Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, February 23
It seems a Sector 32-like tragedy is waiting to happen in several other paying guest (PG) accommodations in the city in the absence of any check on violations by the authorities concerned.
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- Those who jumped out, survived
- Building violations galore, authorities turn blind eye
During a random visit to various PGs here today, Chandigarh Tribune found students putting up in small cabins with no ventilation. Besides, there were a number of violations of building bylaws and fire-safety norms, putting the lives of the occupants in danger while satiating the owners' greed for money.
In Sector 21, several PGs had as many as 70 persons each. At one such place, a hall was divided into four small rooms using fibre and wooden partitions. Further, cabins were built inside these small rooms. Two to three students were stuffed in a single room. Even balconies were covered. Beds were placed in stores and the kitchen at some places. Some rooms had dormitory-style beds. Toilets were dirty and unhygienic conditions prevailed at many places. The PG owners charge Rs 5,000-7,000, excluding food, per bed.
“PGs are run not only from kothis but from flats too. Students have to put up at a place with no ventilation and separate entry or exit point. The authorities should ensure that only owners, not operators, run PGs and follow all norms,” said Baljinder Singh Bittu, chairman, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations Chandigarh and Sector 21 resident. Sector 15, which has several educational institutes nearby, has the most-expensive PGs in the city.
Every third house has a PG here. The cost ranges between Rs 7,500 and Rs 15,000. At most PG accommodations, three to four beds are placed in a 9’X10’ room.
“Those who operate PGs offer about Rs 1 lakh per month rent to the house owner. The latter finds it better to stay in a rented accommodation outside for Rs 20,000-30,000 a month. The operator later indulges in all kind of violations to make money at the cost of occupants’ lives. The PGs are given on a per bed basis,” said a local resident.
Former councillor Saurabh Joshi, said, “This ‘menace’ must stop. The authorities have issued only 100-200 notices to PG accommodations in the city. However, there are about 2,500 PGs only in our sector. Instead of issuing notice, the authorities should inspect the PGs and take action against the violators on the spot.” Several areas, including Sector 22, 32, 34, 35 and 36, have a large number of PG accommodations in the city. Jasbir Singh, a resident of Sector 33-C, said, “In our locality, 16 boys are putting up in a single storey (flat) in our neighbourhood. Today, we called up the police as the Sector 32-like tragedy can take place here too. There are cardboard and wooden partitions in the fungus-ridden flat.
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