‘Right to Accommodation’ group organized a seven-day hunger strike for rent regulation at North Campus from 31st October – 6th November 2014. The protest was organised in order to implement the provisions of Rent Control Act, especially receipt for the rent paid and fixation of rent in the private accommodations of Delhi University campus.
Six people including a few students sat on the hunger strike at Christian Colony at Patel Chest, North Campus where over seven days, various tenants of Christian Colony organized themselves to fight for rent regulation. Candle march and torch march was set out in adjoining areas like Mukherjee Nagar and Vijay Nagar where tenants from these areas also joined the protest.
Need for rent regulation
Delhi University’s north campus houses over 2,00,000 students from all over the country but the total number of hostel seats in all the campus colleges are 6000. 1,94,000 students live in private accommodation in the campus, with maximum availing the single room accommodations. Moreover, other students preparing for the competitive exams also reside in the campus.
According to the statistics provided by ‘Right to Accommodation’ team, one single room accommodation with attached bathroom ranges from Rs. 4500/- to Rs. 15000/- in the north campus. However, if the matter of rent regulation goes to the court, the rent will be fixed somewhere around Rs. 1000/-
According to the statement by Right to Accommodation team, students from the North-East form the maximum proportion of the crowd that suffers. The same room will be rented out to a student from the North East for 7000/- which is given to a student from North India for 4000/- only. Reasons like these saw better participation by students from the east to protest.
Demands of the protest
The group on strike demands proper enforcement of Delhi Rent Control Act 1958, which states that the property owner should provide a receipt for the rent received. Praveen Singh, Convenor of Right to Accommodation says, “We want the receipt system to be introduced because that will help us give proofs to the rent controller to fix the rent. Otherwise, all the money is going into owners’ pocket as black money.”
Praveen Singh himself was also on the hunger strike along with Sachin from Manipur, Mukesh, Neil and journalism students from Ambedkar College, Adil and Manish Bhartiya. Adil and Manish were also hospitalised on 4th November as a result of weakness due to hunger strike.
The protest also saw students and leaders of different party factions coming together for the cause of “tenants’ exploitation”. It included Manipur State BJP president, DUTA president Ms. Nandita Narayan and other teachers. Nandita Narayan, expressing her concern over the issue said, “Any central university across the world has proper accommodation facilities arranged for its students. If Delhi University wishes to be called as the central university, it should provide adequate hostel facilities and should have appropriate understanding with the local residents. Landlords prefer students because it is easy to get the property vacated, so in return students deserve the gesture of reasonable rents.”
Results on fixture of rent
The strike ended with an agreement amongst the tenants where the rents have been fixed at Rs. 1500/- for a single room. If the landlord refuses to accept this amount, he/she is liable to issue a receipt.
Kamlesh Kumar Mishra, Advocate and Legal consultant for the matter says, “Fixation of rent at Rs. 1500/- is an interim measure before the judicial processes happen. Meanwhile now, the tenants have organized themselves and they all gather if anyone of them is being harassed by the landlord. Proprietors by now have also tried to negotiate on prices, as they are not keen on giving the receipts.”
Right to Accommodation also plans to file a PIL in the upcoming week requesting the rent controller to look into the matter.
Statistics and figures provided by the team of Right to Accommodation.