Traffic experts think it will go against the current grain of discouraging cars in order to reduce congestion on the roads, but the Delhi Development Authority plans to change the land-use category of Gandhi Maidan in Chandni Chowk to turn the existing single-storey parking into a multi-level facility.
The two-hectare parking lot that shares a boundary wall with the metro station is in derelict condition. The ceiling, walls and concrete floor have developed cracks and there are mounds of garbage strewn around. Of the slots for 600 cars there, around a quarter are occupied by dumped cars.
“The corporation is taking no steps to improve the condition of the parking lot,” said the parking attendant hired by the private concessionaire that runs the parking facility. “The situation worsens during the monsoon season when the basement gets waterlogged.”
North corporation officials say that a new parking lot will solve such problems. But transport experts are aghast. At a time when efforts are being made to discourage use of private vehicles, increasing parking space is a bad idea, they argue. “Why do they want to increase the parking capacity? This will only add to congestion. Chandni Chowk can be made walkable and cyclist-friendly,” reasoned Anumita Roychowdhury, head of the air pollution and clean transportation programme at the Centre for Science and Environment.
Even the high-powered committee appointed by the urban development ministry to suggest way to decongest Delhi is not in favour of construction of new parking lots in Delhi. Efforts should instead be made to regulate on-street parking, manage the existing multi-level parking lots more efficiently and improve multi-modal transport facilities, while making the city pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
Of course, the traders in the locality themselves are all for enhanced parking facilities. “The only way to decongest the area is to remove on-street parking and route all vehicles to the multi-level parking,” said Sanjay Bhargava, general secretary, Chandi Chowk Sarv Vyapar Mandal. “We welcome more such parking facilities because thousands of people visit Chandni Chowk every day.”