The decision of Kozhikode Corporation Council to hike the rent for Town Hall and Tagore Hall, two popular venues for public meetings, has triggered loud protests. The protesters have formed a committee and decided to stage a protest meeting in front of the Town Hall at 4.30 p.m. on Saturday.

Navatharangam, a cultural forum of bank employees, which organises programmes frequently at these venues, has also protested against the sharp increase in rent of these halls.

T.K.A. Azees, convener of the protest committee, said the Town Hall which had emerged as a people’s venue for historic meetings had become out of bounds for ordinary people because of the steep increase in its rent.

The daily rent for the Town Hall, which was Rs.200, had been hiked to Rs.1,300 and the rent for Tagore Hall had also been hiked, Mr. Azees said.

The protesters’ committee said it was the duty of local self governments to provide recreational facilities and meeting places for local people, without commercial considerations. “To view these facilities with an eye on profit is against the spirit of the Panchayat Raj system,” Mr. Azees said.

Navatharangam president K.P. Sunderdas said forums that organised cultural programmes every month were the worst affected by the Corporation’s decision. Concession in rent for Corporation-owned venues enjoyed by these organisations was abolished some time ago.

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