In poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has promised to come out with a scheme in 15 days under which journalists will be offered houses at subsidised rates. Assembly elections in the state are due early next year.
The promise came when a delegation of about 300 journalists from the state, who have been living in government accommodation, met Akhilesh Thursday. The state government had earlier served notices to these journalists asking them to vacate their houses in 15 days. The notices cited the recent Supreme Court order on government accommodation for former chief ministers, in which the apex court had also observed that “allotment of government property to private persons or bodies without adequate consideration” must be discontinued.
“The idea is to give accommodation to journalists at subsidised rates. The CM has given us 15 days to formalise a scheme in this regard, which is likely to be in the form of flats,” said Navneet Sehgal, Principal Secretary, UP Information Department.
The state government is likely to place a bill in the ongoing monsoon session of the Assembly defining the process of allotment of government houses to individuals, trusts and societies.
The Supreme Court, in its order dated August 1, had said, “Allotment of government property to someone without adequate market rent, in absence of any special statutory provision, would also be bad in law because the state has no right to fritter away government property in favour of private persons or bodies without adequate consideration and therefore, all such allotments cannot be upheld.”
Asked about those who have been served notices following the SC order, B R S Yadav, Estate Officer, UP Estate Department told The Indian Express: “There are approximately 300 journalists, who are living in government accommodation. All have been served notices to vacate their residence in next 15 days.”
The journalists, meanwhile, said there should be no reading between the lines in CM’s promise. Hemant Tiwari, president of one of the accredited journalist associations, said, “The last time UP government had come out with any such scheme for the journalists was in 1997 during BJP regime… 125 journalists had got its benefit. We had been asking the CM to consider such a scheme ever since he took over in 2012.”
When asked about the association pleading for allotment of government accommodation, Tiwari said this arrangement was in place in several other states.