Just a fortnight before the launch of the inaugural ‘Indian Grand Prix of the Seas’, preparations for the international event have hit a roadblock. Not granting the organisers permission related to the Marine Drive promenade, the BMC has now directed them to first seek clearance from a Bombay High Court-appointed panel and “only then will the event be considered”, officials said.
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Procam International are the organisers of the international powerboat race in Mumbai. The race is scheduled to take place in the waters off Marine Drive for three days starting on March 2, including 14 participants from various countries. An “unlicensed” promotional event by Procam at the Gateway of India on February 3 was dramatically shut down by the BMC and a bulldozer as Procam had not paid their previous dues of Rs 2.74 crore.
On Tuesday, BMC replied to Procam’s request to set up along the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Road (NS road or Marine Drive). BMC cited a High Court order and directed the organisers to comply with the ruling or else “they will face action deemed fit” by the civic body.
For the event, Procam International has collaborated with the state government and the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation.
The Marine Drive area in South Mumbai was notified as a heritage precinct by the state in May 2015. The HC panel, appointed in November 2015, ruled that since Marine Drive was a heritage precinct there couldn’t be any obstruction to pedestrians in the area.
Retired IAS officer Arvind Reddy, who is a key coordinator for organisers, said they have already approached the committee and awaiting a hearing date.
“After receiving the response from the BMC on February 14 regarding our permissions we have approached the committee. We have given our explanation and presented all documents,” Reddy said. When asked about the unpaid dues of Rs 2.74 crore, Reddy said, “It is a different matter and it is not connected to this event. We have not heard from the BMC since January 18 on the subject.”
Procam International had also organised the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon last month and a day before the event they were issued a notice by the BMC to pay up a fee amounting to Rs 5.48 crore. However, the civic body relented them and allowed the event to be held on January 15 on condition of part payment of a sum of Rs. 2.74 crore. The Mumbai Marathon, which is an annual event for the past 14 years, fell under the category of social service. The organisers have been paying a concessional fee every year. While last year, the organisers had paid a fee of Rs 22,91,780, this year the BMC decided to charge them as per the regular commercial rate.
Meanwhile, according to officials, the motorboat racing event next month is going to have a set up spanning across the Marine Drive promenade with several zones created for various promotions stretching from Nariman Point to the police gymkhana.
On February 20, a cube branding on the water as well as a buoy will be displayed for promotion.
“The Mumbai Port Trust have given us all the permission. The set up on Marine Drive will not spill over the road. It will be exactly like the set up we have during the annual marathon and it will not be too high,” Reddy said.