It is one of the chief markers of Chandigarh’s social life, but on the legal front the business of paying guest accommodation remains unregulated.
This is clear from the fact that of the around 3,000 PG houses in the city, only 12 are registered. In Panchkula, the officials estimated the number at around 200, of which none is formally registered. For SAS Nagar, the figure is 10 out of 1,000. PG house owners blame the “tedious process”. President of the Welfare Association, Sector 15, Surender Sharma says, “The administration is least interested in registration of PGs. We have to get the building plan cleared, take various other permissions.”
But authorities say owners avoid registration as that would result in imposition of higher, commercial charges for water and electricity. As even smaller have rented out PG rooms, this results in parking chaos and even law and order issues. Some residents’ associations have voiced their concern on mushrooming of PGs in residential areas, but the administration has not been strict. A reason that the authorities cite is “safety of the students staying in PG houses”; they say that if they crack down the dwellers would be rendered homeless which would lead to a huge problem.
As per guidelines, owners are supposed to get a form filled from the tenants and give a copy to the area police station for verification. But in most cases it’s not done; and in many cases the owners get formalities completed from the PG but do not hand over the papers to the police or authorities concerned. The terms and conditions also say that in case of a breach the administration can issue a notice for stopping the facility and also pass an order of resumption/cancellation of the allotment of the site. Fine can be imposed too.
While Panchkula goes by no particular policy on PGs and only follows given building laws for now, in SAS Nagar, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) decided in 2007 to allow residents to run PG services from residential areas. The decision invited opposition from many residents’ welfare associations, which said the policy was in violation of GMADA’s earlier policy of not allowing commercial activity from residential areas.
The GMADA did crack down on some unregistered PGs two years ago but the drive continued for only about two months and then lost steam.
“In many cases, owners are not staying within the house, and there are just a few PGs registered. Legally, if a PG has not done any paperwork, he/she cannot hold the owner responsible for anything. In case of a mishap, there is no record with the police to prove that a person was staying in the specific PG at all,” says Ranjivan Singh, advocate from SAS Nagar.