The authorities should become serious about the safety of students staying in paying guest (PG) accommodations. They should ensure that the buildings have proper ventilation and rooms are not congested. The MC’s Fire Department should issue fire NOCs subject to fulfilment of safety precautions. PG owners must stay on the ground floor of the building. All type of illegal and unregistered facilities should be banned. Attendance registers should be maintained and first-aid facilities should be arranged. The authorities should take strict action against those found guilty. Also, the administration should construct hostels for the students coming from other states for coaching.
Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali
Regulating PGs need of the hour
The recent fire incident at a PG accommodation that took three precious lives has sent waves of shock across the country. As Chandigarh is becoming an educational hub, it is attracting an increasing number of students and professionals from across the region. With such inflow of students, accommodation has become a great problem. The house owners in the city are gaining benefit from the situation and minting money by overcrowding their residential quarters. They have constructed rooms in their backyards and built cabins in rooms to take in maximum number of paying guests. Taking strict action on such illegal PGs is the need of the hour. The owners running PGs without permission should be suitably fined and the premises sealed. A set of rules and regulations be made which must state that not more than two students be allowed in one room and also stating fixed reasonable rentals for the occupiers. Apart from this, the administration needs to look for a long-term solution to the accommodation problem and this can be done by constructing separate hostels for boys and girls so as to adjust the burgeoning population of outsiders.
Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh
Accommodation by coaching centres
The loss of three lives in a PG fire has shown how these were being run with the sole motive of extracting maximum profit. All coaching centres should be asked to provide affordable and safe accommodation to their students. Also, the administration should relax norms for the registration of PGs in the city.
Bharat Bhushan Sharma, Chandigarh
Ensure random inspections
In the absence of adequate hostel facilities, students look for PG accommodations. Taking advantage of the situation, the unscrupulous PG operators not only charge exorbitant rent from students, but also violate stipulated guidelines with great impunity. The authorities must take a call and seal all unregistered PGs. Also, the registered PGs must be inspected to ensure these comply with the guidelines. Random inspections must be ensured and violations if found must lead to cancellation of licence.
SS Arora, Mohali
A large number of residents have converted their houses into PG accommodations. Regular checks by the police and feedback on the condition of PG accommodations should be carried out. Greedy house owners should be taken to task. No student should be harassed, but indiscipline should also not be allowed. PG accommodation is a necessity, but let it not become a liability for the administration, residents and students. The administration has to streamline the system on a priority and follow it up.
Col RD Singh (retd), Ambala City
Report about illegal PGs in vicinity
All stakeholders need to come together to fight and end the menace of illegal PGs running in the city. Let’s accept that the city has become an educational hub wherein students from neighbouring areas come for a better future. The administration can frame a policy under which coaching institutes should provide accommodation to their students. This can be either hostels or rooms taken on rent by the institutes. Besides, all registered PGs should have mandatory fire safety certificate and approved building plan. Parents should not compromise on the safety of their wards. People should also come forward and report about illegal PGs running in their vicinity.
Rajeev Kumar, Chandigarh
Ensure fire alarm in every room
All PGs should be registered and there should be fire alarms and extinguishers in every room so that no such incident recurs in the future. Educational institutions should make multistoried hostels to provide accommodation to students within the campus.
Harish Kapur, Chandigarh
Need to instil fear of law among owners
Thousands of students opt for PGs due to lack of hostel facility in educational institutions. This has given a boost to the PG culture. People convert their houses into PGs without complying with norms. There is a need to instil fear of law among the PGs owners. Sector RWAs should be taken into confidence and they should be requested to provide feedback of their sectors.
Vidya Sagar Garg, Panchkula
The Chandigarh Administration and the Municipal Corporation must jointly take responsibility for such tragedies. The authorities should draw up a plan that specifies location and residences where such business could be permitted. Commercial activities of this kind must not be permitted in residences less than 10 marlas (250 square yards). Also, there is a need to regulate rental and other expenses charged from the paying guests. Fire escape measures should be ensured. Registration of all permissible accommodations in the city should be monitored. Defaulters in bureaucracy and owners should be heavily penalised.
