After the Congress led a successful protest at Azad Maidan on Wednesday against the proposed amendment of the Bombay Rent Act, 1999, the ruling BJP government has decided to do its bit. On Sunday, it will hold a public meeting at Marine Drive.
The proposed amendment will not only force residents to cough up exorbitant rents, but also make tenants of commercial outlets above 547 sq ft pay rents 500 times more rent. According to Viren Shah, head of Federation of Retail Traders Welfare Association, this hike will affect more than three lakh homes. There is rising suspicion that this is a ploy by the government to hand over the buildings to builders for redevelopment.
Faced with a distressed public, the Congress took to the streets on Wednesday, while the Shiv Sena opposed the proposed amendment. However, support from the BJP was slow to come, given threats and concerns from within the party.
Today’s meeting will be held by Raj Purohit, local Colaba MLA. “I expect some 5,000 residents to gather on Sunday where the issue will be discussed,” he said. Purohit had on Wednesday met chief minister Devendra Fadanvis, who he said had assured him of looking into the matter. Meanwhile, a senior BJP functionary claimed that the government’s intention is being misread. “The amendment will not touch smaller houses. Only big apartments and commercial establishments will be considered for now.” However, tenants fear that the government will use the same principle to attack smaller homes later.