The government does not have a house for Zohra Sehgal

101-yr-old had sought ground-floor house as movement difficult for her, ministry says doesn’t qualify.

New Delhi | Updated: February 10, 2014 11:27 am
The Culture Ministry had approached the Ministry of Urban Development last month with Sehgal’s request. Tashi Tobgyal The Culture Ministry had approached the Ministry of Urban Development last month with Sehgal’s request. Tashi Tobgyal

“I am already 101. If I get the house, it’s fine, if I don’t, then also it’s good with me. I have never begged anyone for anything,” says Zohra Sehgal, sitting in a second-floor house in South Delhi’s Mandakini Enclave.

The veteran theatre and film actor, whose last movie was the 2007 Amitabh Bachchan-starrer Cheeni Kum, had written to the Union Ministry of Culture in 2011 for allotment of a ground-floor government accommodation anywhere in Central Delhi. The government has now decided she doesn’t fall in the admissible age limit of 40-60 years to qualify for the accommodation under artiste quota.

Says Sehgal’s daughter Kiran, a renowned dancer: “She can hardly hear or see. She cries in pain whenever she has to be taken to the dentist or for some work outside the house in a wheelchair. It’s difficult for her to even take the six steps to the area where she can sit in the sun.”

The Culture Ministry had approached the Ministry of Urban Development last month with Sehgal’s request. The UD Ministry declined it.

As per norms, an artiste needs to earn less than Rs 20,000 per month and not own any property in the National Capital Region to be eligible for the house. “It is beyond the purview of the ministry, only the Cabinet can approve the accommodation now,” says a senior UD Ministry official.

The house where Sehgal currently stays belongs to Kiran. “We do not have the money to buy a ground-floor house. We thought the government would help… We thought she has entertained people for so long,” says Kiran.

While age has forced Sehgal to stop working, she still gets offers, adds Kiran. Known for her formidable spirit, the 101-year-old shows little disappointment even now. “I start my day with four glasses of nimbu-paani. Then I do a lot of exercises. I am a Rohilla Pathan, we never give up,” she says, posing for the camera. “There is a couplet — Maya ko maya mile kar kar ke lambe haath, Tulsidas gareeb ki koi na maane baat,” she says. “The rich only help the rich, there is nobody for the poor.”

Winking, Sehgal adds: “You know Gursharan Kaur, the Prime Minister’s wife, she calls me amma. I did not even ask her for any favour — she was there at my birthday party last year.”

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    Aashish Rajgaria
    Feb 10, 2014 at 5:07 am
    I don't see why its a big deal. While she claims to be a successful actor, one should save for retirement accordingly. If its not within the norms, I'm not sure why should she be allotted a house outside a government official's capacity.
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      gumnaam
      Feb 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm
      Couldn't ask Gursharan Kaur directly; so come and scream in front of a news paper!!!It is hard to believe that the she financially not sound enough to buy an apartment in NCR/ suburb. It is just another attempt to use/abuse the government provisions.
      Reply
      1. G
        gumnaam
        Feb 10, 2014 at 6:27 pm
        Couldn't ask Gursharan Kaur directly; so come and scream in front of a news paper!!!It is hard to believe that the she financially not sound enough to buy an apartment in NCR/ suburb. It is just another attempt to use/abuse the government provisions.
        Reply
        1. S
          Sandeep
          Feb 10, 2014 at 1:28 am
          What is wrong in it? what wrong Govt.has said.? Reporter / Editor must have some personal interest. She has already Cross 100 years.
          Reply
          1. S
            Sandeep
            Feb 10, 2014 at 1:28 am
            What is wrong in it? what wrong Govt.has said.? Reporter / Editor must have some personal interest. She has already Cross 100 years.
            Reply
            1. B
              Brijkhanna
              Feb 10, 2014 at 1:22 am
              The w Nation feel ashamed about the Government of India action refusing GROUND FLOOR accommodation to renowned theater personality and cine actress who has entertained Indian Art lovers for the last eight or more decades. It is shameful for our Prime Minister who might have seen performing in Prithvi Theater. It is shameful for g sons and g daughters and great g son and great g daughters of Late Prithvi Raj Kapoor in whose theater she was an important artist. It is shameful for the entire Cine Industry not to look after this legend. Still there is a time her demand should be accepted either by this Govt or by the Cine Industry to come to her rescue.We worship our non-existing Gods and Goddess but we forget and ignore this GODDESS OF THEATER AND CINEMA.
              Reply
              1. B
                Brijkhanna
                Feb 10, 2014 at 1:22 am
                The w Nation feel ashamed about the Government of India action refusing GROUND FLOOR accommodation to renowned theater personality and cine actress who has entertained Indian Art lovers for the last eight or more decades. It is shameful for our Prime Minister who might have seen performing in Prithvi Theater. It is shameful for g sons and g daughters and great g son and great g daughters of Late Prithvi Raj Kapoor in whose theater she was an important artist. It is shameful for the entire Cine Industry not to look after this legend. Still there is a time her demand should be accepted either by this Govt or by the Cine Industry to come to her rescue.We worship our non-existing Gods and Goddess but we forget and ignore this GODDESS OF THEATER AND CINEMA.
                Reply
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                  Chetan
                  Feb 10, 2014 at 5:03 am
                  Can we get her account number some how and add our share for the entertainment she gave us for decades . its time to give her the respect she deserve .
                  Reply
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