Team Anna wants 'level' playing field
Though IAC locked in on a 20,000 square-ft section of MMRDA grounds at Bandra-Kurla complex to stage the second leg of Anna Hazare's protest, they are unhappy as the plot is not levelled and is riddled with holes
The thick cloud of uncertainty surrounding the hallowed spot chosen to host team Anna's second innings against the government has finally cleared, with IAC announcing that the battle-cry will be sounded from the MMRDA grounds, located in the heart of the central business district of Bandra-Kurla Complex.
Team Anna will occupy the MMRDA ground from December 26-30, the first and last days in the period have been spared to erect and dismantle the podium that will be used for the protests from December 27-29
IAC members have sealed the deal, but reserved their enthusiasm about the condition of the plot provided. Reports suggest that they even requested for a last-minute shift of venue, a plea that was shot down by the MMRDA officials.
Some IAC members including Praful Vora and Mayank Gandhi paid a visit to the MMRDA headquarters in BKC last evening, to make the final payments and complete the necessary paperwork that would entitle them to use of the ground.
In course of the visit, they shared their concerns about the unevenness of the ground surface, and asked the Deputy Metropolitan Commissioner Anil Wankhede to allot a different plot to them. The MMRDA official, however, denied the request, saying that it was impossible for the body to allot another venue at the eleventh hour, as allotment was a lengthy process.
"The IAC members requested us to shift them to another venue, but we cannot humour them, as shifting them to another location is a cumbersome process which will require more time," Wankhede said.
Said an IAC functionary, "An event was under way at the ground, causing it to be riddled with holes. This is a cause for concern. However, it's the responsibility of the organisers of the preceding event to restore the grounds to its previous even terrain. We are hopeful of being handed over a level plain."
The prolonged indecision over the choice of venue stemmed from the fact that the protest was originally being organised by the Jagruth Nagarik Manch, an unregistered organisation, which was being charged exorbitant and unaffordable commercial rent rates by the MMRDA.
After the organisational responsibilities were transferred to a registered NGO Public Cause Research Foundation the development body granted IAC the concession it had been asking for.
The development body has rented out a 20,000 square-ft plot of the ground to the IAC, as well as a parking lot spanning 10,000 square feet.
The plot will be occupied by Team Anna from December 26-30, the first and last days in the period being used to erect and dismantle the podium that will be used for the protests from December 27-29.
Public Cause Research Foundation, the NGO that is organising the event, will be paying MMRDA rental charges of Rs 7.78 lakh for the entire period of tenancy, in addition to a refundable security deposit worth Rs 5.29 lakh.
The rent rate has been brought down from Rs 10.80 per square metre to Rs 6.80 per square metre, as the registered organisation is entitled to concessions from MMRDA.