Trying to tackle the menace of illegal usage of flex boards and cut outs in the name of publicity, BBMP Commissioner Rajneesh Goel has tightened the grip on the zonal officers. As a result 96 criminal cases pertaining to cheap publicity have been registered against various film producers, politicians and other organisations.
Time and again, Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has been criticised by the High Court, civic experts and the media for ignoring the menace created by this illegal and cheap publicity practice. The Commissioner of BBMP recently came down heavily on those who put up illegal hoardings and flex boards and stated that criminal cases under Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act of 1981 will be filed against those who undertake such practices. When City Express spoke to Rajneesh Goel, he said, “I reviewed the East Zone and approximately 1000 cases of illegal publicity came to light. After all law is above everyone and it needs to be obeyed at any cost. Hence, we will make sure that irrespective of whether it is a hoarding or flex board, the agency behind the board will be held responsible.” However, E G Jaideep, a software entrepreneur who has been constantly fighting for the cause said, “Such statements keep coming once in a while but what bothers me is its implementation. The general public should also join hands with the authority to ensure that the greenery of the city remains intact.” The onus of prevention and taking action against persons who disfigure public property has been decentralised and lies with the seven Joint Commissioners (JCs) in the city. Jaideep added, “These JCs have not been effective in controlling this menace because they say that they are threatened by ‘political’ and ‘rowdy’ elements and are also short staffed to handle the problem as its magnitude has gone out of control. Also, there is no commitment to eradicate the menace of public property disfigurement. Moreover, the police do not take any action without an FIR.” However, the Commissioner points out, “We are not stopping anyone from putting up any hoarding, provided they seek prior permission from the BBMP and comply with all the formalities.”
Sanagappa, in charge of advertisement in BBMP says, “We have been booking cases against those who put illegal hoardings and flex boards in all the zones.”
The penalty for unauthorised disfigurement by advertisement as per The Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfiguration) Act, 1981 states- ‘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 fine which may extend to `1,000 or both.