Shiv Sena, Congress smell a rat in BJP’s desperation to amend the Rent Act to nullify the pagadi system, accuse it of catering to the builder and landlord lobby
If the state government introduces its controversial amendment to the existing Maharashtra Rent Control Act, 1999, to get rid of the unauthorised pagadi system, then an exodus of the non-elite class from South Mumbai is guaranteed.
The amendment means that tenants occupying residential units above 847 sq ft will have to pay 250 times the existing rent. Similarly, the rent for a commercial unit measuring 540 sq ft will shoot up by a whopping 500 times.
Voices of dissent are being raised from all sectors of the society, including the political class, accusing the BJP-led state government of favouring the builder and landlord lobby.
mid-day spoke to Congress leader Milind Deora and Shiv Sena’s Pandurang Sakpal from South Mumbai to gauge their reaction on the amendment and this is what they said.
'A 300-fold hike in rent is ridiculous'
For the second time the [BJP] government has tried to introduce the amendment within a year’s span. This ascertains that it has ulterior motives. They are trying to burden the common man, and we [Congress] won’t allow this to happen. A debate on whether the rent should be hiked or not is a must. But a 300-fold hike is ridiculous.
During my tenure as an MP from South Mumbai, I intervened and ensured that such arbitrary proposals were shot down. This happened at a time when we were in power. Have apprised the party high command about the issue and will involve both [Gandhis] to stall the proposal should the need arise.
There is a misconception that every SoBoite is rich. Several tenants, who inherited the apartments from their fathers and forefathers, belong to lower and middle-income groups. This government isn’t interested in protecting tenants the way we used to. It wants to favour the builder lobby. A huge chunk of the tenant population in SoBo comprises of senior citizens, who will be displaced upon introduction of the amendment.
If the state is proposing an amendment, it should take people into confidence first. It must also consider the ramifications of such amendments rather than brazenly implementing it.
— Milind Deora, former MP and union minister, Congress
'Middle-class can’t even afford Kalyan'
Though we [Shiv Sena] aren’t against hiking the rent, but will never support such kind of hasty and whimsical decisions. While rent hike for larger houses should be reasonable, those occupying dwellings smaller than 500 sq ft shouldn’t be burdened at all.
We have categorically stated that the amendment is a way to throw our people not just out of Mumbai, but even beyond its outskirts. Most tenants residing in South Mumbai are occupants of chawls and old buildings.
How will those who earn on day-to-day-basis or little will pay the exorbitant rent? This amendment is nothing but a systematic displacement of the poor and the middle-class. We won’t let this happen.
By planning to amend the rent act, the BJP-government is placating the builder lobby. Protest by its members against the recently introduced open space policy was just hogwash. The government has hidden agendas.
Our top leadership and elected public representatives are aware of the development and are ready to fight tooth and nail until the amendment is scrapped. With prices of essential commodities skyrocketing, where will the common man go?
— Pandurang Sakpal, Shiv Sena Vibhag adhyaksha (South Mumbai)