RE - The most-trumpeted project of underground parking plaza at Nila Gunmbad, aimed at resolving parking problems of Anarkali Bazaar and its surrounding areas including Mayo Hospital, is stated have finally been shelved on account of non-availability of funds and sheer indifference of City District Government Lahore, The Nation learnt here on Tuesday.
The Traffic Engineering and Planning Agency (TEPA) envisaged this project a year back to address the most pressing parking problem in the area, and submitted the plan to the CDGL for execution. With a parking capacity of 376 cars, it was to be completed within a year at an estimated cost of Rs 274.40 million.
Sources in the CDGL confirmed that the project has been put on the back burner and not a single penny has been allocated for its execution in the current budget.
It has been learnt that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif took up the issue of construction of parking plazas including the one in question at Nila Gunmbad during a recent meeting with the officials of LDA, TEPA and traffic police.
But the authorities concerned told the CM that a parking plaza near Liberty Market should be attached priority vis-a-vis other such projects. The CM was further told that the plaza at Liberty Market would have a capacity to park 300 cars and would be completed in next six months at an estimated cost of Rs 250 million.
Despite the fact that parking plaza at Nila Gunmbad is the most visited area due to its proximity to Mayo Hospital, Anarkali Bazaar, King Edward Medical College, Punjab University, Government College University, Lahore Museum and National College of Arts, a number of banks, government offices, famous bicycle market, the project of underground parking plaza with two basements has been shelved for the time being.
It is to be noted that due to non-availability of any parking space, traffic congestion and jams have become order of the day around Nila Gunmabd area. Vehicular traffic as well as hand pushed two and four wheeler carts are seen stranded most of time while some time pedestrians also feel great difficulty to pass through into the area due to worst traffic mess.
The Nila Gunmbad, approachable through Dhani Ram Road, The Mall, Anarkali Bazaar and from the entry and exit points of Mayo Hospital, has to face heavy flow of traffic all the time. As there is no proper parking facility, cars and motorcycles have to be parked on the roadsides. Double parking at times also adds to already messed up situation.
Traffic experts say that traffic congestion means that people waste long periods of time in commuting, typically in unpleasant or nerve-wracking conditions marked by fierce rivalry for road-space.
"In the city of Lahore, commuting time has doubled over the past decade, air pollution is causing grievous health damage, including respiratory problems and psychological stress, transport expenses are rising, leading to cuts in spending on other necessities of life," a traffic engineer summarised the ugly situation at the said place.
He said the problem was getting aggravated with proliferation in the number of cars and two-wheelers in the absence of parking plazas, with the result that many parking contractors have declared their own 'loose' boundaries and pushed their limits beyond those defined by the City District Government Lahore (CDGL). In many cases, these contractors use roadsides and footpaths as well to accommodate vehicles.
Another common trend now a days is that contractors allow people to park vehicles behind the already parked ones. In such cases, they ask owners not to lock their vehicles and hand over their keys to them so that they can move them freely if required.
It merits mentioning here that initially, Lahore District Nazim, Mian Amer Mahmood took keen interest in the Nila Gunmbad parking plaza and other parking plazas in the city, but when it came to allocation of funds for their execution, he seemed least concerned. He had then also declared exemption from payment of all types of dues including commercialisation fee and site-plan approval fee to encourage construction of parking plazas.
It may be recalled The Lahore Development Authority has not permitted anyone to construct a multi-storey plaza during the last 20 years. The D-Point Car Parking Plaza at Shah Alam Market is an exception. The plaza was built by the LDA itself. launched in 1992, D-Point Plaza has played a pivotal role in lessening the parking problems of this business hub of the city.
The eight-storey D-Point Car Parking plaza was constructed at a cost of around Rs 170 million in a span of over nine years. The plaza, which can accommodate 500 cars and 1,000 motorcycles at a time, has three basements.
"Built basically with a view to resolve persistent parking problems, especially in the congested stretch from Shah Alam Chowk to Rang Mahal, the construction of the D-point plaza was initiated with the help of the private sector in 1992 in the era of former Chief Minister Punjab Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo. It may be recalled that government is planning 12 underground parking plazas with the help of private sectors at Masti Gate, Dehli Gate, Mochi Gate, Shah Aalmi Gate, Lohari Gate, Gulberg, MM Alam Road Model Town Link Road plans to construct a seven-storey parking plaza inside Lahore Town Hall .