Team Anna wants refund for 1 day, MMRDA refuses

After haggling over rent amount in the run-up to fast, IAC now wants Rs 1.9 lakh back, as the protest wrapped up a day early due to Anna's illness.

Having vociferously asked for a discount on the rent of activist Anna Hazare's fast venue in the run-up to the protest that was called off a day early, the event's organisers now wants that day's rent back. 

Ground realities: Workers clear up the MMRDA ground, after Anna 
Hazare's protest was called off a day early. Anna broke his fast on 
December 28 because of ailing health, but supporters had said that a 
poor turnout had disappointed him. Pic/Vijay Bhate

India Against Corruption (IAC) members rented out the MMRDA ground at BKC at Rs 5.70 lakh for the three-day agitation for a strong Lokpal bill in the midst of a dramatic negotiation, but were forced to call it off on the second day itself. And now, they claim that since they didn't use the ground on the third day, they want their rent money -- a sum of Rs 1.9 lakh -- back. 

Money matters: Public Cause Research Foundation, the event organiser, 
had booked the MMRDA ground at BKC after a payment of Rs 7.78 lakh 
for five days. File pic

Anna broke his fast -- scheduled to be held from December 27 to 29 -- on December 28, because of ailing health, but supporters in the ground said tha tthe  poor turnout had disappointed him. By evening the same day, the ground was devoid of any protesters. On December 30, IAC dispatched a letter to MMRDA, asking them to refund the security deposit as well as the rent for the day they didn't use the ground. 

Anjali Damania of IAC said, "The MMRDA ground was vacated on December 28. We had permission to use the ground till December 29. So logically, MMRDA should hand over to us the rent money for the day we didn't use the ground." 

The ground was booked by the Public Cause Research Foundation after a payment of Rs 7.78 lakh for five days. Of this, Rs 5.70 lakh was rent for the three days of the protest (December 27-29), and Rs 1.36 lakh was charged for the day before and after the agitation, when the setting up and dismantling of the stage and other utilities was to take place. 

This means that apart from the Rs 5.29 lakh that the foundation paid for the deposit, it also wants Rs 1.90 lakh as refund for not using the ground on December 29. According to Damania, the MMRDA should should use its discretionary powers and pay heed to their demand. 

"We have been told that if there has been any precedent of the same, we will get the money back," said an IAC volunteer. But MMRDA has some other plans. The authority's Joint Project Director Dilip Kawatkar said, "How can we refund them the money as they handed over the ground to us only on December 30, the day the agreement came to an end anyway."

Rs 5.7 lakh
The amount IAC paid MMRDA for the 3-day protest

Per sq m charges
MMRDA had given them 30,000 sq m of the ground of which they were allowed to use 20,000 sq m for the protest (at the rate of Rs 6.80 per sq m as rent for the 3-day event) and the rest for parking (at the rate of Rs 5.40 per sq m). On December 26 and December 30, the MMRDA charged Rs 3.40 per sq m for giving out 20,000 sq m for preparations of the event and clearing the ground after the event respectively. 

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