Ranchi Municipal Corporation seems to have no concrete plan to stop mushrooming of illegal hostels in the state capital or shut down those operating without licence.
On April 19, the RMC’s chief executive officer Manoj Kumar had formed two teams to scan all temporary paid accommodations in the city. Two days later, it was decided that the teams would inspect only those hostels and lodges that had applied for licence.
Out of 71 such hostels, 44 were probed till May 31. These were scrutinised for compliance of 13 basic mandatory facilities. Only four qualified for licence while the rest were declared “asantoshjanak”. The 40 “dissatisfying” hostels did not fulfil three or more criteria such as presence of firefighting gear, CCTV cameras at the entrance and proper power and water supply.
The civic body was to provide licence to the four hostels that qualified the facility test and put the others under lock and key. But, it never did so. “We cannot speak on that issue because the model code of conduct is in force (owing to the mayoral poll). You are free to ask me after June 23,” CEO Manoj Kumar said.
His statement hints that the RMC still does not have a specific action plan to stop the illegal hostel boom or enforce closure of lodges doing business without permit.
The lens on city lodges was intensified following an NIA raid on Idris Medical Hostel in Bariatu on May 22 after Indian Mujahideen operative and Patna blasts accused Haider Ali confessed to his unlikely frendship with a young doctor, Azaz Hashmi, who stayed there. The ground-floor room of Hashmi had yielded a sizeable cache of detonators, steel elbows, fuse wires, codex, timers, electronic watches and maps.
Sources in the RMC said that since 2011 when the Jharkhand Urban Area Construction and Licensing Rule was framed, it had been publicised through proper channels.
But, in the past three years, no institution has come to the RMC on its own seeking licence unless a deadline was imposed through advertisements, which also warned of legal action.
“However, since no one has been punished till date, people take the rule very lightly,” conceded an RMC official on the condition of anonymity.
On penalty rules for operating without licence, he said: “Licensing of the hostels is applicable under Section 455 of the Jharkhand Municipal Bill 2011. Under Section 459 (not abiding by RMC norms), the penalty for offence is Rs 100 and Rs 10 every day during which the offence is continued from the day of conviction.”
He added that the fine was so paltry that no one bothered to obtain licence.
Neha Kumari, a Gumla native and student of Marwari College in Ranchi, said she had had to change two hostels in two years. “As an intermediate student, I studied at Ranchi Women’s College and stayed at a hostel in Lalpur. But, security was an issue and I shifted to another in Kokar. A part of this hostel housed boys and we girls didn’t feel safe. At present, I stay in a rented house with four other girls.”
Do you know anyone who runs a hostel without licence? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org