Ahmedabad marks PARK(ing) Day, first in India

A large chunk of the parking space on the road between Gujarat University and Vijay crossroads was barricaded by students on Friday evening to drive home a point that cars take up too much public space when it can be used for so many other things.

Students from CEPT University, Centre for Environment Education (CEE) and workers from the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy (ITDP) brought together clay tiles and garden lawns to demarcate the stretch of roadside space and put up stalls where volunteers taught anyone interested lessons in palmistry, caricature and clay modelling, while others played carom boards, watched puppet shows and ate at ad-hoc eateries.

The PARK(ing) Day event was one of 180 such events across the world, and Friday's at Ahmedabad was India's first, organisers said.

"If the city starts charging a nominal parking fee of Rs 2 per hour for 2-wheelers and Rs 10 per hour for car, the revenue from just one year would pay for constructing good quality footpaths on the same street," they added.

Shraddha Waman, a first-year student of Urban Design at CEPT University, said about 200 to 300 people took part in the rainbow of activities, including invited municipal officers.

"The parking space has become a park, an extended cafe," said Waman.

Neighbouring restaurants like Souq also chipped in, as did building firm Bakeri. Students had waste bricks and planks from CEPT University to build makeshift seats.

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