‘Flex Banners, Hoardings, Posters Put Up Illegally must be Removed’- DC of DK Ravi Kumar

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‘Flex Banners, Hoardings, Posters Put Up Illegally must be Removed’- DC of DK Ravi Kumar

Mangaluru: If you go around the city it looks like the ‘Battle of Hoardings & Banners’ was put up illegally with no permission taken from Mangaluru City Corporation, and for that matter, it looks like the MCC Commissioner Channabasappa, Mayor Jayanand Anchan, MCC Revenue Officers and other concerned staff have been sleeping with no action taken when such publicity materials are being displayed, thereby losing revenue for the Corporation. We have seen and heard the MCC mayors and Commissioner promising to take strict action against those who put up banners/hoardings/posters illegally, but it was nothing but a drama, where the saying “We Don’t Practice What We Preach”. The last MCC Commissioner Akshay Sridhar who promised to take action against such violators left before taking any action.

Dakshina Kannada DC Ravi Kumar M R

And now we have yet another MCC Commissioner and a Mayor who both have turned a blind eye against the illegal banners/hoardings mushrooming in the City, and it seems like they give a damn about it or are probably under pressure from the ruling BJP council members of MCC, including the two MLA’s. And when the concerned authorities of MCC have remained numb in taking any action on this issue, finally our beloved Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Ravi Kumar MR has stepped forward to deal with this issue. Whether he will stick to his promise, we will have to cross our fingers, wait and see for positive results.

In the wake of the upcoming assembly elections, the Dakshina Kannada district administration under the leadership of DC has decided to take measures and keep an eye on unauthorised banners and flexes, as well as public events that are held without taking permission. The DC has stated that all banners, flexes and writing on walls that have been put up without obtaining permission in the city and rural areas must be removed. Local bodies have been directed to take action on an everyday basis, against the unauthorised display of banners and buntings, under the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981, and submit a report to the DC.

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. 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.

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. 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.

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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