SS Bhatti, Chandigarh
Flouting norms with impunity
There is no denying the fact that much has been said and written about paying guests houses illegally operating in Chandigarh and its neighbouring satellite township, Panchkula and Mohali, but to no avail as nothing concrete has come out of the narrative, to say the least. The nerve-chilling death of three girls in an ill-kempt PG accommodation blaze in Sector 32 is yet another grim reminder how norms are being violated with impunity while the dispensation acting as a lame duck. The dispensation needs to adopt a stern stance on the thick-skinned PG owners, who care two hoots for the norms in place in cahoots with the power that be. Now that much blood has been shed, those at the helms of affairs need to come out of their deep slumber and take an urgent call on recurrence of such macabre mishaps snuffing out innocent lives. The dispensation needs to crack a whip on those indulging in spinning money at the cost of precious human lives. Enough is enough. Frame stringent laws to arm twist the unscrupulous PG operators lest money spinning should become their sole objective. Enactment of effective laws and their efficacious implementation would go a long way in minimising, if not eradicating altogether, such avoidable mishaps. Physical verification of PGs annually/biannually needs to put in place. There is a dire need to identify PGs across the city and order closure of those running without valid registration. And the registered ones be told unequivocally to fall in line and follow safety norms in letter and spirit or face closure. Laxity on the part of those at the helms needs to be monitored and those guilty of dereliction of duty be made accountable and punished. Else how could thousands of PGs run in the city without possessing valid registration, with 25 out of them having valid licences?
Ramesh K Dhiman, Chandigarh
Nexus between PG owners, officials
This incident clearly shows that the officials concerned and the top brass of the Administration was in slumber. No record of registered/unregistered PGs is available with the Estate Office which amounts to the nexus between PG owners and the officials concerned. The Estate Officer and the other administration officers should act strongly to do away with this menace. The nexus should be brought to an end and the officials found lax in their duty should be taken to task.
MR Bhateja, Nayagaon
Law enforcement an area of concern
Merely registering PGs with the Administration does not solve the problem. Thousands of SCOs/commercial establishments do not meet the fire safety standards. The fire at the Sector 32 PG was a mere accident which can happen even in a normal house. Yes, guidelines for PGs must be circulated, but the enforcement of the same will remain a Herculean task. If the government makes hostels for outstation students, the problem will automatically be solved.
Wg Cdr DPS Bajwa (retd), Chandigarh
Least bothered about safety norms
Most of the PG accommodations have been outsourced to other parties by their owners and they are least bothered about safety norms. Many PG accommodations are owned by influential people who usually manipulate things in their favour. The only way to control the mushrooming of unauthorised PG accommodations is to tighten the noose around the owners irrespective of their social status.
Ravinder Nath, Chandigarh
Cheap accommodation for students
There may be many PGs and unregistered hostels in the city where students have to compromise with hygiene, privacy and safety measures. Educational institutes, coaching centres and various other organisations admit thousands of students. Therefore, it is impossible to accommodate all students on campus hostels. Under such circumstances, it is necessary that either the city institutes provide affordable accommodation to students with all facilities and security measures or it should ensure that the students get the hostels and PGs with requisite facilities. It is the foremost responsibility of the institute to help the students in this issue by coordination and guiding them well at the time of admission. Both administration and institutes must collectively ensure that the students residing outside the campus in hostels and PGs are safe and they comply with requisite measures and standard norms.
Karan Singh Vinayak, Chandigarh.
Define rules clearly
The government should clearly define rules as to who is to be treated as PG or tenant and widely publicise the same. House owners who provide space and food both may get themselves registered appropriately. Fire safety rules should be strictly followed. PGs or tenants should also not indulge in unlawful activities and the government may also not harass house owners in the name of PGs.
Naresh Kapur, Chandigarh
Create online portal for owners
People convert houses into PGs without taking care of rules and regulations such as fire extinguisher, emergency door, etc. Even the administration hardly takes interest in cross verifying who is coming and going out of the city. The administration can start a citizen-friendly portal where details of paying guests can be uploaded. Also, the government should specify minimum rules and regulations for running a PG.
Avinash Goyal, Chandigarh
Allow cheap hostels, not PGs
Mounting greed is the culprit and will continue to take its toll unless foolproof provisions are put in place. Commercial activities in homes should not be allowed with or without permit since these are not designed and equipped as such. Building of private hostels for students, who want PG-like cheap dwelling, should be allowed in localities where educational institutions are situated.
Lalit Bharadwaj, Panchkula
Regular monitoring of PGs by police
PG owners violate safety norms to make extra bucks. Some of the PG are too congested and dingy that even the fire brigade finds it difficult to reach on time. Owners should be held accountable for any mishap in the PG. Regular monitoring of PGs by the police may help check safety of children.
Charu Malhotra, Mohali
Fix rational rates for PGs
The administration must take it a challenge and make PG accommodations for working women in the tricity with proper building, fire and safety norms. In big cities, there are hostels for working women. PG owners must give a monthly certificate that the premises are adhering to all fire and safety norms. The administration also must fix rational rates for PG accommodations like school fees. PG holders must not exploit the tenants for their helplessness and also must be made liable to take an insurance policy of each occupant.
