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Forget Mumbai, BMC can't remove illegal posters from its own building

Akhil Bhartiya Sena corporator Geeta Gawli, who is also the chairman of the public health committee, has plastered the walls of the BMC’s headquarters in Fort with posters; in her defence, she says they were put up to “promote medical activities”; but then, why do they also feature her father Arun Gawli, who is currently in jail for murder?

The BMC, it seems, can’t even keep its own house clean. Illegal hoardings and banners an exercise in self-promotion by political parties had become such an eyesore last year that the Bombay High Court had to intervene and ask the BMC not just to take them down but also take action against those putting up the hoardings.

Also read: BMC promises to make Mumbai banner-free in 3 days

These posters greet anyone who enters the civic body headquarters
These posters greet anyone who enters the civic body headquarters

Now, more than a year after the HC ruling, mid-day has found that not only has the BMC failed to eradicate the menace from the city’s streets, it hasn’t even been able to do so in its own headquarters.

The Akhil Bhartiya Sena’s Geeta Gawli, who is the chairman of the health committee, has plastered the walls of the BMC’s headquarters in Fort with illegal posters. So much so, that her face, along with that of her jailed father Arun Gawli, is the first thing you see when you enter the building.

Should you miss the poster the first time, Gawli has ensured that it greets you on either side of the lifts, and even on the walls along the staircases, for the more health conscious. Walk around the lobby, the corridors, pretty much anywhere, and you’re sure to find the smiling, serene faces of the Gawlis looking down on you.

And Gawli is not alone. Several posters bearing the BMC insignia have been put up around the building without the necessary permissions from the civic body.

BMC speak
When mid-day brought the issue to the notice of Sharad Bande, licence superintendent at the BMC, he said his department hadn’t issued any licences for posters being pasted on the building’s walls.

Geeta and Arun Gawli’s smiling faces greet you almost everywhere you go in the BMC headquarters
Geeta and Arun Gawli’s smiling faces greet you almost everywhere you go in the BMC headquarters

“If there are posters inside the BMC building, the maintenance department is responsible for them. You’ll need to check with them on how the posters are there inside the building. This doesn’t come under my department.”

Geeta and Arun Gawli’s smiling faces greet you almost everywhere you go in the BMC headquarters
Posters plastered near the elevators

Additional Municipal Commissioner Mohan Adtani, however, promised stringent action. “The posters for which permissions have been taken will stay and the others will be taken down immediately. An FIR will be registered against those whose names are there on the posters defacing the building.”

BMC officials themselves conceded that it was odd that no action had been taken against the illegal posters so far, despite them being in areas where they would be seen by officials of the stature of the municipal commissioner and even the mayor.

HC order
Last year, the Bombay High Court had come down heavily against illegal hoardings, posters and banners defacing the city. It had asked the BMC to take down the posters and levy fines and take action against people who had put them up.

After this, the BMC had come out with a ‘no political banner/poster rule’, which is yet to be passed. Earlier this month, political parties had submitted affidavits to the High Court, stating that they would not put up illegal hoardings anymore, but did so even during the Dahi Handi festivities.

Political trajectory
Geeta Gawli, a corporator from Byculla area of South Mumbai, belongs to the Akhil Bhartiya Sena, founded by her father and former gangster Arun Gawli, who is in jail for life after he was convicted for murder. Geeta’s party won two seats during the BMC elections and decided to ally with the Shiv Sena, for which she was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Health Committee.

The other side
Geeta Gawli told mid-day that the use of the word ‘illegal’ for her posters was wrong because they are meant to promote healthy living. “You can’t call them illegal. There are many things that are illegal, but my posters aren’t among them. They were put up to promote medical activities,” she said.

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