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Cafes in Ahmedabad at crossroads over parking regulations



The first world heritage city of India, aapnu Amdavad is changing. While the joint traffic drive by the AMC and traffic police to decongest city’s roads which are bearing the brunt of the ever-increasing number of vehicles is being appreciated by commuters, food business seems to have been impacted.
Though authorities claim that the move will help the city become more pedestrian-friendly and make citizens more responsible for their own city, Amdavadi foodies say the drive is leaving a sour taste in their mouths. Be it roadside vendors or high-end cafés and standalone eateries, almost everyone claims they have been hit by the abrupt execution against haphazard parking at such a short notice. Restaurateurs say the drive against illegal parking started without taking them on board or at least having a discussion and is hitting their business. Some even predict a 30% loss in their revenue since the drive started.

It all started with sealing city club and other eateries on SG Highway to demolishing the popular Khau Galli at the Law Garden. We try to find out what the stakeholders feel.

Much needed yet unplanned drive

Café owners of the city say that most Amdavadis are still not open to the idea of parking at a different spot and walking all the way to a restaurant, which means the parking drive has hit their business beyond imagination. Cafés and eateries that don’t have the right parking facility have been affected the most.

Chapter head of National Restaurant Association of India, Devarshi Patel, said, “Authorities are well-intentioned but the execution has gone haywire. They should have at least consulted us or taken our viewpoint into consideration before coming up with such a drive. May be we would have come up with a solution before they started it.”

Patel, who also owns cafés at Bodakdev and CG Road, said, “We have suffered a loss of 30-50% at both cafes. It is not our fault that we have eateries in a shopping complex or a commercial building. We can’t predict how many people are going to visit us. We don’t know about the size of the parking area the commercial building should have. And it is not just because of the café or eateries that there are traffic issues. There are other reasons too, but I don’t know why they are targeting this particular industry.”

Rushad Ginwala, a restaurant owner, shares, “We welcome the change, but this move has caused us a loss of 20-25%. Earlier, parking at the service lane on SG Highway was not an issue. But now they are not allowing that. People have stopped going to the restaurants on that lane.”

Amdavadis prefer parking spots near eateries!

Lester D’souza, owner of a multi-chain café in city, says, “We have a habit of parking vehicles in front of the restaurant. Amdavadis are not used to walking! This drive will make them walk some steps for a delicious meal. Mumbaikars and Delhiites park their vehicles at the designated parking spot and walk till their favourite restaurant.” He adds, a lot of people are making efforts to make the city look cleaner, spacious and traffic-free. Let us all contribute to making our Ahmedabad better.

Ginwala adds, “Many are criticizing the way Law Garden Khau Galli was demolished. They fail to understand that these eateries will not disappear altogether but will come up at a better place in an organized manner. Such Khau Gallis will be vehicle free zones. If executed well, there will be no parking issues. Also, people should get used to pay parking fees or use public transport.”

The man behind the whole drive, AMC commissioner Vijay Nehra, says, “We don’t want people to get stuck in traffic snarls. These steps will ensure a parking discipline. People will only go to cafés or eateries with proper parking space. Restaurateurs now know what to do with the space they have. We are also planning to implement a one of its kind off-street and on-street parking. It includes 74 new parking slots where one can park for free. Under on-street parking, Amdavadis would be able to park on street but will also have to pay the parking fees. This amount is yet to be decided.”

People will only go to cafés or eateries that have a proper parking space. Restaurateurs now know what to do with the space they have. We are also planning to implement a one of its kind off-street and on-street parking. It includes 74 new parking slots.

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