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JNU not against dhabas, canteens on campus, but they've to follow rules, pay bills: VC Santishree

JNU not against dhabas, canteens on campus, but theyve to follow rules, pay bills: VC Santishree

New Delhi: Days after the JNU served eviction notices on several dhabas and canteens on the campus, Vice-Chancellor Santishree Dhulipudi Pandit said the administration was not against such establishments being there, but they have to follow the rules and pay their bills.

She said the owners of such establishments operating on the campus are "illegal occupants" who have not paid their rent or electricity bills for years. She said the university was ready to allow them to clear their dues in instalments.

"We are only trying to legalise. We are trying to say you pay the rent and electricity bill. They don't want to pay anything. They want everything free." the Jawaharlal Nehru University VC told PTI in an interview on Wednesday.

Last month, the varsity sent eviction notices to several canteen and dhaba owners on campus asking them to pay the rent by June 27 and vacate the premises by June 30. However, the university hasn't taken any action against the owners as of now.

Pandit has also expressed concerns over the obscurity around the ownership of these dhabas and the types of workers employed there. She pointed out that none of the canteen and Dhaba owners who has been served the notices has gone through the proper allotment process.

"These are all illegal dhabas. Nobody went through the committee (JNU Campus Development Committee). Tell them to show me the data of ownership. Somebody fell in love with someone and gave the space to them. You don't do that, it is government property," said Pandit.

According to the officials, the allotment of shops within the campus is done by the JNU Campus Development Committee (CDC).

She also raised concerns over the cleanliness at these establishments and the possibilities of child or bonded labour employed there.

"The shabas are so dirty. They haven't paid the electricity bill. They don't pay the water supply bill. I am getting an electricity bill of Rs 36 crore per year, who is going to pay," she emphasised.

"I don't know about any worker who works here -- I don't know whether they keep child labour or bonded labour. We don't know anything," she pointed out.

The latest set of eviction notices were issued as the owners did not respond to several notices against them since 2019 with a request to clear the dues, the university had said last week.

These notices sent the canteen operators into panic, who said they are too hard up to pay the dues and risk losing their livelihood entirely.

When asked that the bills are in lakhs and the dhabas owners are worried that they cannot pay it, the vice-chancellor said the university is ready to allow them to pay in instalments, but pointed out they they haven't responded to the notices yet.

"If I wanted to really throw them out I would have done by June 30th. I would have called the police and evicted them.

"My question is why don't you (dhaba/canteen owners) abide by the law of JNU. We are not against you being here. We want to make them organised. Let them start paying. They haven't paid a penny till now. We are ready to let them pay in instalments," she added.

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