Terming parking one of the "most serious problems", the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Delhi government to ensure that proper assessment of parking needs for the next 25 years is done while granting permission for building any structure in the national capital.
The top court directed all civic bodies -- the New Delhi Municipal Council, North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation, East Delhi Municipal Corporation and Delhi Cantonment Board -- to ensure pavements in residential areas are cleared from all encroachments and made usable for pedestrians.
The top court, which directed that the draft rules of the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019, be notified at the earliest and not later than September 30, said it shall be the duty of all concerned to ensure that the rules are enforced in "letter and spirit".
The Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019, envisages area parking plans and gives priority to pedestrians or cyclists followed by mass public transport, emergency vehicles and others.
"The persons who have encroached upon pavements shall be given notice of 15 days to remove the encroachment and in case they fail to do so the encroachment shall be removed by the municipal authority/authority concerned at the cost of the encroacher which shall be recovered as arrears of land revenue," a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said in its order.
"The authorities may also consider framing rules to discontinue municipal services to repeat encroachers," the bench said.
Passing a slew of directions in the matter, the bench directed the Delhi government, municipal authorities and the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) to consider the viability and effectiveness of introducing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, "parking guidance and information systems and last mile connectivity from parking spaces to commercial areas, institutions" and submit a report before it by September 30.
"The Government of NCT (national capital territory) is directed to ensure that while granting permission to build any structures, there is proper assessment of parking needs for the next 25 years and requisite parking facilities are available," the bench said.
It directed the EPCA and municipal authorities to take into consideration the observations made in the order while evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of pilot projects being undertaken to ease the parking problem in Delhi.
The bench said proper parking policies would lead to "less pollution, less crime and a better and more dignified life" which every citizen is entitled to under Article 21 of the Constitution.
"Before dealing with the issue of parking, we have to note that there is an abject failure on the part of the government and the authorities to provide adequate public transport to the citizens of the country," it said.
The bench said though the authorities are alive to the problem of parking, "the pace at which they are moving is extremely slow" and there is also total lack of innovation in finding solutions.
Referring to the Delhi Maintenance and Management of Parking Places Rules, 2019, the bench said it envisages that parking charges would include the cost of transporting the person from the place where his or her vehicle is parked to the market area by providing shuttle service.
"We direct that such facility should be by non-polluting vehicles such as electric or battery-operated vehicles, golf-carts etc," it said.
The bench said the pilot project, which is going on in Lajpat Nagar area in New Delhi, should continue for at least three months after which the court would be in a better position to evaluate both its shortcomings and benefits.
The top court asked the EPCA to prepare pilot projects for Krishna Nagar and Kamla Nagar areas within two weeks and submit a report by December 30.
It said modern technology must be used to ensure parking spaces are utilised to the maximum and for that it is necessary to have RFID tags for all vehicles coupled with parking guidance and information system in transport hubs, institutions and commercial areas.
"In any parking facility, where more than 100 cars can be parked, parking guidance and information systems should be compulsorily used," it said.
The court said that in transport hubs, like bus depots, railway stations, metro stations and airports, there should be adequate facilities for parking and emphasis should be on 'drop-and-go' arrangements.
"This aspect should be encouraged by having a very low or no fees for drop-offs and heavy fees for parking vehicles," the bench said.
It said that till late 1970s, motor cars were prerogative of the rich but as the economy of the country has improved and earning capacity of people has risen, there are more and more vehicles on the road.
"The golden rule is love thy neighbour. Today, the social fabric of neighbourhoods is being torn asunder because of fights over this most petty issue of parking of vehicles. Therefore, we feel there is a need to pass a detailed order on a mundane issue like parking because this may impact town planning," it said.
The court has posted the matter for further hearing on January 13 next year.
The issue of parking had cropped up before the top court while hearing the pollution matter related to Delhi-national capital region (NCR).
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