There are a surprisingly large number of people in our city with a desperate need to wish themselves a happy birthday in public. When they aren’t engaged in plastering walls, trees and junctions with these congratulatory messages, they wish other people they know in a similar fashion. What the rest of us have to deal with, in the process, is a never-ending barrage of ugly, illegal hoardings making Mumbai look obnoxious throughout the year.

Take this recent example of posters wishing our Mayor — the first citizen, to put things into perspective — on his birthday. We fail to see why someone has to be wished with a massive poster, when a personal phone call (or SMS for the particularly lazy) ought to serve the purpose just as well.

Assuming these posters are often put up by people desperate to curry favour with some politician or another, we wonder why other avenues like newspapers aren’t used instead. Why deface public property for something that means nothing to the people who actually live or work in that locality?

Sadly, the powers that be also work to eradicate this menace on their own terms. When the BJP put up illegal hoardings welcoming their Presidential candidate earlier this week, for instance, they were removed with surprising efficiency. Hoardings wishing the Mayor, on the other hand, continued to make streets in Goregaon look ugly for much of the day. Nothing was done to remove them.

What our civic body fails to take into account (or chooses to ignore) is the fact that banners are bad for the environment. They ruin our public spaces, of course, but are also usually made of non-biodegradable flex material. This means those ugly posters continue to damage us in some way years after they are removed. Who do we hold accountable?