: Renting out a building can be a tricky preposition, as M. Shajeem has realised over the past few years.
Mr. Shajeem, a resident of Vazhimukku in Balaramapuram, had rented out a portion of his two-storey building to Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. in 1999.
As the periodic renewal of rental rates agreed to by the telecom utility did not meet the existing market rates, Mr. Shajeem asked the BSNL to vacate the premises. This was in 2010, when the rental agreement expired. However, three years hence, the building is yet to be handed over to him.
Mr. Shajeem said the response by BSNL to his repeated pleas was lukewarm. The utility operated a junior telecom office (JTO) and a sub divisional engineer (SDE) office in two floors of the office. The lease agreement for the first floor, for the SDE office, was not renewed after October 2010, but the office continued to function there till August 2012. When Mr. Shajeem refused to renew the agreement, the SDE office was shifted from the building. But, the keys were not handed over to him.
“When I went to get the keys, I was surprised to find that the JTO was instead shifted from the ground floor to the first floor, without even informing me.
“This is tantamount to trespassing. I had been living in a rented house at Poojapura and wanted to shift to Balaramapuram, where I run a shop,” he said.
Mr. Shajeem filed a plea under the Right To Information Act and found that the BSNL top brass had, in fact, issued orders to shift the JTO from the first floor to the ground floor before December 31, 2012. That too had not been done.
“And again, there was no word on when or whether they would move out completely. I do not have the financial means to move the court. “In fact, when I said I would take legal action, one of the officials told me to go ahead, since the case was likely to go on for years and I would never get my building back,” he said.
When contacted, officials at the office of the Principal General Manager, Thiruvananthapuram Telecom District here told The Hindu that the ‘shifting was in progress’ and that the Nigam had decided to shift the JTO along with the Balaramapuram exchange.
Efforts were on to find new premises, which would take some time, they said.