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'Don't put our faces on illegal banners'

After the Bombay High Court panned the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for unlawful hoardings defacing the city, political parties are now taking precautionary steps to avoid embarrassment. The first to lead the pack is Mayor Sunil Prabhu, who has appealed to his party workers not to put up his photo or name on any posters or banners.


Pack it up: BMC workers take down illegal hoardings at Elphinstone Road after the HC directive last week

“I always tell my party workers not to put up any illegal banners, especially those with my name or picture on them, and I appeal to them again. I don’t encourage erecting illegal banners. I have time and again asked my co-workers to display only those banners for which permissions have been taken,” said the mayor. Asked if party workers do not heed his appeal, the mayor said, “I am confident that the workers will obey. We will appeal through our senior leaders.”

Last Wednesday, the HC directed the BMC to tear down all illegal hoardings in the city within 24 hours. The administration, in an overdrive of hectic cleaning activity, deployed three times more resources — manpower and vehicles — on Thursday to peel the eyesores off the city’s streets. The action, which began at 7 in the morning until 11 pm, resulted in over 5,000 illegal banners and posters being torn down. Of these, over 4,000 banners were political.

After the HC edict, politicians started singing a different tune, one that doesn’t encourage illegitimate posters blemishing the city, 80 per cent of which are political, as per an officials estimate. After Mayor Prabhu, Congress leader Dnyanraj Nikam also instructed his party workers not to raise banners in the city. “There is no need to put up any posters. I appealed to my party workers immediately after the HC directive,” said Nikam.

The Bharatiya Janata Party thinks there ought to be some guidelines for allowing political banners on some occasions. “A ban is not the answer to all the questions. There should be a policy for political banners, wherein payment, size, spot and duration should be fixed,” said BJP leader Dilip Patel. Patel has instructed workers through SMS not to put up any illegal posters or use his name or picture on them.

Congress corporator Sunil More said that ‘birthday’ banners can be banned but there should be a limited scope to erect posters regarding social work to make people aware of government policies.  

No hoardings for 2 months
The city may look spic and span for at least the next two months, with the BMC refraining from giving permission to erect political banners. “We issued an order on Saturday not to permit any political posters till further notice,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Bhosle. The BMC is working on new guidelines and till they are finalised, no new permissions will be given for political banners, he said. Sources said it would take not less than two months to formulate guidelines.  

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