No hoardings within 100 metres of city's heritage structures

After public hearing, civic body agrees with suggestions made by activists

Though the state government has imposed certain restrictions on all municipal corporations, it is seen that the rules are seldom followed by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). Now, some heritage and environment activists in the city have succeeded in pressuring the PMC into not allowing sticking of bills or putting up of hoardings within 100 metres of any heritage site.

Hidden jewel: The Raste Wada, a heritage building in Rasta Peth, is
partially hidden by a hoarding. file pic

A public hearing was conducted regarding the issue before Ramesh Shelar, deputy commissioner, Sky Boards and Signs Department, PMC, and citizens opposed the idea of hoardings near historic places in order to preserve their old-world charm.

After the hearing, the PMC agreed to the suggestion to not allow hoardings within 100 metres of heritage sites.
Two activists, Vaibhav Gandhi and V R Jain, forcefully objected to hoardings near the city's 250 heritage sites. "The advertisement boards and hoardings are not only distracting the attention of the citizens but also making the place ugly and shabby," Gandhi said.

Jain, referring to the PMC's Hoarding Policy of 2010 based on Sections 454 and 455 of the Bombay Municipal Act of 1944, stated that the civic body was not doing anything for the heritage sites even though it was earning money from the hoardings. "The PMC might be earning over Rs 100 crore on the annual hoarding income alone when we consider its total 3,186 crore budget for the year 2010-11," he said.

Conservation architect Kiran Kalamdani welcomed the idea of not sticking bills or hoardings near heritage sites.
"The PMC has many rules but no monitoring system. It should penalise those who violate the rules stringently. Especially, for the 'chamcha hoardings' that have birthday greetings for political leaders and corporators. There is no system to punish them."

Sharwe Dhongade, member, PMC Heritage Cell, said that the PMC should properly formulate its hoarding policy like the municipal corporation in Mumbai. Size, height, angle and position of the hoardings near heritage sites should be made uniform. "PMC officials should visit Dadabhai Navroji Road near CST (Mumbai), where many heritage buildings are located with advertisement hoardings that do not obstruct their view," he said.

Other decisions taken at hearing
>> The PMC should not spend public money on metal grills around newly planted saplings but earn money from those who sponsor them. The PMC should also give responsibility for maintaining these trees to the companies who advertise their names on these grills.
>> Holes should be made on hoardings to prevent them from falling during a storm.
>> The PMC should have its code number on each advertisement so that it can be recognised as one that has been officially approved by the civic body.
>> Ads on lampposts on roads should also mention a toll-free number of the PMC so that citizens can inform the civic body if lights are on during the day. This will result in electricity saving.
>> Chamcha hoardings of political leaders should be removed in time, as it is observed that these birthday hoardings are kept in their place for months.

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