PGs under fire for safety, space concerns, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate

September 29, 2023

<p>File Photo</p>
File Photo

NEW DELHI: In the heart of Mukherjee Nagar in northwest Delhi, the aspirations of countless students converge. But their living conditions in paying guest facilities are far from ideal, with many sharing rooms in buildings with lax fire safety arrangements.

Over the years, Mukherjee Nagar has emerged as a prominent student rental hub owing to its proximity to Delhi University’s North Campus, less than 5km away, and the presence of numerous IAS and coaching institutes. The neighbouring localities of Nehru Vihar, Indra Vihar and Bhai Parmanand Colony too teem with PG hostels.

At one PG hostel in N Block, Mukherjee Nagar, one has to navigate the narrow staircase with a broken railing before stepping into dim rooms where dreams and textbooks vie for space and protruding air conditioning units are a constant reminder of the cramped living conditions.

Wires dangle precariously from the ceilings and some rooms are partitioned with fibreglass and plywood panels. The hostel accommodates 28 residents on three floors, 10 of them being girls living in six rooms.

Resident Neelanjana Singh Parihar, a 28-year-old civil service aspirant from Madhya Pradesh, said, “Electrical wires are haphazardly placed and pose a fire hazard. The fire extinguisher in our PG expired and the owner removed it. Most PGs, especially the older ones, lack fire-fighting gear or emergency evacuation measures.”

Another student, Saheb Ali, revealed, “The electricity bill for our building is around Rs 25,000. But not everything is safe. We often see short circuits in the poles around our building. But if we complain, instead of addressing our concern, the hostel operator simply asks to move out.”

Recalling Wednesday’s fire, Shefali Ahuja, who lives in a nearby building, said, “I was attending classes when the fire broke out. The power was cut and panic ensued. This could happen to us too, but the owner seems more interested in expanding his business than addressing safety concerns,” rued Ahuja.

Arvind Kumar, member of the N Block residents’ welfare association, “The PG hostels often exceed their capacity and the absentee landlords don’t seem to care much about fire safety requirements,” alleged Kumar.

The crowding of people into small rooms is a part of life in the area. Pallavi Yadav, a student from Uttar Pradesh who lives in an Indra Vihar PG hostel, lamented, “We can barely move in our rooms. All we can do is sleep on our single beds or stand or and study. The rooms come with a cooler and a cupboard, but the lack of ventilation is unhealthy for us.”

A hostel owner in Mukherjee Nagar told TOI, “We charge very nominal rents, but we still don’t compromise on the comfort and safety of students. We provide them enough space. There is a fire extinguisher on every floor and we teach the residents how to use them when they join the hostel.”

  • Published On Sep 29, 2023 at 12:00 PM IST

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