Bengaluru is being hurriedly rid of flex boards, banners and posters after the Karnataka High Court stepped in to end the menace defacing the city. At the last count, around 22,000 illegal flex boards and banners had been removed but the task is cut out for the city corporation with the court breathing down its neck and illegal flex boards continuing to spring up. The practice of erecting boards and banners on roads and public spaces without any care for people’s convenience and safety can be blamed primarily on the political culture.
The tradition is to put up posters, cutouts and flex boards in hundreds to celebrate birthdays of political leaders, big and small, their appointments to certain positions, or sometimes simply to remind people of their political existence. While movie posters and advertisement hoardings do their bit to make the city uglier, the practice of nailing and pasting posters and boards on trees is another annoying practice.
Though the law mandates that permission be taken before putting up flex boards, no one bothers. This is mainly because the law is not enforced strictly and violators are rarely punished. For example, while thousands of posters and boards have been removed in the last few days, FIRs have been registered only in 12 cases and in only one, the accused have been named. This time, the city corporation seems determined to clean up the city, and has rightly imposed a ban on flex boards, banners and posters.
It has even promised to come up with a policy to regulate advertisement hoardings. With the HC assuming for itself the job of monitoring the progress, there seems to be some hope for citizens tired of the flex culture. And it’s a drive worth emulating in other Indian cities as well. Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy has talked about extending it to the entire state. But this shouldn’t end up as a one-time measure. There is no room for slackness in enforcing the ban. What we need are sustained efforts to keep public spaces free of flex boards, banners and posters.