‘Pugree’ shopkeepers protest against Delhi Rent Control Act

Many ‘pugree’ shopkeepers, accompanied by women and children today staged a demonstration near Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu’s residence here, against the Delhi Rent Control Act.
 Holding ‘chapatis’ (bread) and placards in their hands, the protesters demanded the government to stop eviction of shopkeepers by landlords on the grounds of “bonafide need” provision of the Act.
The police, however, took the agitators to Tughlaq Road police station and they were later released.
 “The protesters who were nearly 30 in number were taken away from the protest venue. Since some children were also accompanying the protesters, they were taken away as they could not be left on the road. No one was detained,” said a senior police officer.
 The protesters in their memorandum alleged that the tenants falling under the Act have been facing a “crisis of bread and butter” in the form of evictions under “false” bonafide need being propounded by the landlords.
 Almost all the protected tenants have paid the entire market price of the property at the time of taking it on rent by way of ‘pugree’ (amount paid at the time of entering rent), said Rambhakt Agrawal, convener of Rajdhani Pagdi Kirayedar Sangthan.
 He claimed that since the change in the law in 2008, the number of pugree tenants has come down from 5 lakhs to 4 lakhs.
 The ‘Pugree Kirayadar’ system was launched before Independence to avoid payment of excessive taxes to the British. The transfer of the property was as per a verbal agreement wherein the tenant was given a slip of rent payment while payments were made in full to the landlord.
 “With an average of 5 persons per family of each tenant, around 5 lakh citizens of Delhi have been rendered without bread and butter,” Agrawal added.
 The protesters also demanded amendments in the Delhi Rent Control Act on the lines of Gujarat model of Rent Control Act.

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