Mumbai, Dec 21: Maintaining that Rs 3.5 lakh per day rent for the MMRDA ground was too steep, Team Anna today sought the state government's intervention for lowering the amount and said they may move court if the issue is not settled amicably.
“We have told the chief minister and Mumbai Police Commissioner to inform us where to sit (on fast). We cannot pay such steep rent. We don't have that much money,” Team Anna core committee member Mayank Gandhi told reporters here.
Praful Vora, convenor of the Mumbai chapter of the NGO India Against Corruption, spearheading the anti-graft campaign here, said, “Our legal advisers are asking us to file a writ petition in the High Court seeking redress as ours in not a commercial organisation.”
“We may file the petition tomorrow or the day after.” Gandhi said Team Anna had planned the protest at Azad Maidan but was told to shift the venue of the proposed fast to MMRDA grounds in Bandra-Kurla Complex.
“If the government wants us to protest at MMRDA, it should bear the expense,” Vora said.
“It has hurt us and all Indians that for protesting in a democracy, we have to pay Rs 17 lakh, including refundable amount, for five days,” he said.
Gandhi said they would not have any problem if a token amount like Rs 2000 or Rs 5000 is charged as rent, “as was the case with Ramlila ground”.
Anna Hazare had yesterday said he would fast for three days from December 27, followed by a three-day ‘jail bharo' agitation.
IAC, which got the permission to rent the MMRDA ground here to host the next leg of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption campaign, had yesterday written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, requesting for waiver or reduction of rent.
“We were shocked to find that the average cost per day would come to almost Rs two lakh. We therefore request you to waive the entire charge or allow substantial financial relief,” Vora said in the letter.
“There is no doubt that a very large number of citizens will join the fast and visit the site. This is likely to strain the local resources. In view of this issue, it was suggested to us to examine the MMRDA grounds (in Bandra-Kurla Complex in suburbs) as it has ample space for visitors from all over Maharashtra and India,” Vora said.
The NGO pointed out that it is a “not for profit” organisation and was working for a public cause.
“We do not allow surrogate advertisements or allow any lateral promotion of commercial products or services. The entire cause is in national interest to struggle for governance reforms,” the letter said.
“If exemption in the huge costs at MMRDA is not possible, it is our request that adequate arrangements be made at Azad Maidan to enable citizens to join the protest of Annaji from December 27. We believe that 50,000 to 100,000 visitors will want to visit every day,” Vora said.