Removal of Hoardings on Apr 1 probably was Mayor’s ‘April Fool Day’ Joke
Mangaluru: Seems like there is a hoarding/billboard/banner epidemic in Mangaluru! At every nook and corner of the city, you will see illegal flex hoardings or banners advertising about school admissions, opening of a showroom or shifting of a supermarket, concert or beach party announcements, conventions or public gathering announcements, political gathering etc etc- and the funny part is that none of these have the permission from Mangaluru City Corporation to put them up. Then why is MCC not doing anything about this illegal practice, which is losing revenue due to these free advertising.
Mangaluru City Corporation (MCC), the custodian of public places in the city, is yet to exercise its powers under the Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981, with banners, hoardings and buntings dotting across the city. At the same time, the corporation has also failed to enforce the ban on plastic as per the notification issued by the government on March 11 last as every such display material is of plastic. Newly elected Mayor Kavitha Sanil had recently said that the civic body would undertake a drive to remove all such illegal hoardings from April 1. However, the corporation is yet to act on the promise even as hoardings congratulating the Mayor on her new assignment are increasing every day. Also, hoardings congratulating Deputy Mayor Rajaneesh are still seen at various spots.
Flex hoardings of political leaders congratulating them for “accomplishing tasks”, temple programmes, office-bearers elected to various associations, etc., are some of the commonly seen display items on the roadside across the city. Their numbers only go up at vantage locations, particularly at traffic junctions thereby distracting motorists too. The reason for increasing of such illegal hoardings is due to the lack of penal action against violators of the law. When Mayor and Deputy Mayor themselves break the law, “When the hoardings are erected congratulating the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and other political leaders, who would dare take action against those responsible for such hoardings.
Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981, says “Whoever by himself or through another person, affixes to, or erects, inscribes or exhibits on, any place open to public view any advertisement without the written permission of the local authority having jurisdiction over such area, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both.”. Apart from Mayor’s promise to remove these hoardings/banners on April 1, even the Corporation Commissioner Mohammed Nazeer had told media that the civic body would undertake a clearance drive from Monday. But until now no action has been taken.
With dozens of flex hoardings-banners all over the city and even posters pasted on most of the walls in the city- this is not what you call “Swachh Bharath’ or for that matter “Swachh Mangaluru”. How hard is for MCC to take action against such people when they know who did it- the posters and banners are the proof. Apart from this, even the Mayor and Deputy Mayor themselves are not keen to get flex hoardings, congratulating them, removed-these illegal hoardings are still there all over the City. Court orders, MCC advertising laws, strict directives and an exhaustive list of Dos and Don’ts notwithstanding, the menace of rickety and illegal hoardings continues to haunt Mangaloreans. Adding to the concern is a load of unlawful advertising boards, hoardings, flexes and uni-poles that continue to exist, despite MCC’s rules and regulations on outdoor advertising. Probably MCC has no count of illegal hoardings in the city and is doing nothing to stop it. Apart from the display of flex hoardings, MCC has not taken any action against businesses still using plastic bags for packing groceries or other items.
Currently, the main areas flaunting’ these hoardings include Hampankatta Circle, Clock Tower Circle, Kankanady Pumpwell, Bunts Hostel Circle, Jyothi Circle, Lady Hill Circle, MG Road, among others. Most of these advertisers are yet to follow the norms. As per court ruling, these hoardings are “hazardous to traffic”. But the problem with MCC is that they will get into action for one day and remove all the illegal hoardings, and thereafter for a month or two months, they keep quiet.
MCC needs to ban these illegal hoardings-areas are to be designated as “no-hoardings zones”. Strict action should be taken against those breaking the laws. All hoardings that compromise road safety are to be removed, especially those at Hampankatta Circle. MCC should launch a drive to remove all illegal billboards immediately, and also warn about fines if hoardings are erected illegally. MCC should remove hoardings from city junctions as they are hazardous to traffic. In any case hoardings/flex banners, whether legal or illegal, should not be allowed to deface natural beauty, the city’s skyline, or cause safety hazards. No-hoarding zones are the need of the hour!