THE SUB-DIVISIONAL Magistrate of each division is tasked with ensuring that no illegal paying guest accommodation is running in their jurisdiction. So, when was the last time the SDMs in the city inspected a PG accommodation in their jurisdiction?
Newsline posed this question to all three of them and received almost the same response: “Don’t remember” and “not really”. It appears that despite the explosion of PG facilities in the city and media reports detailing the cramped and unsafe conditions of their occupants, none of these officers had thought fit to visit any such premises.
Two days after three young lives were snuffed out by a fire in a PG accommodation, no one had been held to account for their deaths.
SDM (South) S K Jain, when asked when was the last time he inspected a PG, responded: “Maine to abhi ek hi week pehle join kiya hai, to main to bata hi nahi sakta ki pehle wale ne kab visit kiya ya check kiya koi PG. Aur yeh checking neeche wale karte hain (I just joined as SDM a week back so I won’t be able to tell whether my predecessor visited or checked any PG. Also, this checking is done by the lower staff).”
The illegal PG where three lives were lost falls within the jurisdiction of Jain’s sub-division. For an SDM it requires just one hour to clean up the illegal PG mess in localities which are full of PGs and Jain still had one week’s time when he joined as SDM.
SDM (Central) Nazuk Kumar’s response to Newsline query was quite similar. “I don’t remember when was the last time but we keep doing inspections. It is a regular procedure, basically an ongoing process.”
When asked specifically when she had personally inspected a PG, she said, “No, I didn’t do it. In fact, it is not really our job. Inspectors do it.” The SDM added that now teams have been constituted and “we have started inspections”. There are only 15 illegal PG cases in her court even though there are hundreds running in the city.
SDM (East) Sudhanshu Gautam, when quizzed, replied: “No, I didn’t personally inspect a PG but beat officials carry out the check. They inspect and we undertake the court proceedings.”
Gautam said he held a meeting with residents’ welfare associations on Monday so that they could tip him off about illegal PGs. He said 30 cases are pending in his court of which there are some that are two to three years old but penalties have been calculated.
Residents said SDMs must inspect PGs to check whether lower officials were really doing their work.
“If these officers want, they can clean up the mess in an hour. Just one hour is required. But they don’t care whether norms are being violated. They just want to enjoy signing the files in air-conditioned offices,” griped Baljinder Bittu, chairman of Federation of Sectors Welfare Association.
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