Parking pangs in Chandigarh

  • Remember the famous dialogue in block-buster movie of 70s ‘Deewar’ between Amitabh rBachchan and Shashi Kapoor, “Mere paas gari hai, bangla hai, tere paas kya hai?” “Mere paas maan hai.” Based on the conversation between the two actors, there is a meme with a twist. “Mere paas Mercedes hai, BMW hai. Tere paas kya hai?” Pat comes the reply, “Mere paas parking space hai.” Fantastic!

Jokes apart, parking woes are everywhere.Le Corbusier, the man who designed Chandigarh in the 50s, would never have anticipated that one day the city would be bursting at seams with cars. The first planned city of independent India has the highest number of vehicles per household in the country. Call it fallout of prosperity or a bane of modern living, the city is jam packed with cars.

Parking woes abound everywhere in the city, particularly in sectors with Marla houses where
vehicles can be seen blocking lanes and clogging sidewalks. Till the 90s, when there was not more than one car per family, it was customary to park four wheelers inside the boundary wall of the house. The outer gates were shifted by a few feet beyond the boundary wall to accommodate cars inside the main gate. The scenario is quite different today. Now, each family has multiple personal vehicles. Cars are outside the house, and so are the gates, making permanent intrusion
on pavement. Moreover, permanent encroachments on public land outside the houses in the form of lawns and small gardens, maintained or unkempt, further eat into the limited space. With so many vehicles parked on the road berms, there is no footpath left for pedestrians .

The parking situation is no better in market places where finding a parking slot amidst vehicular congestion is a herculean task. You consider yourself lucky if you are able to find a slot. I can’t help sharing my exasperating experience of visiting Sector 22 market opposite the bus stand a few days ago. It was only after getting the green signal from the man at the parking gate that we entered the parking area, but steering the car in a clutter of haphazardly parked vehicles was a harrowing experience. We kept going round and round to get a parking spot but ultimately had to give up. Thank God my son was driving. Had I been on the driver’s seat, I would have fainted manoeuvring my car in the parking mess.

There is total chaos and mismanagement in almost all parking areas. Two wheelers and cars compete for space, often not using the designated parking space. Parking bays are not used efficiently as vehicles are parked callously, sometimes one car covering two bays.Adding to vehicular congestion in every sector market, nay market blocks are one or two permanently parked vehicles encroaching upon the limited parking space. A regular visitor to any sector market can easily identify these dusty, rusted vehicles with flat tyres stranded in the parking area more like permanent fixtures. These are not abandoned vehicles, but are improvised godowns of shopkeepers, being used for stacking their goods at virtually no cost.

(Published  in the column ‘Writing Bug’ Times of India, Chandigarh on 17April 2023)


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