Shop rent dues of Rs 8 cr chokes Arani Municipality

Shops were built by the local body in places like Gandhi Market, Periyar Maaligai and near the mother and child centre aimed at raking in some additional revenue for the municipality.
A view of closed shops in a municipality-run commercial
complex in Arani town
A view of closed shops in a municipality-run commercial complex in Arani town

ARANI: The Arani Municipality is in a bind as it has run up rental arrears of more than Rs 8 crore for 110 shops, which were sealed for various reasons, in the local body’s commercial complexes in different parts of the town.

Traders, who spoke to DT Next, said, “the local body unilaterally raised the rent amount by more than 100 per cent without considering the capacity of a trader to pay which in turn linked to business volume in a specific area. Shops which paid around Rs 1,530 in 2017 were asked to shell out Rs 9,990 for the same location which was unfair.”

Shops were built by the local body in places like Gandhi Market, Periyar Maaligai and near the mother and child centre aimed at raking in some additional revenue for the municipality. However, things went awry when the local body raised the rent amount without considering whether traders would be able to pay the hiked rate as business in a specific area would continue to be the same. But, this went for a toss due to lockdown.

A trader preferring anonymity said, “Once the traders realised that they were in a win-win situation as they did not have to pay rent for setting up shops in open due to COVID, they continued to remain in shops resulting in the local body now being caught with rent arrears of Rs 8 crore.” Though 110 of the 445 shops continue to remain sealed due to non-payment of rent, amount accruing to owners increase every month, officials revealed.

Commissioner P Tamilzhselvi said, “we are waiting for the PWD to complete an appraisal of the physical condition of the closed shops before a decision on reopening them.” Regarding the Rs 8 crore rent arrears, she said, “the issue will be placed before the Council, which will debate and offer a solution.”

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