For stir go-ahead, Anna's name works like magic

All permissions and NOCs for use of riverside land by IAC obtained in just one day

It is the experience of many that getting permission from the Revenue Department for use of government land for any purpose is a process that can take up to a month, but India Against Corruption (IAC) was able to obtain the go-ahead for its riverside agitation in support of Anna Hazare in a day.

Fasting for a cause: Around 1,500 thronged to the protest venue to 
participate in the chain hunger strike on the first day of Anna Hazare's 
movement for a strong Lokpal Bill on the banks of Mutha. 
Pic/Krunal Gosavi 

The final permission letter from the District Collector was sought yesterday morning, after which the IAC agitation began. The first day of the agitation received moderate response in the city. The IAC had initially been denied permission for the hunger strike when it approached the city police and the traffic police last Thursday. The police argued that there was a possibility the stir would result in traffic chaos and make it difficult to maintain the law and order situation. On Friday, IAC activists had to run from office to office in a bid to get the final permission for the riverside ground.

The IAC paid a total of Rs 42,996 for using the 14,331 square metres of land, on which it put up a pandal of 100 feet by 30 feet. For the IAC, it was a much cheaper affair than the MMRDA ground in Mumbai, where Anna Hazare is on a fast to press for the passage of a strong Lokpal bill in Parliament.

"That (MMRDA) ground was charged Rs 2.50 lakh per day," said Sandeep Khardekar, coordinator, IAC city unit. According to Khardekar, it might have been the magic of Anna Hazare's name that allowed them to get permissions in just a day when for others it takes about a month. "Only the official letter from the District Collector was left and we got it on Tuesday morning when we paid the required amount. The permission required NOCs from the irrigation, police, traffic police departments, besides 4 departments in the District Collector's office," Khardekar said. 

Deepak Bharadia, IAC chief coordinator, said it was a pleasant surprise to see all things falling in place properly. "Anna Hazare has fought against delays by authorities and has successfully brought about the Delay In Official Duty Act 2005. The act has given a deadline of 45 days, but we got all the pemissions and NOCs in just 24 hours. This is the first victory of our agitation for the passage of an effective Jan Lokpal bill," he said.

The first day of the IAC agitation on the Mutha bank near Bhide Causeway was lukewarm.  Khardekar said that compared to past agitations, the student turnout was lower this time as many colleges had Christmas holidays. "We did not get Balgandharva junction for the agitation, but Punekars will come in big numbers in the next two days," he said. "We have a total of 1,500 visitors and people were coming and going."

BJP MLA Girish Bapat, RSS leader Bapu Ghatpande, noted writer Datta Tol, actress Aruna Bhat, Ruchira Bhat, Commander Ravi Pathak and senior NGO activist Dr Pradeep Dixit declared their support for Hazare and the IAC agitation.

Problem with TV coverage
THE promised television coverage of the IAC agitation in Mumbai and the Lokpal debate at the Mutha riverside venue of the stir in the city was not possible till 4.30 pm because of technical problems. "We are not getting the BSNL internet linking for showing television channels on the screen," said Anup Avasthi, an IAC activist. With the TV link down, the organisers kept the crowd engaged by playing patriotic songs on the music system. The issue was gradually sorted out and the projection finally started with the organisers showing one TV channel. "The system shall work better from the second day," Avasthi said. 

Three agitation venues in city
>> Mutha bank ground near Baba Bhide Causeway
>> Opposite Kedari Patrol Pump, Hadapsar
>> Near Dr Ambedkar Statue, Pimpri 

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