BENGALURU: The Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Council is likely to ban advertisement hoardings across the city, but a final decision will be taken only after consultation with legal experts.
At the Council meeting called to discuss starred questions on Tuesday, councillors, cutting across party lines, took officials to task over the large number of illegal hoardings in the city, especially given that Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has called for a ban on flexes and banners.
Kadu Malleshwara ward councillor Manjunatha Raju said every year, BBMP expects hundreds of crores as advertisement tax. But, on an average, just around `20 crore is collected, and of this, around `6 crore is spent on officials’ salary, legal fees and for removal of illegal hoardings. “If we ban advertisement hoardings, we can depute these officials to verify properties,” he said.
The Palike’s Taxation and Finance Committee has approved the ban. “We have not collected any tax from them for the past one year. This is the right time to enforce the ban,” he said.
Four months ago, ruling party leader N R Ramesh had captured videos of more than 21,000 illegal hoardings and presented them to the commissioner. Kacharakanahalli ward councillor Padmanabha Reddy claimed that the authorities had not acted on this. “The officials are hand in glove with the advertisement mafia. Advertisers get permission for one hoarding, but put up four or more hoardings or take permission for one size, but end up placing a bigger hoarding. On an average, BBMP is
losing `250 crore a year and so, one can imagine the losses in the past five years,” he said. “Ban advertisements completely. They are not helping the public anyway,” he noted.
He added that officials have allowed advertisers to put up hoardings even at some burial grounds. “Did the ones who have been laid to rest apply for the hoardings?” Ramesh asked.
Opposition party leader Manjunath Reddy claimed that many advertisement agencies are owned by the kin of BBMP officials. He called for a probe into the matter by the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force or the Criminal Investigation Department.
B R Nanjundappa, senior BJP councillor from JP Park ward, also criticised film producers who look for “free publicity” for their films by pasting movie posters on city walls without permission.
COMMISSIONER BACKS CALL
BBMP Commissioner M Lakshminarayana said imposing a ban on advertisements would be good for the city. “You (councillors) take a decision and we will enforce it,” he said. He said a special cell comprising advocates would be set up to look into the pending cases relating to advertisements. “We also have a list of ad tax defaulters and will take action against them,” he said. He said BBMP was serious about tackling the illegal hoardings menace. “We need to conduct special drives every week with the help of BMTF and the local police force. We will target the known illegal advertisements first. We will also ask the public to inform us of illegal hoardings in their localities,” he said.