From food quality to security: PG inmates of city narrate some bitter experiences
In spite of the mushroom growth of paying guest (PG) accommodations in Guwahati, they continue to remain unregulated and it’s ultimately the boarders – be it students or working folk - who face a bad experience. Many students and PG residents complain of poor food quality, unhygienic environment, lack of security and a host of other problems in the PGs of the city. And it goes without saying that especially for female students, security is one of the most important criteria while selecting a PG. It seems, however, picking a PG with good security is an arduous task for the students here.
While CCTV cameras still remain a distant dream for PG residents, girls living in various PGs in the city have informed G Plus that their PGs run without a security guard.
“We neither have a strict vigil on what time the girls enter nor is there a guard to restrict boys from entering. The owners make tall promises when students come for admission but invariably fail to keep them,” a resident of a PG located in Zoo Road told G Plus in anonymity.
Guwahati being the gateway to the northeast as well as home to the educational and business hubs of the region, students from all over come here to pursue higher education. With a rise in the student population, there has been a tremendous growth in the number of paying guest and hostel facilities in the city as well.
Students and working professionals who’ve come to Guwahati from other cities and are forced to stay in PGs are the worst sufferers.
G Plus spoke to the residents of a few of the PGs functioning in the city and has found that the conditions are not quite up to the mark.
A resident of Bongaigaon who shifted to Guwahati to undergo a course in company secretary and has been residing in a PG told G Plus, “Food quality is the biggest problem we face – the taste is not up to the mark and the vegetables are watery. Even the milk has more water than milk.”
She further added that while hygiene and cleanliness is a problem, the biggest problem is that the rooms are enclosed by wooden partitions instead of concrete walls. Whenever a new student needs to be accommodated, the owner simply puts a new partition in one of the rooms to make space for her.
In the same vein, another resident of a PG in Kumarpara area said, “PGs in Guwahati are not well maintained. The owners only care for their money and once the students take admission, they face multiple problems. In our PG, the biggest problem is that of dirty water. We face the same problem every few days when dirty water starts coming out of the taps. You close your eyes to wash your face and when you open them again, you see that you’ve been using water that is virtually black.”
The average monthly rent for PG accommodation in Guwahati is around Rs 7,000, which includes food and electricity but excludes air-conditioning. While the students pay a hefty amount as rent, they complain of not receiving the services commensurate to the money.
“A month ago, we found insects in the vegetables lying in our kitchen. If that wasn’t enough, we recently found that the ‘ghee’ meant for burning purpose and not for consumption was being used for cooking purpose,” informed a student of Sanskar Boys’ PG located at Chatribari.
He informed G Plus that the students found that the cook was preparing food using ‘Laddoo Shyam Pooja Ghee’ that has 'Not for human consumption purpose' written in block letters.
Speaking to G Plus about the claims, Ankit Agarwal, the owner of the PG said, “Due to miscommunication, the grocery store vendor had sent us the wrong ghee and the cook, being uneducated, used it for cooking for a few days. But as soon as the students informed me, I immediately asked the cook to buy a new carton of cooking ghee. I’ve myself stayed in hostels and PGs so I understand how important good food is for the students and I’d never intentionally bring bad quality products into the kitchen.
The students of the PG also claimed that the PG has LPG cylinders meant for residential use rather than those meant for commercial use. This has created suspicion among the students about whether the PG is registered or not.
“Our PG is only 6 months old (opened in July 2018) and the documents are still in process,” said Agarwal.
Among the oldest PGs running in the city, with proper registration and security, is Deepika’s PG located in Bhangagarh. Yet, the students had certain complaints to make.
While my PG is among some of the better ones, there’s still the problem of food. At least five days a week, the residents are served with potato curry which has become very monotonous to most of the girls and sometimes the food quality is also not up to the mark, said an interior designer who’s been staying at Deepika’s PG for over 6 years now.
The owner of Deepika’s PG, Nirmala Keyal clarified saying, “I’ve been running this PG for over 17 years now and I myself supervise everything – from food to cleanliness. I maintain complete decorum in the PG and there are always two to three varieties of vegetables available for lunch and dinner both. Those who do not like one of the vegetables can have the other.”
“There are problems in almost all of the PGs in the city. PGs can never be compared to our homes no matter what facilities they provide,” a working professional from Goalpara residing in the city said.