If this works, the BMC will have struck the most harmonious balance between earning itself some extra moolah and making the city less of an eyesore. Starting September, political banners started fetching the BMC revenue on par with that received from commercial banners, after the corporation hiked the rates for putting up political banners by a whopping 350 per cent, from Rs 40 per square metre to Rs 150 per square metre.
And that’s not all. For every additional square metre of space, the charge now is Rs 100 per square metre, in stark contrast to the modest Rs 25 charged earlier for every extra square metre. This means that politicians who would have to pay Rs 65 for a two square metre poster now have to cough up Rs 250 for a poster of the same dimensions.
The decision was reportedly taken by the BMC to curb preferential treatment given to political outfits as well as to rake in more profits, keeping in mind that political banners far outnumber commercial ones in the city these days.
The hike, however, seems to have acted as a deterrent of sorts. The implementation of the new rates in September came hand in hand with a dip in demand.
While 5,881 posters were taken down at the end of August, only 3,133 were brought down in September. It waits to be seen if the dip will be sustained this Diwali season.
Licence Superintendent SP Bande said, “This was just a way to give equal importance to the common citizens and politicians in the city. We circulated the circular so everyone could follow it, and strict action is taken against those who don’t pay. Any irregularities and illegalities are immediately taken care of.”
Citizens’ groups in the city, however, are of the opinion that increasing the rates won’t make a difference to politicos, who don’t pay most of the time. Vidya Vaidya, a member of the H-West Citizen Federation, said, “These political leaders don’t pay anyway, so I don’t think an increase in the rates would matter to them. If the BMC really wants to do something, they should actually assign personnel to stop politicians and prevent them from putting up 100 banners when they only have permission for 10.”
Nayna Kathpalia, co-convenor at Citispace, said, “I don’t think this can be a deterrent. But this can surely be a profit-making venture for the BMC.”
Did you know?
The Corporation allows only 10 political banners per ward for five days legally.