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Poll fever causes rash of hoardings

Illegal political flexes have taken over Bengaluru, and citizens tell us how their daily lives are being affected

Published: 24th January 2018 11:23 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th January 2018 07:28 AM   |  A+A-

Political flexes block footpaths at HAL 2nd Stage  Pushkar V

Express News Service

BENGALURU: With elections right around the corner, flexes, banners and massive hoardings with politicians are seen all across the city, causing visual pollution and inconveniencing citizens. Residents say these flexes are marring the appearance of various parts of the city.

During the monthly council meeting in December last year, Mayor R Sampath Raj announced that the corporation would be cracking down on this matter, and that ward engineers would be held responsible for illegal posters, banners and flexes in their jurisdictions. However, citizens from across the city say more hoardings are sprouting up, some even as tall as 50ft, which is affecting everyday life.
Pedestrians hit

These hoardings, some of which are erected directly on footpaths, are affecting pedestrian movement. Chitra Venkatesh, Kumara Park (West) RWA, says, “With elections around the corner, every opportunity is being taken to put up banners and posters – birthdays, someone winning a particular post and wishing citizens for festivals. All strategic points, morning walk paths, fencing around parks and temple fronts are being used for this purpose. It reminds me of the lists of wanted criminals, we see at railways and police stations."

PK Gopalkrishnan, from Indiranagar stage-1 RWA, says, "I don't understand why these hoardings have to be erected on footpaths. On any given day, at places such as the KFC signal, one can find 2-3 hoardings blocking the path. These are already heavily congested, commercial areas, and these hoardings make it difficult for us to walk."

Small-time politicians follow suit

Chitra says that these days it is common to see hoardings with MPs' pictures now, as opposed to only those having pictures of MLAs and corporators earlier. Rajkumar Dugar from Vasanthnagar RWA says that not only are these hoardings 'ugly' and causing all kinds of problems, the sheer numbers and sizes of the posters show that there is competition among the politicians. "Seeing how politicians aren't being penalized, this encourages even the small-time politicians to follow suit."

Leaders are remembered for work, not b’day wishes

Comedian Danish Sait, who just released his political satire Humble Politician Nograj, says that ironically, when he was driving around, he saw that a poster had been pasted on top of his own movie's poster!  "These hoardings, flexes and posters should be done away with. When we were doing a little bit of research on them for the film, we found that they are put up for recall value purposes, but that thinking is wrong. People would remember a politician for the good work he/she has done, and not remember him/her for whether they wished citizens for Eid, Pongal and New Year's by way of these flexes," says Danish.

Flexes are eco-hazards

A lot of these posters are printed on plastic, which is banned, and the Mayor had also said earlier that only eco-friendly posters, printed on cloth for example, would be permitted. Peter Samson, from the Viparwa RWA, has started a campaign ‘Flex Mukta Bengaluru, Flex Mukta Election’, which he intends to keep going till the elections. He had also written a letter earlier this month addressed to the BBMP Commissioner, asking for immediate action.

He says, "The people putting up these hoardings are in contempt of court. Not only are these causing problems to citizens and occupying public spaces, they are also non-biodegradable.Hence, they are burned, leading to release of carcinogens," adding that there

Flexes are eco-hazards

A lot of these posters are printed on plastic, which is banned, and the Mayor had also said earlier that only eco-friendly posters, printed on cloth for example, would be permitted. Peter Samson, from the Viparwa RWA, has started a campaign ‘Flex Mukta Bengaluru, Flex Mukta Election’, which he intends to keep going till the elections.

He had also written a letter earlier this month addressed to the BBMP Commissioner, asking for immediate action. He says, "The people putting up these hoardings are in contempt of court. Not only are these causing problems to citizens and occupying public spaces, they are also non-biodegradable.Hence, they are burned, leading to release of carcinogens," adding that there is no point putting up so many hoardings and turning Bengaluru into garbage city.  is no point putting up so many hoardings and turning Bengaluru into garbage city.

Who's going to take them down?

Some ward engineers responsible for illegal flexes, as per the Mayor's statement last month, say they are removing them. BS Prasad, chief engineer, west zone and Prabhakar, chief engineer, south zone allege that they are spending hours each day to take 200 to 250 down daily. Last year, complaints were filed with the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF)but a source from the BMTF says that, this year, no complaints have been filed. Peter Samson says these hoardings cause losses to the revenue department and permission needs to be taken from the BBMP for erecting them, which is not being done. Citizens say penalties, if collected, would run into crores. Deputy commissioner (revenue), says it is the assistant commissioner (advertisement) Nagaraju C, who would know who can be held responsible. But, he was unavailable for comment.

In some areas, these hoardings are blocking civic amenity buildings too. Apart from footpaths, residents say that important building boards and signs are being blocked by these hoardings. A resident of Halasuru says that some of these hoardings are as large as 50ftx50ft.

“Hoardings have been put up on the footpath around Ulsoor Lake, and I have seen many walkers in the morning trying to navigate their way around them. What is worse is that the board for the BSNL office has been blocked by several posters,” he says, adding that if the High Court can order the BBMP to collect penalties from advertisers for erecting illegal hoardings, why aren’t politicians being penalized as well?

Avinash P, who stays in Hennur, says that his area is filled with these flexes - at every junction and on every pole. “I was coming back home late at night by bike once, and had taken a different route. I actually managed to miss the turn I was supposed to take because the road sign was blocked by posters.”

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