Free parking for 30 minutes in metropolis malls from April 1, says TS govt. However consultants are sceptical about its implementation

if you’ve felt the pinch when you were handed a parking fee ticket of Rs 30 for popping into a mall for a quick burger and fries takeaway, then the recent on parking fee regulations at malls and multiplexes, would’ve surely made you cry out in joy. For the uninitiated, as per the order issued by the government of , the first 30 minutes of parking is going to be free of cost with effect from April 1. It gets even better. If you a produce a bill from the establishment, the parking fee for the next 60 to 120 minute will be also be waived off. While movie buffs in the city, who end up spending Rs 50-60 on parking each time they visit the theatre, are now rejoicing, legal experts remain sceptical. Pointing out the loopholes, they warn that the malls may continue to fleece us, GO or not!

There are too many grey areas. how will GHMC implement this?
Activist , who has been fighting against exorbitant parking fees that burden citizens, is of the opinion that the government’s order may just be an eyewash. it does not specify who the citizens must approach in case they are charged wrongfully, he says.
“It looks like the government has come up with a shoddy parking policy, where there is a lot of grey area. The GO does not speak about the fact that it is applicable for entire Telangana state. also, it says that the Commissioner of GHMC must ensure that it is followed and enforced. How feasible is that, really?”
“The GO also does not specify which commercial establishments come under the ambit. Do hospitals and single screen theatres come under the same? What purchase bill will I show? All these questions remain unanswered. Instead of solving the problem, it raises more problems for citizens,” adds Vijay Gopal.
A Venkatesh, an advocate, calls for an additional GO to be issued to end this ambiguity surrounding this. “We will certainly get 30 minutes of parking for free, which is great. but the GO does not specify how much the malls can charge me for the extra time if I fail to produce a bill. What if I enter a mall, and did not like anything and walked out — how much will they charge me then? With no cap set as of now, the mall management may have a free hand to charge exorbitant rates. Another additional GO should be issued to fix these issues,” says Venkatesh.
Ramakrishna Udupa, a Twitter user, also raised a concern as to how effective the GO would be as previous laws around parking spaces have been disregarded. Referring to GO 423, dated 1998, he asked, “Are they allowed to charge for parking? Isn’t it one of the mandatory amenities to be provided for permission to get commercial space? Even common areas which are for movement of fire tenders is used for parking. Implement rules sir (sic).”

Many commercial complexes don’t have adequate parking space, which in itself is a violation
As per GHMC rules, any commercial complex is supposed to have 44 per cent of their built up area as parking space. Barely 5 per cent of the establishments have sufficient parking areas. Construction companies will find ways to evade the rules and provide no basic amenities to the public,” rues , a consumer rights activist. On a different note, he goes on to add that a waiver in parking fee might just encourage more people to buy and use vehicles, which will increase pollution, and not to forget, traffic congestion. “We had filed a case in NGT stating how the parking near KBR has increased the pollution levels near the park. Imposing a parking fee instead might reduce traffic and encourage people to use public transport. Before going after the malls, government must focus on areas like Abids and Nampally, where vehicles are parked on the roads itself. These old shops must be given an incentive to have a proper parking area,” added Singh.

Something better than nothing, says aam admi
Hyderabadis, however, are rejoicing that parking fee is about to get waived, even if it’s for 30 minutes. “It’s a great initiative, as I often end up paying so much. Just last week I went in to watch a film and parked my bike at the mall. But as the tickets were unavailable I had to return soon and just for the 10 minutes I spent there, I was forced to pay Rs 30. When I went to the next mall, I did get the tickets and paid a parking fee there too. in the process, I shelled out almost one-fourth the amount of the movie ticket,” says , a movie buff.

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