Sector 32 fire tragedy: Chandigarh admn wakes up, identifies 17 illegal PGs

Published on Feb 25, 2020 01:13 AM IST

It took a tragedy for the Chandigarh administration to finally look up and take note of the violations being committed by paying guest business owners

Ten unregistered PGs were found in Sector 32, three in Sector 8, four in Sector 7.(Keshav Singh/HT (For representational purposes only))
Ten unregistered PGs were found in Sector 32, three in Sector 8, four in Sector 7.(Keshav Singh/HT (For representational purposes only))
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

The UT administration finally swung into action on Monday, identifying 17 illegal paying guest units in three sectors, two days after three women lost their lives in a blaze at their rented accommodation in Sector 32.

Teams set up under sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) inspected registered and unregistered PG accommodation across the city to check if owners were following norms under the PG policy, after the administration issued orders allowing them to enter such premises.

Ten unregistered PGs were found operating in Sector 32, three in Sector 8 and four in Sector 7.

On the directions of the deputy commissioner Mandip Singh Brar, the SDMs, east, south and central, constituted teams with representatives of the estate office, policemen and patwaris for carrying out inspections in their respective areas.

The teams will submit their reports to the SDMs after which notices will be issued to the defaulting PG owners and action taken against them in accordance with the law.

The DC has directed the SDM to submit reports on the inspections to him within this week.

A survey of unauthorised PG units is being undertaken currently as the administration does not have accurate information. Notices, it has been learnt, will be sent to unauthorised PG unit owners.

COORDINATING WITH RWA AND POLICE

With the estate office and SDMs blaming lack of clarity on rules for poorly regulated PG units, the DC also called for better coordination with resident welfare associations (RWA) and the police.

Following this, the SDM (east) Sudhanshu Gautam held a meeting with the RWA falling within his jurisdiction on Monday.

READ: Three girl students died and two sustained injuries after a fire broke out in an unregistered paying guest facility in Sector 32D, Chandigarh, on Saturday.

SDM (south) and SDM (central) will be holding meetings with the RWAs on Tuesday.

It has been learned that the meetings will help in gathering of data on illegal paying guest establishments.

The SDMs will also be meeting police officials in their areas.

All the tenants are to be registered with the police, which will regularly carry out checks and gather data on the number of tenants in each housing unit. The SSP, Chandigarh, has been directed to share data on unusually high number of tenants/guests with the SDMs concerned and also take independent action against them in accordance with the law.

The estate office will be putting in place a mechanism for speedy registration of all the entities wanting to register their PG accommodation.

On Saturday, a (HT FILE PHOTO)
On Saturday, a (HT FILE PHOTO)

REVISING PAYING GUEST POLICY

PG accommodation owners will have to get registration of their units renewed annually, states a proposal aiming for more clarity and stringency on the PG policy. It was submitted by the DC to the administration for its approval on Monday.

No registrations will be done unless the PG unit owners get a no-objection certificate from the fire department, which is not required currently. Periodic fire department inspections of the units will also be made mandatory.

ESTATE OFFICE HELPLINE

A call centre with the estate office helpline number 1860-1802067 will be set up for citizens to call and submit information on any illegal paying guest facility. Complaints will be sent to the SDMs concerned for action

INDEPENDENT ENFORCEMENT WINGS WITH SDMS

All SDMs will be in charge of independent enforcement wings with inspectors and other support staff. Similarly, the proposal for augmenting enforcement staff in the estate office has also been sent to the administration for approval.

FIRE DEPT SEEKS LIST OF PGS FOR INSPECTION

In the aftermath of Saturday’s Chandigarh fire tragedy at a paying guest (PG) accommodation in Sector 32, the municipal corporation’s fire department has finally decided to intervene.

On Monday, a letter was shot to the UT estate department, seeking a list of registered paying guests for inspections and checking for fire norms, confirmed chief fire officer Anil Garg.

The fire department had been of the view that fire no-objection certificates (NOC) for residential buildings were not applicable since PGs were not officially-declared commercial enterprises.

However, in wake of the Saturday blaze, deputy commissioner Mandip Singh Brar made it clear that the estate department will immediately move a proposal for making fire NOC and periodical fire inspections mandatory in PGs to ensure safety of life and property.

MC TO AMEND FIRE LAWS

After approval from the UT administration, the MC will make necessary changes in its existing fire laws to cover PGs for the purpose of obtaining fire NOCs, which are issued subject to compliance with necessary firesafety norms.

At present, it is mandatory for commercial, institutional and industrial buildings to obtain fire NOCs that are valid for three years from the date of issuance.

Garg said, “Once the list of PGs is received from the UT estate department, we will immediately begin inspection.”

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