Kolkata: The parking mafia is back in action. As pre-Puja shopping gathers pace, parking attendants manning shopping districts have begun extorting five to six times the legal rate from motorists. While complaints had already been pouring in from citizens, Kolkata Police, too, has now sent a special report on parking-fee irregularities to the Kolkata Municipal Corporation that is in charge of parking lots in the city.
On Park Street, the shopping-cum-dining hub, parking attendants are demanding Rs 50-60 for cars that park for even 30 minutes. The official parking fee is Rs 10 per hour. The owner of a luxury car said he had to negotiate the rate with the attendant before being allowed to park at Rs 100 for an hour and a half.
Local shopkeepers and restaurant owners said the attendants space out the cars in such a way that it would appear that the parking lot was full. They then negotiate a premium before manually rolling back and forth cars already parked in neutral gear to make space for the latest car.
On Rashbehari Avenue near Gariahat, attendants charged two-three times the amount while on Wood Street behind Vardaan Market, the rate was four-five times.
The police on Tuesday conducted drives on Park Street, Wood Street and Rashbehari Avenue and found parking attendants were charging more than the permitted rate at each location. “Some were openly asking for additional money citing pressure of vehicles. We have requested the KMC to take necessary steps,” said an officer from the south traffic guard. “We are keeping a round-the-clock vigil on the extortion by a section of parking attendants,” said Santosh Pandey, joint CP (crime and traffic).
A KMC official said they were keeping an eye on parking attendants in the shopping districts. “We have intensified our vigil following complaints from motorists. We have instructed the cooperative agencies in charge of parking lots to discipline some of the attendants,” a KMC official said.
South East traffic guard has found that many parking attendants were not issuing slips. “We have posted plainclothesmen,” said an officer.