Mumbai: While the Tata Mumbai Marathon 2019 is set to be flagged off today, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Procam International, the company organising the event, are having a run-in at the Bombay High Court. The tussle is over the non-payment of ground rent, advertisement fees and security deposits to the BMC by Procam international. In a writ petition filed by Procam, a division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising Justices Ranjit More and Bharati Dangre, passed orders allowing the display of advertisements, hoardings and laser show at the marathon, without insisting on payments to the BMC. Earlier the BMC had demanded advertisement fees of Rs 1,37,31,887, ground rent of Rs 3,60,78,342 and security deposit of Rs 1,37,37,887, totalling more than Rs 6 crore. This is double the amount demanded by the BMC last year. For the Mumbai Marathon 2018, Procam was charged over Rs 3.66 crore.
“As per the norms prescribed by the BMC, the charges increase by 10 per cent per year,” said a civic official involved in the proceedings. When the court sought an explanation for the doubling of charges this year, the BMC’s lawyers were unable to provide a satisfactory explanation. In 2018, Procam had approached the high court with a grievance over advertisement fees and ground rent. The division bench of the court had, on January 12, 2018, by way of interim relief, directed the corporation to permit the event, subject to a security deposit of Rs 79,60,976 and the payment of Rs 26,00,000 before January 15, 2018. Procam complied. The court, on December 10, 2018, had also ordered the corporation to refund the security deposit of Rs 79,60,976 within a week, with 6 per cent interest. However, the corporation has failed to do so. This year again Procam has approached the court with the complaint of exorbitant charges. “There is no rationale for the prices charged by the BMC, they are too high. This is why we approached the high court,” said a Procam official. The company has also complained that the hoarding sizes and quantity have been reduced this year. “Despite this, the BMC is demanding an exorbitant price”, the official said. Procam paid the BMC Rs 26 lakh on January 18, 2019, and the court has allowed the event to take place.