PG accommodation: Precious lives lost, but who cares?

Estate Office sleeps as illegal PGs mushroom in city, has no official count

Sandeep Rana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23

Even as three innocent girls lost their lives in an illegal paying guest (PG) accommodation here yesterday, leave alone taking any action, the UT Estate Office does not even know how many registered and unauthorised PGs exist in the city.

Even as there is widespread anger among people over the tragic incident and violations in illegal PGs, which are mushrooming, the Estate Office seems to have failed to take the matter seriously.

Speaking to Chandigarh Tribune, Manish Kumar Lohan, Assistant Estate Officer, said, “We do not have compiled data of the total number of registered or unregistered PGs in the city. It is with different divisions; we will have to compile it to know the total number. We will now find out and. if need be, order a fresh survey. We will also involve other wings of the Estate Office for identification."

Even as illegal PGs are running openly near educational institutes in Chandigarh, the Estate Office "wants people to bring all this to its knowledge". “The RWAs or the public should bring to our knowledge where all such PGs are operating,” Lohan said. Interestingly, residents have often complained about issues involving PGs in the city, but action has never been taken.

He said they would request the SDMs concerned to expedite the process of deciding the cases of 100 PGs, who were earlier served notices. The cases are pending in SDM courts. With no records available, not even a single

PG has obtained an no-objection certificate from the Fire Department despite running commercial activities. “There could be around 1,000 PGs in Chandigarh. There are hardly any registered ones. It is shocking to learn that those who are supposed to keep the record and ensure that these operate properly are ignorant about it. They should involve residents to set things right,” said Baljinder Singh Bittu, chairman, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations Chandigarh (FOSWAC).

SDM finds violations

SDM (South) SK Jain, who has been tasked with conducting a probe into the matter, said on Sunday that prima facie, violations had come to light.

"I am yet to prepare a report, but prima facie it appears the owner did not have a permit to run the PG. There are certain building violations too. I will soon compile the report and submit it to my seniors. They will decide what action has to be taken," he told Chandigarh Tribune. In the evening, the SDM visited the spot.

Bachon ko dhyan rakhna chahiye, says Mayor

Mayor Raj Bala Malik

Chandigarh: Mayor Raj Bala Malik has courted another controversy. A few days after she said she had not seen any broken road in the city, the Mayor on Sunday said, “Bachon ko dhyan rakhna chahiye. Parents should also see to it. People should think of it.” She was replying to a query posed by mediapersons regarding the fire tragedy at a PG accommodation in Sector 32 in which three girls lost their lives. When she was told there was no check on illegal PGs and no action had been taken by the officials concerned, she added, “There was no safety, but there was no such intention. Verification cannot douse flames. It was unintentional.” She was speaking to reporters after a FOSWAC meeting in Sector 44 here on Sunday. When Chandigarh Tribune contacted her, she said, “I did not say so. What I meant was that parents should not opt for PGs that are in such a bad state. In fact, I want such illegal PGs to shut down.” TNS


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