Canary Hill in Hazaribagh, where a college student was raped earlier this month
Hazaribagh Municipal Board has identified 260 flats, which illegally double up as lodges to accommodate outstation students and young professionals, and slapped notices on owners asking them to register their property within a month.
The action follows the Canary Hill rape of a college student who was a native of Bokaro and lived in one of these shady lodges.
Special municipal officer Ajay Sao said he had deployed a team of clerks to identify flats that functioned as lodges in all the 32 wards of the town. “The owners have been asked to get their registration as lodges done within a month. Defaulters will have to face legal action,” he added.
Sao conceded that the Canary Hill incident was playing a crucial role behind this campaign against illegal lodges.
On May 5, the undergraduate student, who hails from Dugda in Bokaro, was raped at the tourist hot spot by her boyfriend and later attacked by his three friends. To escape the trio, the girl jumped off the 375ft hill, but luckily survived being caught between rocks and trees 80ft above ground.
During the course of investigation it was found that the 20-year-old was a tenant in a flat in the Krishnapuri neighbourhood of Hazaribagh town that allows a student to stay for a monthly rent of Rs 1,000.
Apart from students, many young professionals also prefer to stay in these cheap lodges, which charge between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 a month. The owners earn good money from rent, but pay no taxes to the municipal board.
Incidentally, Hazaribagh town had hit the headlines in 2002 when two terrorists were killed in its Kheergaon locality. They were staying in a rented flat. After the incident, the administration had made registration mandatory. However, the drive failed to take off.
Municipal sources said the new registration drive would help them keep tabs on illegal lodges and also boost revenue.
The fresh registration amounts have been fixed. While lodges with one to 10 beds will have to shell out Rs 1,000 annually, those with 11 to 20 beds will have to pay Rs 1,500.
The charge for bigger lodges (21 to 50 beds) is Rs 1,875 and that for those with more than 50 beds is Rs 2,500 a year.