Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 1
With an iron-handed resolve to discipline the egregiously run paying guest (PG) businesses in the city, the UT Administration’s attempt to streamline the PG rules and regulations, by the way of arbitrarily slapping notices on several rental accommodations, has sparked a furore.
Back in the quiet neighbourhood of Sector 32-D, where an unfortunate inferno at an illegal PG house claimed the life of three girls more than a week ago, the administration’s Estate Office has issued notices not just to the PG owners, but also to those who have inked a rent agreement with their tenants. Even though most of the PG businesses across the city, and not just in Sector 32 alone, have been packed up, residents are nonplussed by the administration’s ad-hoc measures. Some have alleged that the notices have been served on a ‘pick-and-choose’ basis, even when there are no evident irregularities, while others have accused the administration of being “downright uncouth” to the owners and inmates while sealing the PG accommodations. The residents fumed over ‘the administration’s sweet temper for those running PG and rental services in accommodations measuring 10 marlas and above’.
On receiving a call from a group of students residing in Sector 32, who informed this correspondent about their landlords asking them to vacate the house they had been living in for a year now, this reporter reached the spot at the given address. Across the road, an old, feeble man, sitting in a park, inquired about the purpose of visit. “Nai, aaj kal estate office wale aare hai, tabhi poocha. They are on a roll! Hamara PG bhi nahi hai, still they have issued us a notice. Go on, meet your friends,” he said. The top floor of the building, which had no apparent illegal construction whatsoever, housed about four PGs in two rooms. “We entered into a rent agreement about a year ago,” the students shared. Downstairs, the owner shared his worries with neighbourhood men. “See, we have got the police verification done. All papers are in place, but as an old man, I cannot take the administration by its horns. So, we have asked the kids to leave. Is umar mein stress nahi lia jaata,” he rues.
This is the story of just one home in the House No 3800-onwards series of Sector 32-D.
The administration’s officials issued a notice to the owners of another house in the area where a family of four resided on the first floor. The owner said, “This family has been staying here for long; we have signed a rent deed with them. Also, there is no illegal construction upstairs. Yet, they have issued a notice to us.”
Such was the fear of the administration that none of the residents came on record to share their concerns.
What does the notice say?
Stating that the site was governed by the “Chandigarh Sale of site and Building Rules, 1960/Chandigarh Leasehold of site and Building Rules, 1973 and the Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952,” the notice reads the site was being used for the purpose other than for which it was allotted. A two-month ultimatum has been given to the residents, lest they will have to pay a fine on a per-day basis.
“The Chandigarh Administration has laid the rules called Chandigarh Estate Rules, 2007, and repealed the Chandigarh Sale of site and Building Rules, 1960 and the Chandigarh Leasehold of Sites and Building Rules 1973. Whereas by virtue of the saving clause provided in the Chandigarh Estate Rules, 2007, the sites allotted under the erstwhile rules shall now be governed by the corresponding provisions contained under Rule 9 of the Chandigarh Estate Rules, 2007.”
Will meet DC, says RAW-32
Raminder Singh Kaura, president of Sector-32 Residents Welfare Association, who had an hour-long meeting with FOSWAC’s chairperson Baljinder Singh Bittu, said: “We will be meeting the DC in a day or two. The residents are anguished by the administration’s bias; notices were served on people on a pick-and-choose basis. An official who sealed a PG here was very impolite. He entered the PG where an old woman and her daughter-in-law resided. The doors of PGs were locked and they weren’t even allowed to pick up their belongings. Those who were well connected have been spared while the others who have rental deeds are being targeted.”
Another resident, showing his house’s 1977 lease deed, said: “The PGs in the series starting from H.No. 3800 onwards measure seven and a half marla, which is a permissible area for running a PG service. However, they shut down the PGs stating that the houses measured a little less than 7 marlas. None of the PG services run in the 10 marla houses has been shut, nor have they been issued any notices.”
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