Centre asks 27 eminent artists to vacate govt bungalows

Union Housing ministry asks 27 eminent artists including Birju Maharaj, Jatin Das to vacate govt bungalows

Protesting the Ministry diktat, 27 artists in their joint letter to the government said that it was inhuman to evict them during the pandemic

Kathak Maestro Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has decided to go head with its decision asking 27 eminent artists to vacate government accommodation allotted to them in the national capital, despite an appeal by them to the government to reconsider its order.

The Union Ministry of Housing has issued notices to several prominent artists including Kathak exponent Pandit Birju Maharaj, Dhrupad vocalist Ut Wasifuddin Dagar, Kuchipudi dancer Guru Jayarama Rao, painter and sculptor Jatin Das, iconic Mohiniyattam dancer Bharati Shivaji and Kathak guru Geetanjali Lal, asking them to vacant government houses by December 31.

Protesting the Ministry diktat, 27 artists in their joint letter to the government said that it was inhuman to evict them during the pandemic.

Though the Ministry was well within its rights to vacate their accommodation since most of the artists are aged and made a lot of contribution to society, the government should reconsider its decision, the appeal said.

However, the Housing and Urban Development Ministry is no mood to change its decision. "They have been asked to vacate their houses as they were overstaying in the government accommodation," said an official in the Ministry.

If allottees don't vacate their accommodations by December 31, eviction proceedings would be initiated as per Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, the eviction notice issued to them said.

The government also decided to waive all punitive charges from 2014 to September 30, 2020.

If artists failed to vacate by December 30, they will have to pay their outstanding dues. But if they vacate within the deadline, all their dues will be waived off, said the official.

These accommodations are in posh colonies, including Lodhi Colony, Shahajan Road,  Pandara Road, Asian Games Village, Kaka Nagar, Gulmohar Park and  R K Puram.

 The Ministry in 2014 itself had decided to end the allocation of bungalows under different quotas including artists, sportspersons and journalists.

The Ministry of Culture has 40 residential units under different quotas, some are still staying it despite the government has been asking them to vacate it, said an official in the  Culture Ministry.

According to the Housing Ministry, these artists have found overstaying in government accommodation. Even in some cases, they were overstaying for more than 30 years, paying a nominal licence fee against the limit of stay for six years.