet parking, without need to leave car keys with attendants,” said a DLF official.


The 11-floor automated parking lot on Baba Kharak Singh Marg, across the road from state emporiums and next to the Airport metro station, is long overdue. The South Square glitch didn’t help matters. The `130 crore DLF project is still awaiting a final go-ahead, while trial runs with cars have now been underway for the past few weeks. Here again, two floors will be commercial space while the remaining nine are for parking. The same shifting pallet will be raised with lifts at the facility. The capacity is for 1,408 vehicles, and there are 12 lifts to raise them. The sequence and placement is fully automated and motorists’ enthusiasm is evident as they have already started trying to get in. Officials are hopeful of a launch by next month, and say parking will take priority over the retail space at both places.


The site, behind the HT building was cleared as far back as December 2009, but work was halted two years ago with ASI yet to grant full clearance because of an archaeological site, Agrasen ki Baoli, a dry stepwell, around 200 metres from the site. According to sources, no major construction work is permitted within a 100-metre radius. Permission for the next 200 metres, i.e between 100-300 metres from the site, is subject to ASI discretion. The irony is, several other buildings near the proposed 37-metre-high multilevel parking site, like Ambadeep, seem to have got lucky with their imposing heights of 45-50 metres. The planned 13 floors seem to have become unlucky for the 1,582-capacity lot. With an approximate investment of `160 crore, the company can do little before ASI officials make up their minds.


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