Odisha man waives off rent of all his 12 tenants, distributes 25 kg rice to each of them
Murli Mohan Acharya, a landlord from Berhampur’s Somnath Nagar neighbourhood, has overnight become a symbol of generosity and benevolence amid the socio-economic disruptions caused by the raging Covid-19 outbreak.Updated: May 15, 2020 15:02 IST
A landlord in Odisha’s coastal Ganjam district, which has emerged as the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) epicentre in the state, has waived off May’s rent for all his 12 tenants.
Murli Mohan Acharya, a landlord from Berhampur’s Somnath Nagar neighbourhood, has overnight become a symbol of generosity and benevolence amid the socio-economic disruptions caused by the raging Covid-19 outbreak.
He not only waived off his 12 tenants’ rents for May, but also distributed 25 kilograms (kg) of rice to each of them. The tenants earn their livelihood either as roadside snack vendors or run small-scale businesses.
“All my 12 tenants are facing a lot of economic hardship because their businesses are shut since end-March when nationwide lockdown restrictions were imposed to contain the spread of Covid-19 outbreak. Of the 12, three have left for their native villages along with families. I acceded to my tenants’ request and waived off their rent for May. I also gave each family 25 kg of rice to tide over the crisis, as the state government’s help has been few and far between,” Acharya said.
Berhampur sub-collector Shinde Dattatreya Bhausaheb felicitated Acharya for his noble deed, and urged other landlords to take a leaf out of his book. “We can change our society in a big way, even if 1% of landlords are willing to help out their tenants like what Acharya did,” Bhausaheb said.
Earlier in March, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik had appealed to the landlords to either waive off or defer the collection of their rents by at least three months due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Let each one of us rise and be there for one another amid these hard times. Let’s show the world that Odisha cares,” the CM had said. Patnaik had also urged to landlords that tenants should not be asked to vacate their accommodation for non-payment of rents during the healthcare emergency.
In April, two landlords in Bhubaneswar had waived off rent for their tenants.
Prashant Kumar Shreechandan, a landlord from Bhubaneswar’s Rasulgarh, had waived off the rent of his 26 tenants, which amounted to Rs 62,000, and promised the same for May if lockdown persisted.
Similarly, Jitu Jena, a landlord from Bhubaneswar’s Palasuni locality, wrote off the April’s rent for his 10 tenants.
“We’re united in trying to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We need to fight each other amid this unprecedented crisis,” said Jena.
However, not all landlords are as benevolent as Jena, Acharya, and Shreechandan.
For instance, Manmohan Pradhan, a landlord from Bhubaneswar’s Unit-1 area, almost doubled the rent of his tenant Mangaraj Sahoo, a driver, and gave him an ultimatum: either pay the increased rent or vacate the house.
Sahoo, who had taken up the accommodation on a monthly rent of Rs 3,000 seven months ago, lodged a complaint against Pradhan at Capital police station on May 10 after his rent was hiked to Rs 5,500.
While in April, a 60-year-old cancer patient in the coastal Balasore district had to spend over eight hours outside his rented house at Sahadevkhunta after the landlord refused to let him and his family members in as they had visited Bhubaneswar, another Covid-19 hotspot in the state.
Later, he was allowed to enter his rented premise after police intervened. However, his two sons, who had accompanied him to Bhubaneswar, were asked to stay away for 14 days.
A landlord also prevented a woman from entering her rented accommodation after her husband, a retired BSNL employee, died recently as he was denied admission to a few hospitals. The panic-stricken landlord suspected that the man’s death is related to Covid-19 and his widow could be a carrier of SARS-CoV-2 that causes the disease.