In a welcome move, the Telangana government issued orders on Tuesday to regulate the parking fee charged by commercial establishments in all urban areas of the state, including Hyderabad.
According to the Government Order (GO), visitors of malls and multiplexes can park their vehicles for free for the first 30 minutes, starting from April 1.
The GO states that no parking fee shall be collected for the first half an hour, which could be extended to one hour if the vehicle owner produces a bill of purchase from the mall or multiplex.
In case the vehicle has been parked for more than one hour and the owner produces a bill or movie ticket which costs more than the parking fee, then the parking fee will not have to be paid, the GO adds.
Besides these exceptions, the prescribed parking fee for a certain duration can be collected by the managements of these establishments.
This comes after several citizens complained that they were being fleeced by parking fees, whenever they visited malls and multiplexes.
Taking to Twitter, Municipal Administration and Urban Development Principal (MAUD) Secretary Arvind Kumar posted a copy of the GO on social media.
"Based on complaints on high parking fee made to MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao, parking fee in malls and multiplexes rationalised for all urban areas including Hyderabad with effect from April 1. No parking fee for first half hour and subsequently, free parking upon producing purchase bills from the mall," Arvind Kumar tweeted.
Based on complaints on high parking fee made to min @KTRTRS, Parking fee in #Malls & #Multiplexes rationalised for all Urban Areas incl #Hyderabad wef April 1st. No parking fee for first half hour & subsequently, free parking upon producing purchase bills from the mall/ticket. pic.twitter.com/Mey9axAcNw— Arvind Kumar (@arvindkumar_ias) March 20, 2018
The official also sent instructions to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to make sure the GO is implemented.
This order comes after several citizens moved court and submitted representations on the issue.
In February this year, an advocate wrote to Hyderabad Commissioner of police VV Srinivasa Rao, arguing that the collection of parking fees was illegal.
"Commercial complex owners have no authority under the act to impose and collect fees from the public. According to rule 12 of the Multi-Storeyed Building Rules 1981 and zoning regulation of GO number 423, it is mandatory for owners of commercial complexes to provide regular parking facility to visitors at free of cost. These complexes shall use them as commercial ventures and make money out of them," Advocate K Ravalee, was quoted as saying.
In August last year, an FIR was registered against Inorbit Mall at the Madhapur Police Station, after a resident complained that he was forced to pay Rs 30 for using the parking lot for just 10 minutes.
While the move is being welcomed by many, some activists argue that there were a lot of unanswered questions in the order that could be misused.
Taking to Facebook, activist Vijay Gopal who had filed the police complaint on the matter said, "The GO does not speak about the fact that it is applicable to the entire state of Telangana, and also says that the GHMC Commissioner must ensure that it is followed and enforced. The GO does not say it is applicable only to GHMC, so I'm not sure if this is answering the issues or raising more problems for citizens? Are we saying people in Warangal, Nalgonda, Nizambad, Karimnagar, etc., should pay for parking?"
"Can hospitals charge for parking? What purchase bill will I show? Will single-screen theatres come under the term 'commercial establishments'? How will I, as a consumer, know how much to pay and how much is too much? Who decides the 'prescribed fee' which may be collected? Any private place which does not have 44% of built-up area left for parking, cannot take money as they are already in violation of the law," he added.