Road rage: Khan Market accident waiting to happen?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

NEW DELHI - A day after a restaurant manager lost his life over a fight in a lane congested with parked cars, shoppers, shopkeepers and parking attendants said the gruesome incident was waiting to happen in the city that is plagued with chronic parking problem.

On Tuesday afternoon, Jet Airways pilot Vikas Agarwal ran his car over Rajiv Jolly, manager of Amici restaurant in Khan Market, in a case of road rage. Jolly was crushed to death by Agarwal’s Ford Ikon.

Traders blamed the incident over parking constraints in the market. The road where the incident took place is a thoroughfare from Amrita Shergill Marg to Subramaniam Bharati Marg.

The posh Khan Market is symptomatic of the severe parking space crunch in all markets in Delhi, where the growth of retail sector and car ownership has far outstripped the infrastructure required to adequately support it.

According to people that IANS spoke to, the Khan market incident could have happen anywhere in Delhi.

Khan Market shopkeepers said that the market sees some 5,000 visitors and 600 cars a day but has a parking space for only 200 cars, which leads to a major congestion. The shopkeepers association has been demanding a multi-parking facility since five years, but to no success.

They point out that the market originally had 150 shops. Over time, about 74 residential flats, most of them on the upper floors, have been converted into retail space - stretching the infrastructure to the limit.

“We have repeatedly appealed to the NDMC (New Delhi Municipal Council) and the Delhi Police to ensure that the road be only used for entering the market. But they have never considered our appeal,” Khan Market Traders Association president Sanjeev Mehra told IANS.

In 2010, global real estate consultants Cushman and Wakefield had listed Khan Market as the 21st most expensive retail space in the world, and the costliest in India.

“The area is jam-packed with disorderly parking and one cannot say that it is the country’s most-expensive retail destination,” Khan Market Traders Association vice president Brij G. Khosla said.

Many visitors complain that every time they visit the market, they have to face anxious moments looking for a parking space.

“With shoppers footfall on the rise everyday, there has been surprisingly no coherent parking management system in place to spare the visitors unnecessary trouble. Now, the problem has become so chronic that a person has lost his life,” Mehra said.

Meanwhile, NDMC claimed helplessness in going forward with the multi-level car parking project on Amrita Shergill Marg which has been pending for about five years.

“We wrote a letter to the (urban development) ministry seeking possession of land for building a multi-level car parking. We are awaiting a response. As soon as that comes through, we will start with all the formalities,” an NDMC official said.

This is a familiar tale in nearly all the popular markets in Delhi. In South Delhi’s green park, the main road in front of the market is often jammed with vehicles, even during the non-peak hours of late afternoon.

It is the same from Sarojini Nagar market in south Delhi to Karol Bagh in west Delhi.

“It takes at least 15 minutes to find a parking space going up and down the road… This is the main tension in any outing,” said Rohit Juneja, a handicrafts exporter.

Radhika Mukherjee, a resident of Vasant Kunj, feels that parking in Delhi is a “daily nightmare”. “With three-four people fighting for a single parking space, having arguments on parking has become the norm,” she said.

Filed under: Accidents and Disasters

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