BENGALURU: Three days after a software engineer was raped at a knife-point in her paying guest accommodation in the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has woken up to a lack of safety and other illegalities dogging such facilities.
Joint commissioners of all eight zones of the city have been directed to conduct a drive to identify illegal paying guest accommodation facilities (i.e. those without licence from the civic body) and those not adhering to safety norms.
Sarfaraz Khan, joint commissioner (health), BBMP, told TOI that medical officers in all 198 wards will check the status of PG facilities in their jurisdiction. "In the past few years, many such facilities cropped up in the city, and most of them are located in outer zones of BBMP like Mahadevapura, Bommanahalli and South Zone. We have also found that many such facilities are run by people from Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. First, we want all of them to come under the licence regime so they are on our radar," he added.
Khan also said they have simplified licence approvals by making it an online affair. "All PG owners have to do is answer whether the proposal for accommodation is within the permitted area, give a copy of the electricity bill, rental agreement in case of rented buildings, sale deed in case of own building, and meet other requirements framed to provide the license," he explained.
How many PGs in the city?
Though the BBMP council passed a resolution to bring PG homes that host more than 12 people under its licensing process in 2013, neither civic officials nor police have a clear picture on the number of such facilities operating in the city.
As per police records, there are about 1,300 PGs in the city but BBMP's official estimates put it above 1,500. However, sources in the civic body said there could be around 8,000 PGs but many of them have not come under the licence ambit after 2013 when BBMP brought in a rule to tax them on par with commercial buildings. Indiranagar, Marathahalli, Jayanagar, BTM Layout and Electronics City are some areas where such facilities are in a huge number, sources added.
Urban expert ASK Pani said non-coordination between the civic body and police department is the reason behind a lack of information and monitoring when it comes to PGs. "Following a council ruling in the year 2013, a similar drive to map PGs was to happen. However, there has been no progress on it," he added.