Twenty-seven artistes, including eminent names such as Kathak maestro Pandit Birju Maharaj, Mohiniyattam dancer Bharati Shivaji and painter and sculptor Jatin Das, have been asked to vacate by December 31 government accommodations allotted to them in various parts of Delhi.
Union culture minister Prahlad Patel confirming the news told The Indian Express: “They (artistes) have been given time till December 31, 2020, to vacate the houses, failing which, they will have to pay their outstanding dues. But if they vacate within the deadline, all their dues will be waived off.”
Since the 1970s, the artistes, many of whom are now Padma Shri and Sangeetr Natak Akademi awardees, were allotted the accommodations for three-year terms at nominal rents. This was extended regularly.
However, the extensions expired in 2014, following which a number of letters were exchanged between the artistes and the ministry.
An assessment by the housing and urban affairs ministry in 2015 found the artistes overstaying in the government accommodation, in some cases more than 30 years, by paying a nominal fee, against the stay limit of six years.
A statement issued on behalf of the artistes termed the government’s decision to send them eviction notice during the pandemic as “inhuman”.
The eviction notice says if the accommodations are not vacated by the December 31 deadline, then eviction proceedings would be initiated as per Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act.
Sources said a cabinet panel on accommodation, which approved the eviction, has decided to waive off all punitive charges from 2014 to September 30, 2020.