Capt Amar Jeet Kumar (retd), Mohali
Prevention is the key, not firefighting
The Fire Department, including of those in towns of Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Lalru, Landran and others, do not only have proper equipment. Also, they are short of manpower. SCOs converted into hotels/coaching centres, and residential accommodations into dingy cubby holed PGs, all without any statutory permissions or equipment like wet risers, water hydrants, hoses and fire extinguishers in place. It is high time that the Punjab and Haryana Government and the UT Administration act proactively. Prevention is the key, not firefighting.
Rajiv Boolchand Jain, Zirakpur
Parents must not approve such type of crowded places for their children. The UT Administration must think of building some types of accommodation exclusively for students. There is an urgent need to register all PGs and defaulting house owners should be penalised.
MS Ishar, Mohali
Enforce building bylaws strictly
To ensure safety of inhabitants, the Estate Office/Chandigarh Housing Board should ensure that no unauthorised addition/alteration is done to any residential/commercial unit in any manner. The misuse of buildings has become a cause for concern. The courts should also observe restraint while issuing stay orders in such sensitive cases. The authorities should act against erring persons quickly without entertaining any political pressure as safety is more important than votes. The Fire Department should be allowed to inspect all buildings to ensure that there is no violation of fire-fighting rules
KC Rana, Chandigarh
Issue licence after fulfilment of norms
The administration should lay down mandate rules and norms to be followed strictly by the PG owners to obtain licence from the government to run this business. Proper infrastructure with sufficient space, entry and exit points should be there. Time to time checking should be done by the administration. In case of violation of norms, their licence should be cancelled and hefty penalty can be imposed. Some legal action should be taken against them. Fire extinguishers’ installation must be made compulsory. Those playing with human lives for sake of money should be put behind bars. The government should come up with a law against such PG owners.
Abhilasha Gupta, Mohali
Fire, safety norms not enforced
Fire and safety norms are not being enforced by the government authorities in the tricity neither at completion certificate stage nor later for houses and buildings. Residents, users or public are not supposed to know and ensure fire and safety precautions and norms essential in buildings and public places. It is the primary duty and responsibility of the governments to provide natural safety environment everywhere in areas in their control. Now, buildings and houses are built with higher floors or cantilevers without or proper railings and grills. Any child can climb and fall. As per the safety norms, railing and grills must be high enough and vertical so that a child cannot climb and fall. Accidents, fires and casualties can be reduced by enforcement of necessary safety norms.
Ashok Kumar Goel, Panchkula
Punish those responsible for lapses
It is strange, sad and shocking that despite so many cases of fire in buildings, owners continue to defy fire safety norms by bribing the officials concerned. And the result is always dreadful. You just need to push money into the pockets of the officials concerned and get what you want to have. All those responsible for lapses should be identified and severely punished.
Rk Kapoor, Chandigarh
Ban all PGs in tricity
The Chandigarh Administration has not been able to take any strict action against the PG business in the tricity. The PG owners are making money illegally as they are running the services illegally. Also, due to dearth of hostel facilities, the menace is growing day by day in Chandigarh. Ban all illegal PGs and open hostels to avoid such incidents in the future.
Vijay Malia, Chandigarh
Safety in PGs must be ensured
The guidelines set by the UT Estate Office clearly state that a PG facility can operate only in a house with an area of at least 7.5 marla. It is compulsory to get it registered and thereafter pay commercial rates for water and electricity. The authorities should check all PGs and penalise the violators.
Sanjay Chopra, Mohali
There should be a proper record of all private accomodations for the safety of students. The police need to check these accommodations in every 1-2 months, otherwise many more such incidents will take place. Owners are playing with the lives of students just to mint money.
Sachin poonia, leader, ABVP , DAV college
All PG owners should maintain an attendance register, minimum size of the house may be decided for the opening of a PG. Both landlords and paying guests should register online and a smart card should be issued to registered PGs. Hostel facility should be made mandatory for big educational institutes.
RK Garg, chief, Second Innings Association
The City Beautiful is on the verge of being stripped of its reputation for being an ‘educational hub’ and that’s because city colleges that don’t have hostels admit a large number of students for maximum profit. The PGs, to make a quick buck, are overpopulated with children. Hail, the era of free-market capitalism in education.
Deepika Kaur Rathore, an HR Executive
The city has many unregistered PGs where students are compromising with hygiene, privacy and safety. The UT Administration must make sure that all PG units take steps for the students’ safety. Also, it should take steps regarding building of new hostels for students.
Ajay sood, Seceratry, ABVP, Chandigarh
The UT Admn should bring into effect mandatory registration and annual renewal after physical inspection of PG facility. Area councillor should be made part of Estate Office inspection teams. Wooden partitions and covering of backyards and balconies should be made illegal.
Vikas Jain, Advocate