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C'wealth games: Delhiites to let out rooms

With an anticipated 30,000 room shortage, the ministry has turned to locals, reports Saurav Sarkar.

india Updated: Jan 14, 2007 17:31 IST

Defence Colony resident Pamela Chauhan is exactly who the Ministry of Tourism and Culture is looking for to solve Delhi's shortage of hotel rooms.

"It's a good idea if you have the space and [get] the right people," said Chauhan, on why she's thinking about letting out her home's extra room as part of the Ministry's Bed and Breakfast scheme for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010.

With an anticipated 30,000 room shortage for the Games and hoteliers facing increasingly pricey auctions from local planning agencies, the ministry has turned to local homeowners.

Delhi's metro-area residents like Chauhan will be able to market themselves on a ministry-sponsored website, set room rates and select visitors. In exchange, they will need to provide parking space, an independent room, boarding, laundry facilities, air conditioning, an iron and an opportunity "to experience Indian customs and traditions and relish authentic Indian cuisine".

The plan has attracted 50 applications and there are already five bed and breakfast stays in Delhi. That number is estimated to inch up to 10,000 rooms by October 2010.

Still, residential property owners are not entirely sold on the programme. Some are worried about residential owners being charged commercial rates for taxation, electricity and other items.

A ministry source, who did not wish to be identified, said it would negotiate with local agencies in charge of electricity and water to ensure that homeowners would not be penalised for participating in the programme, but no changes have come through yet.

A local electricity authority official, who didn't want to be identified said, whether commercial rates will be charged from participants would depend on whether or not the establishment calls itself a guesthouse.

Former Admiral Ranjit Whig, another Defence Colony resident, liked his stay at a Bed and Breakfast in England. But he doesn't want to let his home out. He said the plan will increase the number of strangers hanging about his neighborhood.

He has concerns about the police inspection of his home, which Bed and Breakfast applicants must submit to.

Chauhan, meanwhile, wants, at minimum, some help screening her guests. And that too from the government. But a source in the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, who did not wish to be identified, said it has no current plans to do so.  Chauhan also says she feels it is safer to let out rooms only to women.

The Delhi rollout of the Bed and Breakfast scheme — complete with a radio and television campaign starting on January 15th, is part of a national effort by the Ministry of Tourism.

Email Saurav Sarkar: saurav .srkar@hindustantimes.com