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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Lokpal Bill: Anna Hazare's Mumbai fast may cost team Rs 50 lakh

Anna Hazare has realised that holding an agitation now comes with a price tag. A 15-day proposed agitation at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) would set Team Anna back by a cool Rs 50 lakh, something the crusaders against corruption had not bargained for.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has issued a primary permission to Anna Hazare and his men to hold an agitation at the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), but the rental, parking and security charges may force Team Anna to look for another venue since the costs are turning out to be rather prohibitive.

Team Anna has booked the MMRDA grounds from December 26 to January 10, but has not finalised the dates yet. And apart from paying a rental of Rs 2 lakh per day to MMRDA, Team Anna will also have to pay additional charges for electricity, security and traffic management, including parking charges. MMRDA deputy commissioner Anil Wankhede confirmed that Team Anna has asked for permission to use the MMRDA grounds at BKC for their agitation which has been issued to them, subject to clearances from the police and fire brigade.

Team Anna has been given a 30,000 sq metre plot in the G Text block of the BKC for 15 days instead of the original demand for one month. Wankhede said that a plot of 30,000 sq metre is available at BKC. "Since the plot is available for 15 days, we have told the organisation, India against Corruption (IAC), about the same. The rate applicable will be different in 2011 and 2012. In the first five days of 2011, we will charge IAC Rs 6.40 per sq metre per day, and in the first 10 days of 2012, we will be charging them Rs 8.40 per sq metre per day."

Team Anna will also have to pay electricity charges which include a security deposit of Rs 5 lakh. Hiring of fire brigade services is compulsory. So, fire charges will be collected at Rs 50,000 per day which will add up to around Rs 7.5 lakh for 15 days. In addition, parking charges and traffic management charges for 15 days will be close to Rs 7.5 lakh. So, the total charges for a 15-day agitation will work out to be a little over Rs 50 lakh. However, Team Anna members aren't amused and feel the charges are absurd.

Said Praful Vora, a member, "IAC volunteers are shocked at the expensive charges of hiring the MMRDA grounds: it is roughly Rs 2,00,000 a day. How can a poor man like Annaji, who is leading a civil protest , expect to pay such a sum to the Maharashtra government? MMRDA should not apply a commercial policy to IAC since we are working for a public cause, a not-for-profit movement, and we can't afford such sums like commercial entities can. IAC will write to the chief minister asking for a solution as a civil movement can't afford such hefty costs." For the moment, though, the cost of an agitation stands at Rs 50 lakh.


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