In Delhi, an unintended consequence of free parking: violent deaths

Posted on Jul 30 2014 - 7:54pm by admin

Source – Scroll –

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

Rajender Bhatia was sitting in his ground floor apartment in central Delhi on Sunday morning when his neighbour turned up. Kartik, who lived on the second floor of the same building, had come to pick a bone with Bhatia about the parking situation around their building. The argument quickly escalated and, according to the police, a couple of other men also joined the fracas that turned into a proper scuffle.

Then suddenly the 55-year-old Bhatia collapsed, prompting the others to run away and his family to take him to the hospital. The doctors there declared Bhatia dead on arrival and a case was registered against Kartik and the other men, who have since been arrested and booked with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Bhatia, unfortunately, is not the first to have died in an argument over parking in Delhi: there have been seven other violent incidents related to it this year alone. And, considering the state of parking in the capital, it’s unlikely Bhatia’s case will be the last.

Police records suggest that 15 people have died in the capital over parking-related issues in the past five years, with many more incidents of violent clashes. Other than the capital’s generally high stress levels, which have given it the reputation of being particularly prone to violence and spats, the huge number of cars being added to the roads combined with limited space is mainly what is behind this unique category of crimes. It isn’t uncommon to see car tires being slashed or a parked car being keyed by angry residents who see it as a way to complain about parking.

The problem according to urban planning experts, however, isn’t one of inadequate space for parking. A 2009 study carried out by the Centre for Science and Environment concluded that, based on standards laid down by the Delhi government, about 10% of all land in the capital is used by stationary vehicles — just a little less than the forest cover in the city, which is about 11.5% of all land.

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