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Monday, April 06, 2020

Chandigarh PG fire: Rs 8 per sq ft — all you need pay to get away after putting young lives at stake

A large number of PG facilities are located around colleges, Panjab University and house students who are unable to get hostel accommodation.

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh | Published: February 24, 2020 2:05:34 am
Chandigarh PG fire, Chandigarh fire, illegal PG facility, chandigarh news, indian express news The eyewitnesses of the incident outside the Sector 32 PG in Chandigarh on Sunday. (Photo: Jasbir Malhi)

Rs 8 per sq ft — that’s all you need to pay as penalty to get away with a violation of building norms at a paying guest facility.

Chandigarh Newsline analysed a specific notice sent to a PG owner in Sector 36 in December last year. The owner, who had misused 480 sq ft and 570 sq ft on two separate floors to run a PG accommodation, was fined mere Rs 3,840 per month and Rs 4560 per month, for the respective floors with two months’ time allotted to take corrective steps. Each occupant — the facility housed 25 — was being charged Rs 12,500 per month, which adds up to Rs 3.12 lakh. But the total penalty just came to Rs 8400 per month.

But interestingly, the notice sent out to the owner by the SDM said that he should either remove the violation within two months or continue pay penal charges, which are only Rs 8 per square feet if the use is commercial and Rs 10 per square feet if the use is industrial.

This notice, sent in December 2019 to the owner of a house in Sector 36, read: “It has come to the notice of the undersigned that the aforesaid site is being used for the purpose other than for which it was allotted…on the first floor, three rooms are being used for paying guest accommodation by 8 girls and misused area is approximately 480 per sq ft. On second floor, four rooms are being used for paying guest accommodation by 10 girls and here misuse area is approximately 570 sq ft.”

The order further stated: “Now, therefore the undersigned by virtue of the power conferred upon under rule 10 of the Estate office 2007 as amended in 2016, hereby direct the allottees and the occupiers of the site to remove the misuse forthwith not later than two months for which the misuse charges shall be levied upon at the rate mentioned of the area under misuse which shall be borne by the transferres and the occupiers every month or part thereof for which misuse occurs…rate of penalty is Rs 8 per square feet.”

100 notices, no action

The UT administration claims that in the last six months 100 notices were sent to house owners who were running PGs illegally in the city. But little has changed on the ground since. The reason, UT Administration officials say, is that in every case the owner is first given a chance of a ‘personal hearing’. Then quasi-judicial proceedings go on in the SDM court. Often the owner pleads that he has removed the violation and gets away after paying penal charges. But no one rechecks to see if the owner has removed the violation.

Most of the owners come up with various ways to circumvent the rules, one of which is a rent agreement saying that the occupants are their tenants. The owners avoid getting the PG registered as then they have to pay the commercial charges for water and power tariff.

A large number of PG facilities are located around colleges, Panjab University and house students who are unable to get hostel accommodation.

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