Are FLEX Hoardings / Banners Really Banned in Mangaluru City? Answer: Absolutely NO!

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Are FLEX Hoardings / Banners Really Banned in Mangaluru City? Answer: Absolutely NO!

Mangaluru: Before he got transferred on 2 February 2023, Mangaluru City Corporation Commissioner Akshy Sridhar had said the following in December 2022, however, nothing has changed since then, other than the increase in FLEX banners/hoardings of businesses, shows, Offers etc, along with those of politicians boasting about the developmental work done by them but using taxpayers money. If you look around Mangaluru, the entire so-called Smart City is defaced with illegal Flex hoardings/banners and no action has been taken whatsoever, either by the new MCC Commissioner Channabasappa K or the MCC Mayor Jayanand Anchan.

This is what Akshy Sridhar said, “Lawful action will be initiated against vendors who continue to use plastic, and display flex hoardings/banners etc. According to an order of the Karnataka Government dated March 11, 2016, single-use plastic has been banned. This includes plastic bunting, plastic flex, plates, flags, spoons and thermocol, and hotels, shops, malls and street vendors that come under MCC limits to adhere to the government order. Despite the order, several establishments have been utilizing banned plastic materials and causing inconvenience for waste management and harm to the environment. It has come to our attention that animals have been consuming waste from discarded plastic bags and dying. It has also been noticed that coconut vendors use plastic”

“Consequently, city officials are seizing all plastic materials. Lawful action will be initiated against vendors that continue to use plastic. The city corporation will also take action to remove plastic flex and banners in the city. Those who put up similar banners will face legal action as well. These materials only deface the beauty of the city. The printers of these materials will come under the ambit of offenders. Their license will be cancelled and a fine will be imposed,” said Akshy Sridhar. Okay, well said by him, but in reality, nothing has ever changed except that more and more flex boards are mushrooming at every nook and corner of the City. Now that our former MCC commissioner has been transferred, his assurances never materialized, this report is for the kind attention of the new MCC Commissioner Channabasappa K to do the needful in removing the illegal flex hoardings/banners, (where MCC is losing revenue money by allowing illegal publicity boards) if she still follows the orders of Karnataka Government and Karnataka High court.

Display of Flex Hoardings right across from Mangaluru City Corporation Building -What a joke!

Call it the “Visual Pollution” caused by political hoardings, especially during an election, during festival time etc. On one side these Netas urge people not to use Flex banners, but on the other hand, they are the ones who break the law, regarding the display of illegal flex hoardings/banners banned by the government. They go to educational institutions and urge students to keep the environment clean and green and stay away from using flex and plastic. And those preachings are nothing but bogus and fake talk since they are the first ones to break the rules. And the sad and bad part is that these politicians themselves are breaking the law, which was strictly implemented by the government.

I think there’s a need to break the nexus between corporators, MLAs and bureaucrats when it comes to this flex menace. Most flex boards and hoardings are the work of followers of public representatives of that ward or constituency. Short-staffed MCC is not in a position to deal with these followers who shoo away ground staff. Rumours are that instances of MCC officials being stopped or harassed when they tried to remove flex boards. Flexes come up all of a sudden during festivals, Kambala, School/College admissions, achievements of community leaders etc which have to be later removed by MCC staff. Despite MCC’s drive against illegal flex boards and hoardings, many hoardings and flex boards have surfaced once again-even when there is the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act- But what action, if any, has been initiated against the culprits is not known. By bringing this law, will any of these officials crack down on the flexes the politicians put up? Far from it, they will go after the small local business people who put up small flexes here and there?- and pardon those politicians’ hoardings.

The lethargy of the city corporation has resulted in the mushrooming of such flex hoardings and banners in the city. When the hoardings and banners speak about who put them the corporation could easily find and fine them. But there is no will. As there is no fear of fines or any legal action people have continued to deface public places. The need of the hour is strong penalties and punishment. There’s the punishment of imprisonment of six months or a fine which may extend up to Rs 1,000 or both. So far, there’s only talk about filing criminal cases against erecting illegal flex boards- but no action. This showcases a city made ugly by the haphazard growth of these illegal flex hoardings/banners.

Advertisement billboards are bad enough by themselves and added to that the political hoardings are worse as they are put up anywhere and everywhere and one on top of another and in spaces not meant for hoardings. Most of them are put up for trivial and laughable reasons, and to felicitate political leaders on their “minor” achievement, or welcome them to the city and so on. And then there are those of our popular MLA, along with his team of Corporators putting up flex hoardings and taking credit for the City development work, where the money for the works is from the taxpayers?

The intention of this report with photographs was not to show the ineffectiveness of the drive against the political billboards as some of them have gone now, although many remain particularly in the outskirts of the City-like Kulur, Panambur etc. The drive leaves much to be desired no doubt but it’s a start. I can only hope that it’s not a mere flash in the pan and not restricted to elite areas of the city. Hoardings/banners are also disturbing motorists, affecting their vision in high-traffic areas of the City, especially during the night. Sometimes these banners are a nuisance to vehicle drivers when they hang down loose and hurt motorists. But MCC does not care for the safety of motorists, or pedestrians.

Even though a few ad agencies take permission from MCC to display the banners/hoardings, the majority of the publicity materials that you see around the City are without MCC approval but displayed illegally. Every banner/hoarding that you see around is made of flex/banned plastic. MCC should take strict action on such lawbreakers, but the problem is that politicians from the ruling party use such flexes too. MCC should be held responsible for the disturbance caused to the public due to the installation of such flexes/ad hoardings illegally.

Why allow flex banners of politicians, MLAs, MLC, and even Corporators/MCC Officials to be displayed and no action taken against them? Laws should be equal for everyone, irrespective of caste, religion, etc. Why also allow religious banners to be displayed- this will create confusion among others when they want to display their banners”. How can one expect people to follow the rules, when the government officials themselves break the law? Call them examples of advertising vandalism, and visual pollution or label them as the pox of outdoor advertising!

Though I am not against advertising or politicians, the number of billboards in our cities has reached epidemic proportions and I have developed an allergy to them. And guess what, most of them are illegal. And there are way too many of them. Ours is one of the few countries in the world where hoardings/banners are displayed anywhere and everywhere despite the supreme court order banning hoardings because they are hazardous to motorists. So why are these illegal hoardings/banners still out there on the streets, including those of the politicians-thereby defacing the beauty of the City? Is this what “Swacch Mangaluru” is all about?

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  1. Private shop keepers cannot put up a flex.I have tried it and it was removed the very next day!! why this partiality? Alfie plz get me a answer to this

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