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MMRDA pays Rs 10 Lakh to PR firm for a 4-month contract

The Congress-led body has raised eyebrows by paying the exorbitant amount to a private company even though it has its own in-house public relations department; some board members believe the move is politically motivated

As part of its intensive image-building exercise, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has appointed a private PR agency, paying it a hefty sum to develop and execute a new communication strategy over the next four months.

On December 5, MMRDA issued an order, stating that it would hire an agency to represent it, for total fee of Rs 9,99,998, at the rate of Rs 2,50,000 per month. Confirming the development, an MMRDA official said, "We have appointed a private PR agency for a period of four months.

Their contract will extend from December 7 of this year to April 7, 2012. The agency will ensure that a free flow of communication is maintained between the body and the media and the public. This is being done so that correct information is furnished regarding the projects that are ongoing, and those that are in the wings."

Unnecessary move
Some members of the MMRDA board, however, feel that the decision taken by the Congress-led body is politically motivated, calculated by the party to refurbish the body's public image in the run-up to the approaching BMC elections.
 
They believe that the private agency has been roped in to boost the image of the MMRDA, which is often targeted for its shoddy and tardy execution of projects.

Board Member and BJP leader Ashish Shelar said, "MMRDA already has a PR department, and there was no need to appoint a private PR agency and waste public money.

The BMC has so many departments, but takes care of its PR itself. I don't know why a body that has relatively few departments needs to rope in a private PR agency."

"It's a move calculated to woo the voters. It's common knowledge that projects undertaken by the MMRDA have caused inconvenience to residents of the city. But I don't think that the Congress will benefit from the move," added Shelar.

MMRDA has its own media advisor, who presides over its full-fledged internal PR department. MMRDA's Additional Metropolitan Commissioner S V R Srinivas, was not available for comment.

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