A month after the Bombay High Court directed the municipal corporations to remove illegal hoardings within a day, it seems the diktat has fallen on deaf ears. It has come to the fore that the PMC’s anti-encroachment department does not even have the exact number of hoardings in the city, leave alone taking action against unauthorised hoardings.
The matter came to light after the anti-encroachment officials remained speechless during the General Body meeting when queried about the exact figures and the action-taken report.
Congress corporator Avinash Bagawe had raised the matterduring the question hour, pointing out that since many years, illegal hoardings at several spots like E-square multiplex, Kalyaninagar riverside, and University Circle were displayed, with no action being taken by the civic body.
In the last five years, PMC has conducted a survey only once to enumerate illegal hoardings in the city. According to May 2012 survey, the city had a total 1,606 legal and 327 illegal hoardings. Out of the 327 illegal hoardings, 239 were removed. But, figures since then are still not available.
When questioned, Ramesh Shelar, head of the encroachment department, could not provide the precise figures of legal and illegal hoardings. Bagawe said, “We have been demanding the statistics since last year. Despite the High Court order, the encroachment department is not doing anything. They are clearly violating the court order. PMC is losing crores of rupees due to illegal hoardings.”
Negating the claims, Shelar said, “We have been conducting action at the ward-level and updating the hoarding status every month. We have recovered a considerable amount of Rs 10,31,65,000, which was pending from hoarding users.”
According to the 2003 hoarding policy, the distance between a chowk and hoarding should not be less than 25-metres, no hoardings would be allowed on footpaths or close to city roads. Bagawe also alleged that not a single hoarding put up in the city is according to the 2003 policy, which means all hoardings should be removed.
Municipal Commissioner Mahesh Pathak said, “We are regularising legal hoardings according to the 2003 policy. The process regarding NOC and recovering amount of tax is ongoing. We have arranged the meeting with traffic police regarding this issue.”