The number of vehicles has increased considerably in Leh in the last 16 years, which is one of the main reasons for parking crisis.
According to the data of Assistant Regional Transport Officer, Leh, 16,703 vehicles, including commercial and non-commercial vehicles, were registered in the last 16 years.
Due to the huge increase in the number of vehicles over the years, the city roads witness frequent traffic congestions, but the lack of parking space throws a greater challenge. The Municipal Corporation seems to be doing very little to resolve the issue.
Considering the urgent need of finding a solution to the problem, shoppers want the civic body to explore all options, including land acquisition or swapping of land, to find space for the construction of a multi-storeyed parking, immediately.
In an interview with Reach Ladakh in the Vol 4 issue 6, former RTO officer Ravi Shanker said that the demand for transportation has grown too much in Ladakh as compared to its population. Doda has 4 lakh population and the total number of vehicles is roughly 10,000. But here in Ladakh, the population is over two lakh, and there are more than 16,000 vehicles. From this, one can guess how the demand has increased dramatically.
The present RTO, Khadim Hussain, says that we cannot compare Ladakh with other places. In terms of area, Ladakh is bigger than Jammu and Kashmir regions put together and the number of vehicles is less as compared to other districts of the state. He says most of the vehicles in winter are not used as diesel cars are hard to run in winter. Looking at the influx of tourists, we need vehicles to cater to their needs.
Market associations allege that this leads to a situation that will hit their business too as shoppers park their vehicles near their shops.
Riyaz Ahmad, president, Merchant Association, Leh, says: “Our business is affected a lot due to this problem. Due to this, we are planning to shift our shops to some other place. We are looking for a mall where all the items will be available for the customers. We have raised this issue several times with the higher authorities. The administration has to provide a proper parking space to the people.”
A direct consequence of this is the rows of parked vehicles that eat into public roads space. As a result, frequent arguments and fights are becoming regular.
On the ground level, the situation is more than alarming as various recreational grounds like Polo Ground and the parking spot opposite the Council Secretariat have been turned into parking grounds.
Despite the phenomenal increase in car population, the parking norms have not been proportionately revised. The city needs to come out with a comprehensive policy to regulate on-street parking.
Dr. Zaida Bano, NAC head, says that the locations that have been demarcated as parking lots are largely unused. “Vehicle-owners just park wherever they want to, mostly in front of shops and restaurants,” she says.
Informing about the plan of NAC, she says that they are constructing a three-tier parking building worth ₹28 crore near Girls School under the AMRUT scheme.
“It is in tendering stage and hopefully, in this year itself, we will start the work. A minimum of three years will be taken to complete it.
According to the norms of Central Government, the building has to have a capacity for around 150 -170 vehicles.”
“As of now, the parking near Balkhang Chowk, Karzoo, is undertaken to cater to the additional requirements,” she says.
The city’s parking management issues must be looked into seriously with short, medium and long-term perspectives and clearly defined goals. This will go a long way towards enabling a better-planned development of the city.