'Did MMRDA give discounts to others?'

After being refused a concession, Anna loyalist files RTI seeking information on the previous renters and the entire gamut of dealings from past three years

Angered by Mumbai Metro- politan Region Development Authority's (MMRDA) unhelpful stance in granting a concession for their grounds to hold the fast, Team Anna's supporters are in a vindictive mood.

The motley bunch of supporters, who include some of the city's most active Right to Information (RTI) activists, will now file RTI applications seeking past information on people that MMRDA has leased the ground to, if any concessions were given, how much rent was charged and at what rate?

Sharad Yadav, the Mumbai suburban secretary of Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan Nyas, an NGO that claims to be inspired by noted social activist Anna Hazare, filed the first RTI copy of which is available with MiD DAY asking for details related to the charter of MMRDA grounds from the last three years.

"Although we have now been granted permission to hold the fast, I am hurt with the events surrounding it. We are people with literally no money and hence wanted concessions to take the cause ahead that will not only benefit us, but everyone in the country.

The government should have given us the land for free or charge a nominal Rs 1 as a token. I have now asked the government to provide the entire list of people to whom they have leased the ground in the past," said Yadav.

Yadav, meanwhile is now filing another series of RTI applications in a quest for answers to various other issues and claims that even after the consent has been granted, his RTIs to MMRDA won't stop.

Steep rates

The tiff, with MMRDA, had its beginnings when Anna decided to fast in the city in protest of a weak Lokpal bill and his supporters approached MMRDA seeking permission to hold the fast at MMRDA grounds in Bandra-Kurla complex.

After MMRDA quoted a high rate, the supporters wanted the authority to grant concessions in the lease rate of the ground. MMRDA, however, argued citing legalities and claiming that the organisation applying for the permission isn't a charitable trust and hence were not eligible. This irked Anna's supporters.

Discontented with the proceedings, Viren Shah, president, Federation of Retail Traders' Welfare Association, claims that they are only getting information, without any prejudice. "People will and have filed RTIs, we and the common public want to know what concessions were given to which parties public, private or commercial.
The RTIs will be filed and no RTI filed will be taken back, neither would the people wanting to file will stop," said Shah. An officer from MMRDA, requesting anonymity, said, "We will need to check on the RTI queries received and only by Monday can we confirm the same."

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