Cars are major encroachers on public land. Parking gets huge hidden subsidies
A typical vehicle stays parked 95 per cent of the time. A 2006 study by the Central Road Research Institute in New Delhi estimated that of the
8,760 hours in a year, an average car's steering time is only 400 hours. This means it is driven for only about an hour a day. Yet parking is not
factored into the infrastructure requirements of automobiles--only roads and flyovers are considered infrastructure. Since parking is never a major
consideration of urban planning in India, its land requirement is never planned.
This puts an enormous pressure on scarce urban land. Most vehicles in Indian cities are privately owned, and they are mostly parked on public land,
be it on the roadside or in commercial parking lots. What is the amount of land required and what is its cost? This has hardly been studied in the
context of existing conditions in Indian cities, but there are estimates.
Transport regulators calculate the amount of land required to park a car at an average of 23 sq m, which includes the space occupied by the vehicle
as well as the minimum space needed to move it into and out of the space. This is called equivalent car space, or ecs
A typical two-wheeler requires 0.16 sq m of ecs.
So how much land do cars take up in Delhi? Assuming that one car uses one parking space--which is a gross underestimation as a car is parked at
several locations in a day--parked cars are already occupying about 3 per cent of Delhi's geographical area. This would go up to 9-10 per cent if we
assume that each car needs an average of three different parking slots.
Given the number of registered personal vehicles in Delhi, more than 45 million sq m of land is needed for parking. And the demand is growing each
day. On the basis of the 2005-06 figure of 308 new cars registered a day, the additional land required for parking each year is 2.5 million sq
m--roughly equivalent to 310 international football fields. Delhi doesn't have the land to park so many vehicles.
In August 2005, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi brought in a one-time charge of Rs 4,000 on all new cars being registered in Delhi as a "misuse" of
parking charge--commercial vehicles have to pay this amount every year. Considering that the duration of a private car's registration is 15 years,
this amounts to a charge of Rs 22 per month--or Re 0.74 per day or Re 0.03 per hour. Since most commercial parking lots in Delhi charge Rs 10 for
12 hours, a vehicle can be left there for a monthly charge of Rs 600.
But what are market rents like? In Delhi's posh Greater Kailash locality, the rent for 23 sq m in a residential area works out to Rs 6,900 per month,
given the rent of a ground floor house. In the same locality, the rent for a commercial space of 23 sq m works out to above Rs 25,000 per month. In
Connaught Place, the same amount of commercial space could cost a rent of above Rs 36,000 per month.
So, cars get a humongous hidden subsidy in the form of cheap parking land. It is this subsidy that allows more and more people to buy more and
Parking creates extremely inequitous uses of land. While a car is entitled to 23 sq m of public land, a very poor family gets a plot of about 18 sq m
under a Delhi government scheme. The government's low-cost housing scheme offers plots of 32 sq m. The amount of land consumed for parking the
number of private vehicles registered each day in 2005-06 would provide enough land for 600 low-cost houses a day.
Delhi, in other words, allots more public land for parking cars than it does to house its poor.And all this for only 30 per cent of city's population
which have a family car, based on figures of the National Council for Applied Economic Research.
areas is managed by three civic bodies in Delhi the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (mcd, which is supposed to serve
about 94 per cent of Delhi's land), the New Delhi Municipal Council (ndmc, which serves 3 per cent of the land), and the
Delhi Development Authority (dda, the agency that sets building norms and also controls some land). These agencies
give out contracts for parking lots for two to three years for a fixed amount based on the site's commercial potential; the contractors appoint their
'staff', who collect the fee. The profit or loss is borne by the contractor.
The civic agencies say available space is not enough to meet the rising parking demand. Since surface area cannot be expanded, they propose to
create structured multilevel parking lots mcd has proposed 19, ndmc three, and
class='UCASE'>ddafive. The thrust has also come from court orders, which in December 2004 directed the civic bodies to identify at least 100 sites to build multilevel parking.
The Delhi government has recently approved 16 'hi-tech' multilevel lots. But the economics of multilevel parking is poorly understood in India, where
vehicle owners are used to paying a ridiculously low fee.