The Jawaharlal Nehru University administration has asked owners of several canteens and dhabas at the campus to clear their dues amounting to lakhs of rupees and vacate the varsity premises by June 30, alleging that their shops were allocated 'without following due tender procedure'.
In a notice to several canteen owners dated June 22, the varsity's Joint Registrar (Estate) M K Pachauri asked them to clear all the outstanding dues against them within seven days of the issuance of the letter.
Baffled shop owners are fearful of losing their livelihoods and are also finding it difficult to arrange the money to pay the dues.
According to them, as many as 10 canteens/dhabas/Xerox shops at the campus have been served these notices.
The university said the person will be liable for eviction proceedings as per the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 if he fails to comply with the notice.
'....is hereby directed to clear the outstanding dues against him with 7 days, from the date of issue of this letter with the direction that he has to VACATE the University premises by 30.06.2022,' the notice read. 'Failure to comply with the above direction the named hereunder liable for eviction proceedings as per Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act 1971. Dues on account of rent, water and electricity charges etc., outstanding against the said space up to the date of vacation, should be cleared,' it added.
Speaking to PTI, JNU Rector Ajay Dubey clarified that the notices have been served to those shop owners who have not paid rent and electricity bills 'for a long time', adding that many shops were not allocated with due procedure.
A canteen owner, who has been served a notice, said the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) administration is asking for Rs 10 lakh as the outstanding rent and electricity bills from him.
'I come from a poor economic background. I and my brother are the only earning members and our livelihood is dependent on this canteen. How can I pay Rs 10 lakh? They should have demanded monthly or annual dues. How can we pay Rs 10 lakh in one go? Even if we pay, there is no guarantee they will let us stay,' said the canteen owner, who did not wish to be named.
Another shop owner, who has been running a pantry on the campus since 2016, said he has been provided with an outstanding bill of over Rs 20 lakh.
'As per the notice, we have to pay this bill (of Rs 20 lakh) and vacate the premises. They had also earlier served notices, but we had requested them for compensation as we only serve 'samosas' (snack) and tea. But there was no reply from the administration. Now, we have been provided with this notice,' he said.
'I have not been able to give salary to my workers for a year and the pantry is not doing well, but it is my only source of income. Instead of helping us, the administration is putting this burden on us,' he added.
According to the letter, a notice was also served in May 2019 to establishment owners, seeking a reply as to why the eviction proceeding should not be initiated against them.
The 2019 notice was served on the recommendation of the committee constituted by the varsity to look into the issue of allotment of canteens/pantries/Xeros shops without following the tender procedure with further notice.
Protesting against the move, the left-affiliated AISA alleged the administration wants these canteen owners to vacate the premises as they are planning to bring big multinational companies to serve on the campus.
'Before 2014, there was no policy for the allocation of shops. These people (owners) were interviewed and the shops were allocated to them. The university framed a policy after 2014. And is now asking these people to pay in lakhs and suffer eviction,' AISA national president N Sai Balaji said.
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