Centre evicting artists from government houses

Padma Shri awardee Guru Mayadhar Raut being evicted by Directorate of Estates on Tuesday. His belongings, including the Padma Shri citation, can be seen strewn outside the home. | Photo Credit: Special arrangement 

The Centre on Tuesday began eviction proceedings against eminent artists who had been allotted government accommodation that was cancelled in 2014, starting with 90-year-old Padma Shri awardee and Odissi dancer Guru Mayadhar Raut.

After the Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry issued notices to the artists to vacate the houses in 2020, a group of the allottees, including the late Birju Maharaj, had moved court. Among those allotted houses were artist Jatin Das and santoor player Pandit Bhajan Sopori.

Madhumita Raut, an artist and daughter of Guru Mayadhar Raut, said on Wednesday the artists had lost their case against the eviction on February 25 and had time till April 25 to vacate the houses at the Asian Games Village here. She said the artists had filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court, which was scheduled to be heard on Wednesday morning.

“The Directorate of Estates knew our appeal was to be heard on Wednesday so they came with their staff and police to forcibly throw out our belongings on Tuesday. They came at 1 p.m. and I was serving lunch to my father. I appealed to them to allow my father to eat but they did not allow it,” she said.

Ms. Raut said she was in the process of emptying out the house on Wednesday and moving her father to a student’s house as a temporary measure while awaiting the court’s decision. The house was allotted to her father over 25 years ago, she said.

‘Inhumane manner’

“I don’t mind if they evict, but the way in which it was done was inhumane. The houses were allotted to artists who work with the guru-shishya tradition and don’t care for commercial interests. Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to take care of Padma awardees?” she said.

Vanashree Rao, wife of Kuchipudi dancer Guru Jayarama Rao, who was allotted a house in the Asian Games Village in 1987, said the artists were awaiting the court’s decision on their appeal and that so far Mr. Raut was the only one of the group to be evicted.

In November 2020, the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation decided to waive damage charges accumulated by 27 artists, a total of ₹32.09 crore, for overstaying at the allotted houses beyond 2014 and gave them time till December 31 that year to vacate.

According to the government’s policy, up to 40 artists can be allotted accommodation under a special quota in the General Pool Residential Accommodation on the recommendation of the Culture Ministry if they earned under ₹20,000 a month.

A Directorate of Estates official said the evictions would continue as the court did not give the artists relief on Wednesday. The official said that out of 28 artists who had been allotted houses, 17 had moved out over the years and after receiving notices. Eviction proceedings would be carried out against the others within a week, the official said. 

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Printable version | Apr 28, 2022 12:15:24 am |