‘No parking’ for Chandigarh freeloaders

Chandigarh: Chandigarh’s VIP freeloaders, who were unwilling to cough up a paltry sum of Rs.5 for parking their luxury cars in the city, have been grounded for now.

After going overboard in issuing free parking passes, the Chandigarh municipal corporation (MC) has now cancelled these passes for all categories in this union territory that is the joint capital of both Punjab and Haryana.

The move follows a major controversy, involving Chandigarh Mayor Raj Bala Malik, senior functionaries of the MC and its councillors, in which free parking passes were issued to ineligible people by openly violating the fixed quota norm.

“It has been decided by the municipal corporation that all free and complimentary passes shall be invalid with immediate effect. All holders of such passes shall have to pay the parking charges, as applicable to normal paid parking,” a notice by Chandigarh Municipal Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh said Wednesday.

The MC has now decided to frame a new policy for free parking passes. These will be issued only to eligible people like councillors, officials, media, blood donors, war veterans and gallantry award winners.

Against her quota of just five passes, the mayor, who assumed office Jan 1 this year, issued 406 free parking passes – a massive 401 passes over and above her quota. The mayor belongs to the ruling Congress in the MC.

The issue came to light after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) councillor Arun Sood sought information on free parking passes issued by the MC in 2012. The details were shocking. A total of 3,020 free parking passes had been issued in just five months this year.

“This has caused a huge loss to the municipal corporation in revenue,” Sood said.

MC Officials said the loss incurred by the corporation due to the free passes was over Rs.2.8 crore.

Sood also alleged that the parking stickers and security holograms were purchased from a private printer, who is related to a councillor, instead of from the government printing press here.

However, during the debate on the controversy in the MC house here this week, Congress councillor and former mayor Subhash Chawla claimed that over 3,500 free parking passes were issued during the tenure of former mayor Harjinder Kaur, who belongs to the Akali Dal-BJP alliance.

Parking contractors seemed happy at the cancellation of the free passes.

“We were at the receiving end, as the so-called VIPs used to avail free parking facility for private purposes. Most of the free pass holders own expensive cars, but they avoided paying a paltry Rs.5 as parking fee,” a contractor in Sector 17 said.

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