India Against Corruption (IAC) got the permission to hire the MMRDA ground in Bandra-Kurla Complex to host the next leg of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption rally. But the NGO was less than happy with the rent for the ground and sought a “solution” from the government.
After IAC members met Anil Wankhede, assistant metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA on Monday, the civic agency conveyed that it was willing to allot the ground for the rally between December 26 and January 10. “We have accepted in principle to allot space to IAC for the scheduled programme. However, the organisers have to obtain the NoC from the police, fire brigade and the BMC before making arrangements at the venue,” MMRDA commissioner Rahul Asthana told HT. Asthana also added that the organisers would have to deposit all the charges for the venue in advance.
However, IAC members claimed that the charges were exorbitant. “IAC volunteers were shocked at the expensive charges of hiring the MMRDA grounds — roughly Rs 200,000 daily. How can a poor man like Anna, who is leading a civil protest, be expected to pay such a sum to the government,” said Praful Vora, a senior IAC volunteer.
Vora said that the MMRDA should not apply a commercial rate for the IAC because the NGO was working for a public cause and not for profit. “We will write to the chief minister asking for a solution as a civil movement cannot afford such hefty costs,” Vora said.
Last week, HT had reported that the Mumbai police had requested the IAC to consider moving the protest venue to BKC, instead of Azad Maidan as initially planned. On Monday, Preeti Sharma, co-ordinator for IAC told HT that the MMRDA ground was chosen in view of the large turnout anticipated.
“As of now 2,000 volunteers have decided to sit on fast along with Anna. Many more are likely. The MMRDA ground would be in a better position to accommodate the visitors and provide ample space for parking of vehicles too,” Sharma said. She added that the dates for the rally were yet to be finalised, given the possibility of the winter session of the Parliament being extended.