Hundreds of Team Anna volunteers gathered at the sprawling MMRDA grounds in Mumbai on Monday to oversee preparations a day ahead of the three-day “peaceful agitation” by Anna Hazare for a strong Lokpal bill. Hazare is expected to reach the city late in the evening, an aide said. “Annaj is likely to leave Ralegan Siddhi on Monday afternoon. He will visit the Sant Dnyaneshwar Samadhi (at Alandi near Pune) enroute and should reach Mumbai by 9 p.m.,” Hazare’s close associate said.
“However, owing to security concerns, we are not revealing where Annaji would be staying tonight before he begins his fast Tuesday morning,” he added.
Hazare, who is running fever and is troubled by a cough, is adamant on going ahead with his agitation to press for the creation of a strong ombudsman. His agitation will correspond with the three-day extended session of parliament’s winter session to debate the Lokpal bill, which was tabled last week.
As Hazare is all set to reach Mumbai, preparations are in full swing to ready the MMRDA ground, located in the suburban Bandra-Kurla Complex by Monday night, officials said.
Volunteers of Hazare’s India Against Corruption (IAC) are overseeing the preparations at the ground and have finalised the security details and other arrangements.
The 48,000 sq m Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) can accommodate over 60,000 people. However, the authority has only rented out 20,000 sq m for the rally and 10,000 sq m for parking on a rent of Rs.7.78 lakh, with Rs.5.29 lakh as a security deposit.
Around 2,000 constables, 200 sub-inspectors, six platoons of the state reserve police force, three Quick Response Teams and two Bomb Detection and Disposal Squads have been requisitioned for security at the ground.
The ground will have six emergency exits, 16 fire extinguishers and six metal detector units, besides round-the-clock ambulance services.
A special room along with a cot and attached toilet, which will have 24-hour hot water supply, will be provided to Hazare.
“A team of doctors, comprising volunteers, will be present. We will have an information centre, a media room and a registration counter at the venue,” IAC coordinator Mayank Gandhi told reporters here.
A determined Hazare, while addressing the gram sabha at his native village of Ralegan Siddhi Sunday evening, reiterated that he would stage a dharna outside the residences of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi after his three-day fast in Mumbai.
He urged his supporters not to indulge in any violent acts during the three-day agitation.
“Some people are waiting for violence during the agitation. If there is violence, the agitation will be maligned,” he said while addressing residents of his village.