Mumbai Marathon runs into hurdle

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For the first time in 13 years, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday warned organisers of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon Procam International, to be held on Sunday, that it would take legal action if advertisement fees, ground rent and security deposit amounting to Rs 5.48 crore is not paid by 2 pm on Saturday.

In a notice issued on Friday, the BMC told organisers that “permission had been granted for the display of advertisements, including hoardings, branding and a laser show” between January 8 and January 15 (till 6pm).

The notice goes on to say: “Therefore you are hereby directed to pay the advertisement fee, ground rent and security deposit, which amounts to Rs 5.48 crore at the award municipal office within 24 hours, failing which all advertisements displayed will be removed and legal action as prescribed in the Act will be initiated without any further notice”.

Organisers had applied for permission to the civic body’s license department, with the department sanctioning the request, and sending the letter to the Assistant Commissioner of A/Ward for processing. While permission was granted, BMC asked organisers to pay the amount within 24 hours or face action.

Civic officials said that although the event is a commercial one, the organisers claim it is for a ’cause’. The civic body extends support to the marathon every year by painting the sides of the roads, speed breakers, beautifying areas along the route and providing additional facilities. The BMC also cleans up before and after the event.

Civic officials said that while organisers earn crores from the event’s proceeds, they pay the civic body only between Rs 16 lakh and Rs 17 lakh, while seeking various exemptions on the ground that the marathon is a charity event.

“If the company doesn’t pay up, we will take action under section 328 and 328 (A) of the MMC Act and Maharashtra Defacement of Properties Act. We will also remove advertisements if the organisers fail to meet the deadline,” said Kiran Dighavkar, Assistant Commissioner of A/Ward.

Civic chief Ajoy Mehta also weighed in on the matter, saying, “The event is a commercial one. Over the last 13 years, the BMC has given enough concessions and exemptions as the marathon was always promoted as a charity event. In 2017, however, we have decided not to provide any exemptions, but will charge organisers as we would organisers of other commercial events.”

A statement issued by organisers said, “The BMC is an integral part of the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon journey. Without their support, an event of this magnitude would not have been successful for 13 years. We are thankful to them for their co-operation and are working closely with them to address the matter.”