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Why the government is right in demanding ‘proof of parking’ for buying cars

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Bhimashankar Sanga
Elearning Evangelist, Occasional Writer & Full-Time Coach, Obsessive-Compulsive Thinker, Unapologetically Idealistic, Infoholic, Sybaritic.

In a recently held press conference, urban development minister M. Venkaiah Naidu announced that aspiring car owners should mandatorily produce parking space certificate in future.  This move’s raison d’etre is to regulate the sale of cars by coercing car owners to produce proof of parking space. It is also aimed at unblocking side streets and allowing driving access to side streets.

Our current hodge-podge parking enforcement is ineffectual. Nobody is immune to the horrors of mismanaged parking system. The busy streets clogged with parked cars engulf sidewalks and denies the safe passage for passengers. Undisciplined parking chokes up streets and is also responsible for traffic congestion. Arbitrary or whimsical parking slows down traffic and also gobbles up expensive real estate space which causes economic hemorrhage for the country.

This ‘proof of parking’ regulation was first enacted in July 2010 in the mountainous Himalayan state of Sikkim to control the ballooning vehicle population. In the following month, its neighboring state Mizoram issued a notification to mandatorily produce parking space availability certificate before one intends to purchase a car. The onus of issuing parking certificates after physical verification of the sites was swung back to the superintendent of police in-charge of traffic.

The state governments have all the power to adumbrate or chalk out all the details of ‘proof of parking’ implementation, and whether to implement it at all. This suggestion of producing ‘parking certificate’ was made in 2009 by Maharashtra government’s additional pleader Shashi Nair in the Bombay High Court before division bench of Justices Bilal Nazki and V K Tahilramani. Sunder Committee report had suggested amelioration to the Act point 29 of the Central Motor Vehicles Act, in 2011 by proposing to mandatorily furnish proof of parking space at the regional transport office (RTO). Center, however did not accept the proposal then.

In Japan, Parking space certificate or Shako Shomei Sho has to be compulsorily obtained from local police while registering a car, or while changing address. This parking law was enforced 55 years back in 1962. Japanese law gives the leniency of leasing a parking space, instead of owning a parking space. This law was enforced to prevent clogging of narrow Japanese streets with parked cars. On-street-parking is irremissibly banned in Korea’s island province of Cheju, though it is not implemented across South Korea. Philippines, China, Bangkok, Singapore etc. are trying to enforce similar parking laws to improve their transport systems.

Coming back to India, as the income of the middle class is rising, their aspirations and standard of living is also rising. This has resulted in people buying cars more than ever in Indian history. According to estimates, there are 20 cars per 1000 people currently, which is expected to grow by a whopping 775% by 2040.

India’s automotive industry is one of the largest in the world and accounts for 7.1 per cent of the India’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to a SIAM report, India’s automobile industry produced a total 23,960,940 vehicles including passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, three-wheelers and two-wheelers in April-March 2016 as against 23,358,047 in April-March 2015, registering a marginal growth of 2.58 percent over the same period, last year. Here, passenger vehicles include cars, utility vehicles and vans.

Automobile Production trends
Automobile Production trends

India is the sixth largest car manufacturer in the world from 2010 till 2015 – after China, US, Japan, Germany and South Korea, according to the annual reports shared by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA).

OICA 2015 Production Statistics
OICA 2015 Production Statistics

According to Ministry of Road Transport and Highways data, the number of registered cars that hit the road are increasing rapidly year-after-year.

number of registered cars
Number of registered cars

Our country’s infrastructural growth is stagnant and is not coping with the unrestrained increase in purchase of cars and vehicles. Increase in consumerism has also put enormous pressure on road transport. For example, two years ago, Economic Times reported that Pune had more than 25 lakh registered two and four-wheelers, but parking space was available is only for 1,800 vehicles.

Roads in residential areas and cities suffer from capacity constraints as their length and width are fixed. There is an addition of approximately 1 lakh vehicles per day which results in scarcity of parking space and traffic congestion.

Top 10 cities of India contribute 50% car sales in India. Delhi had the maximum number of cars in 2015 followed by Mumbai,  Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Jaipur and Cochin.

Car Sales in top 10 cities
Car Sales in top 10 cities

The below table shows the number of cars sold per thousand people in each of these cities. Delhi boasts of 25 cars per 1,000 people. Mumbai has 10 cars per 1000 people; Bangalore has 13 cars per 1000 people etc. Different estimates (pdf link) show that the number of cars in India will increase to about 35 cars per 1,000 population by 2025. This would amount to about 45–60 million cars on our roads and in some cities more than 300 cars per 1,000 population.

Cars Per Capita
Cars Per Capita

Indian road transport caters to 1.25 billion people with a share of 4.8% of the GDP. Parking on streets causes vehicular congestion and traffic delays. According to a study conducted by Transport Corporation of India (TCI) and IIM Calcutta, road congestion, traffic delays and additional fuel consumption due to poor road conditions and frequent halts leads to economic losses which are estimated at $21.3 billion per year.

An average sedan is about 5-3/4 feet wide, while the average height is slightly less than 5 feet. A sedan’s length averages just more than 17 feet (518.16 cm). A car’s parking space equates to the real estate market value of Rs. 2-5 lakhs on an average, in cities. Local municipal body is denied of this amount as the parking space is freely enjoyed by vehicle owners and shop owners. If we assume that the unauthorised parking of cars would be around 30 km, the total real estate value of unauthorized parking belt would be around Rs. 289 crores. That’s a huge economic loss to local municipality. This calculation does not take into account losses due to traffic delays, additional fuel consumption etc. To understand the loss in perspective, assume an annual rental of 10% of real estate market value then the Municipal body forgoes a hefty amount of more than 28 crore as annual rental revenue. This small chunk of additional revenue will definitely help the municipal body in multiple ways.

Government can plug these economic losses by enacting ‘proof of parking’ law. However, it has to ensure that loopholes such as circumventing the address of the car owner must be strictly addressed. There is a remote possibility that verifying parking spaces might spawn another source of graft and corruption. Government should make sure sufficient resources are provided to the agencies responsible for parking enforcement. Local traffic police, RTO and local bodies should undertake frequent checks of primary and secondary roads for illegally parked vehicles. This law will help to stop the economic hemorrhage caused by illegal parking.

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Bhimashankar Sanga
Elearning Evangelist, Occasional Writer & Full-Time Coach, Obsessive-Compulsive Thinker, Unapologetically Idealistic, Infoholic, Sybaritic.
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