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Metro rail solution for Guwahati's parking woes

The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) authorities designating 11 places in the city for purpose of vehicle parking is aimed at unauthorised collection on parking fee and is laudable.

Guwahati

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  21 Jan 2022 3:00 AM GMT

The Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) authorities designating 11 places in the city for purpose of vehicle parking is aimed at unauthorised collection on parking fee and is laudable. The city needs a smarter solution like metro rail system to its parking problems in order to cope with rising number of vehicles. In absence of efficient and quality public transport system, ownership of small cars and two-wheelers has increased for meeting personal mobility requirement. On-street parking reduces effective carriageway and slows down the city traffic and adds to traffic congestion woes. Use of spaces under the flyovers in the city has helped reduce on-street parking in some stretches of busy GS Road. Both sides of main throughfares of the city have mix of offices, roadside shops, restaurants besides residential houses. In absence of public parking spaces, on-street parking has increased manifold with rise in commercial activities along these main roads in many residential areas. Improved and affordable public transport system along these roads can help reduce the requirement of personal mobility. The city planner needs to urgently address the parking problem arising from use of residential areas along main throughfares for setting up offices or business establishments without any provision for parking. Scientific assessment of parking requirement based on projected growth in commercial activities will help make correct assessment of parking requirement. Market economy does not allow putting restrictions on the number vehicles of an individual for personal mobility. As long as owners have adequate space for parking of vehicles inside his or her residential campus this should not be an issue for the authorities. However, some residents of the city using the roadside as parking space for their additional personal cars has become rampant in many localities. A section of occupants of multi-storied apartments often uses the roadside, sometimes even blocking pavements, to park extra personal cars as space for parking is limited to one or two vehicles for each apartment owner. Some of them even leave such vehicles on the roads for days when owners travel out of the city. Neither the GMC, nor the city traffic police have any mechanism to check such unauthorised practice of on-street parking by a section of city residents. In some narrow streets and by-lanes the problem has become acute and calls for immediate measures by the GMC and City police to facilitate smooth traffic flow. Post COVID-19 pandemic, the market of pre-owned car has grown in the country as prices of such refurbished second-hand car is affordable as compared to new cars and also because of preference of personal mobility to public mobility out of health concern. The objectives of constructing more flyovers to reduce traffic congestion will remain unachieved without parking solutions for the entire city as vehicle needs to be kept parked till completion of work for which they travelled by it. Out of the box solution are needed for meeting the parking requirement. The city needs more multi-storied parking facilities but identification of locations to build these facilities requires comprehensive mapping and updated data of available spaces. One viable solution for rapid mass transport in Guwahati is introduction of metro rail system for the city. Mobilising resource for such an ambitious project is huge challenge for cash-starved state as the cost of setting up metro rail in the city is estimated to be to the tune of Rs 20,000 crores. Guwahati being the gateway to Northeast, services including public and private transport in the city cater not just to city residents alone but for lakhs of visitors from other parts of the state as well as six other North-eastern states. A metro rail project, therefore, will also be beneficial for all seven states in the region. Besides, Northeast being central to India's Act East Policy and Neighbourhood First policy, the central government fully funding the metro rail project of the capital city will go a long way in deepening multilateral engagement with ASEAN and neighbouring countries. The metro rail project can gain fresh momentum by rethinking the project from the perspectives of an important connectivity project under these foreign policy initiatives instead of looking at from the narrow perspective of cost-benefit analysis only for Guwahati city's traffic management. Such rethinking will also help Assam to impress upon the Central Government to support the metro rail project as a fully funded project. The Central Government's decision to take forward the 111-km Imphal-Moreh railway line despite the project being financially unviable as it is crucial for connectivity with Trans Asian Railway network has strengthened the casefor Assam government to lobby with the Central Government to fully fund the metro rail project for Guwahati city. Faster mobility will reduce the requirement of personal mobility in the city and make traffic manageable as it will also help reduce on street parking requirement.

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