Who has forgotten the incident that took place recently, in which a man burgled in to a paying guest facility and raped a 25-year-old techie? Naturally everyone is worried about the safety of their own PG facilities.
When something goes wrong, police are the ones to protect people. But here’s the shocker for you: Bengaluru police doesn’t have a list of paying guest facilities in the city. And the city administration body, BBMP too doesn’t have a list of authorised PGs readily available online.
In one of the reports, police officers said that it was not for the first time that such case was reported. Seven such cases had come up in the last year, but police couldn’t file the case as the victims refused to lodge a complaint. But the police haven’t taken any steps yet. to get the PGs into the safety net.
More and more start ups and IT companies flourishing in the city, prestigious education institutions that offer quality medical and engineering courses etc have attracted lakhs of migrants to the city over the years. Some of these who stay for a short period or have limited finances, prefer staying as paying guests.
In October 2013, BBMP councillor N R Ramesh had presented a statistics in the council, which put the number of PG facilities at a whopping 8000, while the licensed ones were only 272. It was in one such unauthorised PG that the above incident took place.
What does authorised PG mean?
Unauthorised PG facilities are the ones not registered with either BBMP or the police, hence not obligated to provide security to the inhabitants. There is no monitoring done by any agency on such PG facilities.
Under Schedule 10 part II of the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976, PG accomodations are supposed to procure trade license from BBMP Health Department. License fee varies with the number of rooms that the accommodation has. Even the PG accomodations having less than 10 rooms are supposed to have license.
Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976 mandates trade license to be displayed in the paying guest facility premises. If you don’t find a trade license displayed, you can ask the owner to show it to them. You may also check for trade license with the three zonal designated BBMP Health Officers of South, East and West who are in charge of issuing license for each of these zones. Their numbers are available on BBMP website if anyone wishes to enquire with them.
However, even then if you don’t find the licence details, it is possible that the facility may be one of those unregistered ones.
The numbers to call in case your PG is unregistered
BBMP Joint Commissioner Yatish Kumar (Health and Solid Waste Management): 08022975591
BBMP Chief Health Officer Dr. Vatsala : 22248363
South Health Officer: 28510864
East Health Officer: 88975850
West health officer: 22975650
No list of authorised PGs available publicly
BBMP Health Department is responsible for hygiene and housing conditions while Police Department is responsible for safety. According to BBMP Health Officer Dr. Vatsala, “As of today there are 587 PG accomodations in the city, out of which 141 have trade license while rest 446 are unauthorised.”
Dr. Vatsala says that PG accomodations are supposed to inform local police station. When Citizen Matters checked with senior police officers and police commissioners, it came to light that there was no such rule, hence police do not register PG accomodations. BBMP too as of now doesn’t have any information available online regarding the list of authorised PGs.
As PG accommodations are considered as commercial activities, they need to pay commercial rates for water tax and electricity supply. After a huge chaos in the BBMP Council meeting in October 2013, BBMP is planning to collect commercial tax from PGAs. As of now they are considered as residential properties and pay residential property tax.
If one fails to procure trade license or renewal of license, the owner has to pay penalty as per the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act. Continuous failure to procure license may lead to closure or sealing of the premises. However, all these rules are available only in books, while in reality unauthorised PGs continue to flourish.
When basic housing facilities such as the provision of water and electricity are not given by any PG owner, one can complain to the BBMP Health Department. In such cases the tenant can even drag the owner to the court, when he/she has the proof of paying the rent regularly. This will also bring to light the irregularities on part of the PG owner, if any.
How should a PG ensure safety?
PG owners are responsible for safety of their people. They are answerable to local police officials. There are special rules for the safety of PG accomodations as per police guidelines. At the time of emergency, anyone can contact them. They are expected to be present in five minutes.
On the direction of City Police Commissioner for safety of PG occupants, PG owners have been asked to keep a photocopy of photo identity card and a separate form that has personal details of the occupant. Name of the occupant, date of birth, age, home town, office address and contact number, emergency contact numbers etc will be collected through this form.
PGs are advised to keep a full-time security guard and a CCTV camera outside the gate entrance and inside the premises. This will help police at the time of investigations, when something goes wrong. They are also advised to keep a register of all the visitors to the PG, including everybody from milk man or maid to friends of the occupants. However, none of these are mandatory, hence no PG is obliged to follow it.
After the rape case of a techie, Bangalore Police Commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar has taken the matter seriously. The police are in the process of drafting a set of safety rules for the PG accomodations.
What can you do if PG owner is not following rules?
At present there is no particular redressal system. If you have issues with housing like water, electricity, comfortability of rooms then you can complain it to your area designated Health Inspectors or officers.
In case of failure in taking safety precautions, first make an attempt to personally convince the PG owner to set it up. You can also can take the help of police to enforce the precautionary measures.
What precautions should I take when I’m living in a PG?
- You can introduce your friend who visits you regularly, to your PG owner and your PG friends. This will help them get acquainted with them and to be alert if a new face is spotted.
- Inform beforehand to your PG owner if any of your friend is going to meet you, so that they know who is expected to come.
- Ensure that your PG owner has your emergency numbers.
- Do not throw keys carelessly.
- Ask your friends to accompany you if you want to travel during late night hours.
- Always be ready to make noise, so that others can come to your rescue.
It might be police’s responsibility to ensure public safety but it is better to take your own precautions.