Vendors, small businesses seek rent exemption

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Mar 30: With the nationwide lockdown nearing a week, roadside vendors and small business entrepreneurs in the capital have appealed to the state government to help in having their rents waived off till the lockdown is in place.
Some of the roadside vegetable vendors in one of the markets here said they are finding it difficult to make ends meet as not only has the number of customers decreased, it has also become difficult for them to procure the regular stocks of fresh vegetables as most of the vehicles coming from Assam are not being allowed to enter the state.
“How will people like us, who depend on selling vegetables on the roadsides, be able to pay rent when the shops are not running properly? Only grocery stores are allowed to open freely. My husband is stuck in another state and I have to take care of my children alone. We request the local MLA to help outsiders like us in such trying times,” a vendor said.
Another small business entrepreneur requested the government to come up with a mechanism to give them respite from the landlords for at least a month or two, till the coronavirus pandemic is over.
“Self-employed people like us are facing the brunt of the lockdown. Those who are in government jobs have their salaries coming in. We run a small car wash and it is like daily-wage earning. I cannot pay the rent if there is no work. I can’t pay my employees, I can’t feed them,” he said.
While some landlords have relaxed their rent policies or have waived off the rent for this month, some said “the banks won’t understand why we cannot pay off our EMIs.”
A landlord in Chandranagar said, “I can delay collecting the rent, but I cannot waive it off or carry it forward to the next month. We are from here, so we have a building that we give out on rent, but it does not mean that we have several other buildings. If I do not collect rent, my family will be in a difficult position.”
Another landlord, in Niti Vihar, suggested that those who are in government jobs should pay their rents as they will get paid by the government, as notified. But he said he was willing to “make an exception for a few persons, after due consideration.”