Lack of adequate maintenance has resulted in hundreds of government houses becoming inhabitable. The condition is such that these have become a den for anti-social elements. With the houses being unoccupied, doors and windows are broken or have been stolen, giving anyone easy access to these.
A senior officer of the Chandigarh Administration says that nearly 350 houses are inhabitable and will have to be renovated if and when the house allotment committee allots those houses to the employees. In all, there are 13,000 government houses in Chandigarh. Out of these, 7,000 have been allotted and three thousand have been under renovation for the last one year. Another three thousand houses are yet to be checked.
In sectors 22 and 23, the back entrances of the vacant government houses are open. In some houses, there are no gates. The houses are filled with piles of garbage. Though during the regular maintenance fresh floor tiles have been installed, the remaining portion of the houses is vandalised by miscreants over the past few years. There is enormous wildlife growth around these houses.
In Sector 22-A, in front of the market, there is a row of houses which have not been allotted for the last many years. Dr S Vardhan, a professor at the Government College, Sector 46, who lives in Sector 22-A, says, “These houses have been vacant for as long as I have been here. Every now and then we see youngsters going in these houses for substance abuse.”
“We got the wild plantation removed from these houses so that no one can hide here. My house has been burgled twice in the last few years and both times the miscreants came from the rooftop,” says Dr Vardhan.
Many houses in sectors 22, 20 and 33 and other sectors which are in front of the market have been lying vacant for the last many years as the residents face a problem of parking and noise pollution there. Assistant Estate Officer (AEO) Rahul Gupta says, “We are aware of this issue and have taken this up with the architecture department.”
Similar is the condition in Sector 23 where a row of houses under renovation has become a hideout for the miscreants. Anuradha, daughter of the Haryana’s health department superintendent whose house was burgled by some miscreants who left behind a note for the police and the family, says, “Almost each and every house in the locality has been targeted once in the last one year.”
These houses are frequented by the miscreants. If a person enters one house, from the rooftop of that house, he can jump onto the shed which is common for all the houses in that row. The shed can then be used to enter any of the houses. Stolen clothes, bags and other such stuff is dumped on the rooftop of three of the houses which are vacant in a row in Sector 23.
Jagroop Singh, former chief engineer and a resident of Sector 16-A, says, “There are some houses which are lying vacant in this area as well. There is a lot of hooliganism in these houses and we get disturbed. The authorities are informed but they are not doing much about it.”
Gupta says, “Some of the houses are undergoing renovation and others are scheduled to be renovated. I have asked the engineering department to take a look at the houses again and allot the ones which are ready.”
Why have these houses not been locked or guarded? The AEO says, “It was not in my knowledge that these houses are not locked. I will take it up with the engineering department and get the houses locked soon.”