THE long-standing disagreement between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and Procam International, the organisers for the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon, over fees for the event has escalated to a legal quarrel as the organisers have now approached the Bombay High Court seeking relief in the matter. In a petition filed earlier this month, the organisers asked for a waiver of the fee charged by the BMC, among other prayers. Earlier this year, the BMC had levied a fee of Rs 5.48 crore for the event, which included charges for advertisements and a laser show, just before it was to take place on January 15. The original fee quoted by the superintendent of licences included advertisement fees for hoardings and the laser show amounting to Rs 76.8 lakhs, ground rent of Rs 1.97 crores and a refundable security deposit of Rs 2.74 crores.
The organisers paid Rs 22.9 lakh to the BMC and requested the civic body to fix a meeting to resolve the issue after the event. While the BMC allowed the event to take place, after conducting a hearing with organisers, it waived the security deposit and instructed them to pay a reduced fee of Rs 2.74 crore towards advertisement charges and ground rent, calculated as monthly charges. More than three months since the BMC’s order was issued by deputy municipal commissioner Prakash Patil, Procam International has not paid the amount and referred to the fee as “unjust, unreasonable, illegal and without any basis”. In the petition filed on September 6, referring to the Mumbai Marathon event that is scheduled in January next year, Procam has approached the High Court to direct the BMC to not withhold any permission and approval citing outstanding dues until the conclusion of the case.
It has also demanded that the BMC gives compensation of legal costs and not take any coercive step against them. Arvind Reddy, coordinator of Procam, said they had to approach the High Court since there was no other way of resolving the situation. “The BMC charged us for 30 days, which doesn’t go with the law, as we have always been charged for the two days of the event. Since we couldn’t resolve the matter with the corporation, we had to involve a third party and now the High Court will decide,” he said.
Reddy added that they have already started preparing for next year’s Mumbai Marathon. “We have been in touch with the police and owing to the ongoing work on MG Road, we are working out certain changes that will have to be made. This year, the event is scheduled to be held on January 21. Typically, we apply for permission from the BMC in October every year, and we will do the same this year as well,” he said. Civic officials, however, said they would not allow next year’s event to be held unless Procam clears the dues. “The BMC had informed them about the charges before the event. They had assured us that they would resolve the matter after the event and in good faith, we allowed them to conduct the marathon. They, however, have refused to pay the outstanding amount and we cannot allow it for another year, which we will mention in our affidavit,” said an official.