Friday, December 23, 2011

Fresh hurdles over Anna Hazare's fast venue in Mumbai

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There are more problems for Team Anna over its protest venue in Mumbai after the state sports department denied permission for a section of Azad Maidan which it controls.

Mumbai Police, which expects a very large crowd, had asked Team Anna to get special permission for this section of Azad Maidan as well to accommodate so many people.

The police had said that only then would it issue the clearances needed for the three-day protest camp which begins on December 27.

Earlier, after Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan failed to respond to Team Anna's plea to waive or reduce the fees for using the MMRDA ground at the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), India Against Corruption members on Thursday moved court as its last resort to get a bigger space for its agitation.

At the same time , they inalized on Azad Maidan as the centrestage for the anti-corruption crusade. The petition will be heard today, when hundreds of Anna supporters are expected to be present at the Bombay high court. The plea is against the Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority and the state government. The prayer is that people of Mumbai are being denied of the citizens right to stage a demonstration at a venue , which is free of cost and has adequate infrastructure. The plea will be heard at 11am in the HC by Justice Majmudar and Justice Bhatkar , said Praful Vora , co-ordinator , IAC Mumbai.

The protest will start on December 27, when activist Anna Hazare will launch hunger strike for an indefinite period , demanding that the Parliament passes his version of the Lokpal Bill.

Besides the CM not replying to the IACs application , the MMRDA has also rejected the request to lower the rates for the BKC ground. Though Jagrut Nagrik Manch-along with the IAC, it is also organizing the protest-asked for a lower fee saying it was an NGO, the government agency remained firm in its decision to charge the usual rates meant for commercial organizations. Even as they rejected the Manchs request , MMRDA officials said the documents provided did not prove that it was registered as a voluntary organization. According to the MMRDA, the Manch , which represents Anna Hazare , will have to pay Rs 11.3 lakh if it uses its ground from December 26 to 30. If a deposit for security arrangements is included , the cost will add up to Rs 19.1 lakh.

Considering the astronomical amount it will have to spend on the MMRDA ground, Team Anna had, for the time being, settled for Azad Maidan as the venue for its protest. We have received a verbal permission to use Azad Maidan and we will get a conditional nod for it tomorrow , said Ruben Mascarenhas , youth co-ordinator , IAC Mumbai. We have been denied our right to protest and we have shifted the venue to Azad Maidan. The volunteers are also a bit worried about Azad Maidan as the ground can accommodate 4,000 people , while more than 1 lakh are expected to join the fast rally.

Team Anna has also launched a website for jail bharo andolan to be held on December 30.

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