Anna's dilemma: Delhi's winter vs Mumbai's rent
Team Anna is unhappy with paying hefty rent for using MMRDA grounds in Mumbai, it's demanding a concession and also looking at other venues in the city.
Anna Hazare is caught in a dilemma. With the winter chill getting harsher in New Delhi, Anna Hazare and India Against Corruption had suggested that the proposed agitation against the government draft of the Lokpal will happen in Mumbai. At a press conference yesterday Arvind Kejriwal confirmed that the protest will take place in Mumbai.
Now, after being told it would have to pay Rs 17 lakh up front as rent and deposit for the MMRDA Ground, Team Anna said that it may go to court demanding an appropriate alternative. Anna's aides had asked for police and other clearances for the centrally-located MMRDA Ground at the Bandra-Kurla Complex. This morning they were informed this would cost them Rs 3.77 lakh per day.
While individuals came forward to help Anna, Team Anna has turned down donations. India Against Corruption coordinator Mayank Gandhi said, "We don't support a five-star protest."
Team Anna has asked the Maharashtra government for a concession on the rates quoted and have written to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan seeking his intervention in the matter.
Earlier this week the MMRDA officials had quoted Rs 2.25 lakh per day as charges for using the grounds. The MMRDA officials said they were obliged to charge more after it turned out that the NGO in whose name the rental was sought — Jagrut Nagrik Manch — was not a registered trust. So Team Anna will have to pay commercial rates, which work out to nearly Rs 17 lakh for three days, which includes a refundable sum.
Team Anna is now considering an alternative venue to launch their agitation, including Azad Maidan. Location in south Mumbai, Azad Maidan had been offered to Team Anna for protests at no cost initially, but it had turned down the offer saying that Azad Maidan may not be able to accommodate the huge crowds they expect — 50,000 to one lakh a day.
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