Charity seems to begin and end at home only with the managements of community halls (bhawans) built in the city.
Despite allotment of land to them at high concession by the UT administration, managements of these halls offer discounts ranging from 25 to 50% to people belonging to their own community only. Others requiring their premises for social and religious functions are allegedly made to pay exorbitant charges, ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 46,000.
Most community-based bhawans also offer heavy discounts on rooms available on their premises to people belonging to their own caste/community but charge exorbitant rates from others.
The UT administration had allotted land at prices that were 40 to 50% below the market rates for building nearly 35 halls of various communities in Chandigarh.
On the other hand, the UT officials claimed that these bhawans could not host commercial functions and that notices have already been issued for "misuse" of the premises and even heavy penalties imposed on them.
Posing as a member of the Khukhrain community, this correspondent contacted Sector-35 Khukhrain Bhawan manager Rajesh Sethi about the discount for holding a marriage function on the premises. "The charges are Rs 46,000, but if you are from the Khukhrain community, you will get 50% discount; however, you will have to produce your identify card to prove it," he said.
Similarly, president of Sood Bhawan in Sector 44, RK Bhardwaj, said, "We charge Rs 15,000 from anyone who wishes to hold functions on our premises. But we give a discount of 25% to members of the Sood community, provided he proves the same."
When contacted, manager of Ramgarhia Bhawan in Sector 27, Avatar Singh said, "We only give discounts to those from the Ramgarhia community. We charge only Rs 11,000 from them for holding functions, whereas we charge Rs 16,000 from all others."
Asked why this difference in charges, he maintained, "The Bhawan was built for our own community's use only and giving discount to its members is but obvious."
UT finance secretary VK Singh said, "The UT administration had allotted the land to these bhawans under the category of charitable societies. They can use the premises only for charitable purposes and not for any commercial activity. If they are doing so, it is totally illegal. Also, we have already issued show cause notices to some of bhawans for holding commercial functions."
Nominal charges at MC community centres
The community centres under the municipal corporation of Chandigarh in different sectors charge Rs 10,000 as booking charges for air-conditioned facility and only Rs 5,000 for centres without AC facility for holding marriage functions. For short meetings and kitty parties up to a few hours, the charges are Rs 1,000.
City residents with any proof of residence are eligible to get membership of the community centre in their sector. In case there is no community centre in their sector, they can become members of the community centre in the adjoining sector. They are charged Rs 1,000 annually for this.
Booking of MC community centres
For booking of MC community centres and open spaces for holding functions, city residents can contact official concerned at 0172-5021630