By : M.S.Yatnatti Editor and Video Journalist Bengaluru : Over 30,000 businesses could face the heat as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will start issuing notices this week to weed out shops, bars and pubs that have come up in residential areas across the city. The city has about 18.9 lakh properties. The civic agency estimates that about 88,350 properties have been declared commercial. However, only 50,000 of them have trade licences. "This means that approximately 38,350 of them are not authorised,” .Residents' associations which have been waging a long battle against commercialisation of their areas are pinning their hopes on the outcome of this exercise. "The number of other issues that the city faces, such as noise and air pollution, parking and garbage problems in residential areas, are because of this one problem (commercialisation). The High Court on, February 19th, 2014, disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (WP 3676/2008) filed by Citizen Action Forum (CAF) and a few other civic groups in Bengaluru, that challenged the Draft Revised Master Plan (RMP) - 2015, prepared by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), that allowed commercial use of residential areas, through a land use category called "mixed residential." A division bench comprising Chief Justice DH Waghela and Justice BV Nagarathna issued a direction to the State government to amend the land use change rules of the BDA's Revised Master Plan to allow only the ancillary use of residential properties, instead of allowing land use change for commercial use.Then how come BBMP is allowing Converting residential homes into a PG accommodation - the rules Remember, the following is inevitable when you convert your house into a PG Accommodation.Your home will be treated as commercial property once you convert it into a PG accommodation. You'll need to pay all your bills including electricity, water and taxes at commercial rates. Will BBMP cancel the trade licenses it has issued forPG Accommodation in residential areas is the moot question as recently it has issued a public notice that commercial activities will not be allowed in residential areas. In October 2013, Then 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. As per the court ruling blocking all the trades dated 13/12/2012 in writ petition 3676/2008 Traders who have been issued license after 25/01/2012, running their business in residential area as classified by Bangalore Development authority CDP plan 2015 shall not be eligible for renewal process.Unauthorized 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 accommodations 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.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"As of today there are 587 PG accommodations in the city, out of which 141 have trade license while rest 446 are unauthorized.” BBMP Official says that PG accommodations are supposed to inform local police station. 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 unauthorized 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 accommodations 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. 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. that your PG owner has your emergency numbers. Reportedly former City police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar had said: "The police will seek government intervention or issue an order to all PG accommodations in the city to seek license from the civic authorities and improve security around the building, to improve security for women occupants. We'll also ask the owners to install surveillance cameras and follow government guidelines in this regard.''.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.