HYDERABAD: Playing the Good Samaritan, a house owner in Hyderabad has waived off rents of his 75 tenants during the lockdown. The 41-year-old man who owns three buildings in the city has told his tenants that they need not pay him rent for April.
“I know what it is to go hungry. I have had my own struggles in life. I do not want any of these families to suffer during this crunch time,” says Koduri Balalingam, who lives in Balanagar. His buildings have one-bedroom houses which are rented to industrial workers, mostly from Bihar. The total rent he has waived off came to Rs 3.4 lakh. “If the lockdown continues and they have no means of earning, I will think of waiving rent for the next month as well,” he told STOI.
In addition to waiving off the rents, he has also distributed Rs 2.5 lakh among 250 poor families both in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
But donating money is not new for Balalingam, who hails from Rajapeta village in Telangana’s Rajanna Sircilla district. From the time he set up his own mechanical workshop at Balanagar in 2005, he has contributed a total of Rs 1.20 crore to people in need. This includes granting scholarships to meritorious students, installing a water plant in his village, helping families of RTC workers who were on strike and paying salaries for volunteers to assist with their teaching in government schools.
Growing up as an intermediate in Kamareddy, he says he he had no money to support himself. So he worked in a bar cleaning utensils. During holidays in 1996, he came to Hyderabad with his friend and worked as a helper in a lathe machine workshop in Balanagar. He worked for nine years in various workshops and then set up his own in 2005.
Now, he provides employment to 10 workers. “I gave my first donation of Rs 1 lakh to feed the poor when I myself was running a debt of Rs 5 lakh. So, it is in my nature to help others,” he says. With CM K Chandrasekhar Rao urging house owners to be considerate towards tenants, Balalingam did what came to him naturally. Of the premises that he has let out, there are 25 shutters and 50 small one-bedroom houses and a couple of two-bedroom houses.
April 12, 2020