BENGALURU: Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will now take help of the Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to identify and remove illegal hoardings. The civic agency has so far identified at least 5,700 illegal hoardings in Bengaluru.
Recently, the High Court took the BBMP to task over its poor performance in the collection of advertisement tax. BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad had given an undertaking before the court that it will remove all illegal hoardings in the city in two months’ time.
Prasad said people across the city continue to avoid paying tax and put up both personal as well as commercial hoardings. “Some months ago, we had conducted a survey on illegal hoardings. Based on that, we marked them using GIS. At least 5,507 illegal hoardings have been identified. These were put up by 2,671 agencies,” Prasad said.
The BBMP gathered information from BESCOM about the period of time such illegal hoardings have been getting power connection. “Based on that we issued a demand notice for Rs 323 crore, including Rs 150 crore tax, Rs 150 crore penalty and Rs 23 crore in interest. But the agencies went to the court challenging our decision. Now the court has given a direction to collect Rs 150 crore and half of the penalty and the interest amount put together, which comes to around Rs 90 crore. So, we have to collect around Rs 240 crore,’’ he said.
Further, the commissioner said they will float a tender to remove the illegal hoardings. “Since the court said they will monitor this every fortnight, to begin with, we will remove the display from the hoardings. Meanwhile, we will float a tender to remove the illegal hoardings. We cannot remove it as it costs at least Rs 1 lakh to remove one structure,’’ he said.
However, Mayor G Padmavathi has a different plan. She said there are close to 10,000 hoardings in BBMP limits. Of them, the identified illegal hoardings will be brought down. “Our revenue officials will bring them down in a day with the help of the police. This will be done before this month-end. We will announce the date,’’ she said.
A senior BBMP official, who did not wish to be identified, said this time they have to meet the target and remove it as soon as possible. “Though we have given an undertaking that it will be removed within two months, we do not want to take risk. The High Court judge asked us not to extend the time. They have directed us to cut the salaries of our revenue department officials if they fail to collect tax or remove illegal hoardings. The commissioner and the assistant revenue officials will be held responsible,’’ the official said.
BBMP Standing Committee Chairman (Taxation and Finance) M K Gunashekar said irrespective of political parties or organisations, unauthorised hoardings will be removed. “It is as per the High Court direction. There is no question of bringing pressure on us. No one is above the law. For the last one year, since the matter was before the court, we did not collect advertisement tax. In the coming days, such hoardings will be removed if they are unauthorised,’’ he said.