To increase the parking fee or not to increase the parking fee at parking lots in the city? The question has created quite a furor among the inhabitants of the City Beautiful and led to tensions between the firm operating the parking lots and the civic body.
While the matter is yet to see the light of the day, sources have revealed that the civic body has decided to impose the parking ban in one of the city’s most popular shopping destinations — Sector 22 — from April 1 onwards to make it hassle-free and congestion-free for the visitors.
For now, the ban will be implemented in two of the sector’s busiest parking areas i.e. the parking lot in front of Kiran Cinema and the one located in internal market (Shastri Market) as a pilot project and later it will be rolled out to other parts of the city.
Under this unprecedented initiative, the existing parking lots in Sector 22 will be converted into pedestrians-only zones. The parking lot in front of Kiran Cinema will get a major makeover, including spacious public plaza, fountains, benches, greenery and a statue of Le Corbusier. On Sunday mornings, there will be a flea market, horse and wagon rides, as well as several food trucks offering regional delicacies.
Also, as part of the “April promotion plan”, the authorities plan to offer free bus rides to those visiting the Sector 22 market during the month of April. “The idea is to encourage people to leave their vehicles at home and help decongest the city’s traffic, particularly around popular attractions,” head of smart city transport policy, Peter Prasad said.
According to a source, a congestion-charging scheme is also on the cards to discourage motorists from entering Sector 22. The officials envision a hefty congestion charge of up to Rs 400 per day for motorists driving into the sector. But that’s not all. To address the deteriorating air quality standards and congestion, from this Sunday i.e. April 1, people using older vehicles, both petrol and diesel versions, will be liable to pay Rs 200 “toxicity charge”.
While the toxicity and congestion charges will cost the taxpayer, an official has stated that, “They will bring in revenues which will be used to strengthen the public transport system.” In fact, if sources are to be believed, the decks have already been cleared for the establishment of CPRT, aka Chandigarh Personal Rapid Transit system, or pod taxi system in the city for travel within the city limits. The top sources said the self-driving pods would travel on pre-defined routes in the first phase of the scheme, but would eventually be available for pick up from home using a smartphone app. The project is expected to be rolled out as early as June this year.
To celebrate the city’s French connection and to lend a vibrant mood to the city, plans are also being made to paint the public spaces, including the upcoming pedestrian zone in Sector 22, with French words, such as “Poisson d’Avril”, which literally means “Fish of April”, and symbolises an easily caught gullible fish, or the victim of an April Fools prank. Oh, and before I forget, Happy April Fools’ Day, folks!
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