CSE lambasts Delhi municipal agency's move to allow free parking in malls and commercial complexes

“It is shocking that at a time when killer pollution in Delhi demands strong restraints on car usage, our municipal agencies are pressing flawed laws to stop priced parking in commercial
complexes and malls”: CSE’s Air Pollution Control team


  • CSE calls for amending Delhi Master Plan that allows free floor area to malls and commercial complexes for basement parking and then bars them from charging for parking
  • This is perpetrating enormous subsidy for car usage in the world’s most polluted city
  • CSE demands that South Delhi Municipal Corporation should immediately circumvent this loophole in law and mandate all commercial establishments with basement parking to obtain trade license for commercial parking and not leave this decision to their discretion

New Delhi, December 3, 2015: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is shocked to note that the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has issued a public notice stating that shopping complexes and malls cannot charge for parking. They are upholding the flawed legal provision of the Delhi Master Plan that does not count the basement towards FAR of the building if it is used for parking and therefore, this cannot be used for commercial parking.

Instead South Delhi Municipal Corporation should have exercised its powers to make it mandatory for all these commercial establishments to obtain trade licence from the corporation to charge for parking and not leave this decision to the discretion of the malls and commercial establishments.

Says Anumita Roychowdhury, CSE’s executive director-research and advocacy and the head of its air pollution team: “It is shocking that when the city is reeling under pollution and congestion crisis, parking in malls and commercial establishments have been made free due to loophole in laws.” When CSE investigated the reason behind this move it found the quirk in the legal provisions of the Delhi Master Plan which does not count basement towards the floor area ratio (FAR) of these buildings is it is used for parking as parking is considered a ‘service’.

According to ‘Development Codes’ prescribed under Master Plan of Delhi—2021 basement is not counted towards FAR if used for purposes permissible under the building byelaws of the master plan. The permissible purposes include parking and other services requirements like air conditioning plant and equipment etc. Therefore as per the Delhi Master Plan municipal agencies cannot allow commercial transaction for parking in basement under the law.

This demands immediate correction and a mandate to introduce priced parking in basement parking of commercial establishments. These basement parking lots in malls are usually high capacity multilevel parking lots that act as a huge magnet for traffic and worsen the local congestion and pollution impacts. This should not be considered a service but a commercial activity for which car users must pay South Delhi Municipal Corporation and other municipalities should make it obligatory for these establishments to obtain trade license and share revenue with the government.

Roychowdhury says: “Delhi urgently needs a parking policy that will identify, delimit and notify legal parking areas in all zones based on local area assessment, penalty for illegal parking; and effectively priced parking to manage and reduce demand for parking. Also parking revenue can be used for local area improvement.  This is needed as the first step towards car restraint measures in this polluted city.”

Delhi is gridlocked and so polluted even when -- according to the Delhi Statistical Handbook 2014 -- only 22 per cent of its households own cars. Ironically, Delhi has much more cars per 1,000 people than some of the wealthiest cities in the world that have adopted car restraint policies to clean up the air. Delhi has 157 cars per 1,000 people whereas Singapore has 38 and Hong Kong, only 25. Delhi will have to remove the hidden subsidy that car owners and users enjoy.

  • CSE demands immediate intervention to introduce priced parking in all basement parking lots in commercial establishments and malls and plugging of the legal loophole that stops the municipalities from allowing commercial parking in such establishments.
  • Simultaneously, frame and implement a more comprehensive parking policy to reduce parking demand and chaos. Also enable use of parking revenue for local area improvement.

For more on this, connect to Souparno Banerjee, souparno@cseindia.org, 9910864339.