In a saddening incident, the Centre on Wednesday urged eight distinguished artistes, who were allotted government accommodations years ago but which were cancelled in 2014, to vacate the facilities by May 2.
Centre's move came a day after eviction proceedings were conducted against 90-year-old Padma Shri awardee and Odissi dancer Guru Mayadhar Raut.
According to a senior Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry official, out of 28 artistes, there are still around eight who have not moved out of their government accommodations despite multiple notices.
"These eight artistes assured us that they are in the process of vacating their bungalows and sought some more days. They have given us an undertaking in written that they would vacate the facilities by May 2 and we have given them time till then," said the official.
On eviction of 90-year-old Padma Shri awardee Odissi dance exponent Guru Mayadhar Raut's eviction, the official said a team of officials had been sent to his government bungalow for initiating eviction proceedings. Social media videos and pictures showed his household goods including his Padma citation were found lying on road outside the bungalow.
According to the government's policy, up to 40 artistes can be allotted accommodation under a special quota in the General Pool Residential Accommodation on the recommendation of the culture ministry if they earned under Rs 20,000 a month.
Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court had refused to grant more time to Indian classical artiste Rita Ganguly who had challenged a single judge's decision directing her and others to vacate government allotted residences in the national capital by April-end.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Navin Chawla had said it would not grant even one more day and noted that the single judge was more than benevolent while granting her two months' time.
The Centre had given a deadline of December 31, 2020, to vacate the premises but the notice was stayed by the high court after the petitions were filed.
The court had said it would be open for the Centre to take action if the petitioners did not comply with its February order.
The single-judge had delivered its verdict on the pleas by Mohiniyattam dancer Bharati Shivaji, Kuchipudi dancer Guru V Jayarama Rao, Mayadhar Raut, Dhrupad singer Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar, Bharatanatyam dancer Rani Shinghal, Kathak expert Geetanjali Lal, and other artistes including KR Subanna, Kamal Sabri, Devraj Dakoji, Kamalini, artist Jatin Das, Pt Bhajan Sopori and Ganguly.
Vanashree Rao, wife of Kuchipudi dancer Guru Jayarama Rao, who was allotted a house in 1987, said they are in the process of vacating the property.
"We have started packing household goods. The government is not ready to listen to us. We will vacate the accommodation soon," Rao told PTI on Wednesday.
As part of its drive against "illegal occupants", the Directorate of Estates had evicted Lok Sabha member Chirag Paswan from the 12, Janpath bungalow which had been allotted to his late father Ramvilas Paswan.
Several BJP MPs, who had been allotted bungalows when they were ministers, had to also vacate the government facilities.
(With PTI Inputs)