Tribune News Service
Bathinda, February 23
A large number of paying guest (PG) accommodations in the city have been running without obtaining a fire safety certificate from the authorities. It seems that the administration has turned a blind eye towards the issue and waiting for a Chandigarh-like tragedy to happen before taking any action.
On Saturday, three girl students were killed after a fire broke out in a PG in Sector 32 of Chandigarh. According to preliminary probe, a short circuit could be the reason behind the incident. Many educational institutes, coaching centres, PGs, factories, commercial complexes and high-rise buildings lack proper arrangements to deal with fire incidents.
Beeline by youngsters to stay in the city while studying in coaching institutes has led to a rise in the number of illegal PGs. In the absence of any concrete mechanism of keeping a check on these accommodations, it seems that turning a house or a floor into a PG is a lucrative option.
In many PGs, a store is being used a room and there is one bathroom for 10 persons. Besides, unhygienic conditions and a paucity of facilities such as electricity and water supply backup are a common affair is many PGs.
More than 200 PGs are running illegally in the city and of these, only 20 have been registered in the old house tax record of the civic body.
The MC does not have any information about the exact number of PGs running in the city. Therefore, it is not getting tax from PG owners.
It seems that PG owners don’t want to get registered because after registration, they have to pay commercial rates for water and electricity, along with commercial property tax, to the civic body.
Most of the PGs have come up in areas such as Ajit Road, 100 Feet Road, Power House Road and Jujhar Singh Nagar. In a bid to form a regularisation policy for the PGs, the MC had started a door-to-door survey during its last term, but it could not be completed because political leaders were involved in the business. They got the survey stopped by using influence.
With the city turning into an educational hub in the region, providing PG and hostel accommodations has become a big business. It is mandatory to have more than 7-marla land to run a PG. But, these are running without a check in LIG and small houses.
MC Commissioner Bikramjit Singh Shergill, said “I have directed officials to check fire safety arrangements in all registered commercial establishments, including PGs, in the city. I had issued many notices in this regard. But, we will again get it checked and strict action will be taken against the illegal PGs in the city.”
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