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Political parties oppose removal of illegal hoardings in Mumbai, MCGM tells HC

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai informed the Bombay High Court today that its staff faced strong opposition from political parties while removing illegal posters, banners and hoardings from public places, while BJP and NCP assured that they would not display such visuals anywhere in the state without permission.

"Whenever such posters and hoardings are removed without police help, the concerned staff is beaten up and their vehicles damaged by the political workers," the MCGM said in a note submitted to the Court in this regard. Such ill-treatment results in demoralisation of the staff members and adversely affects their routine work besides causing stress and tension among them, MCGM said.

The licence department of respective wards gives temporary permission to the political parties to display hoardings, posters and banners for a temporary period. However, even after the period is over, such hoardings continue to be displayed by the political parties, MCGM said.

Generally, illegal hoardings are put up in the dead of the night and hence it becomes difficult to catch the people who display such hoardings and banners. In the absence of the persons who put up such visuals, it becomes difficult to file FIR against the guilty, MCGM pointed out. The Municipal body urged the Court to appoint a nodal agency having traffic police, city police and licence department as members.

Action should be taken against the guilty under Defacement Act by the concerned police station. MCGM further informed that it had generated revenue of Rs 36.68 crores during the period January 2011 to March 2013. A total of 1850 complaints were lodged between April 2013 and June 2014 for taking action under the law, it said. Meanwhile, a bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka expressed dissatisfaction over an affidavit filed by BJP saying that it was not exhaustive. NCP too filed an affidavit.

The court also asked the State Government to file its reply to the PIL filed by SuSwarajya Foundation and posted the matter for hearing on August 5. The PIL alleged that no action was being taken by the authorities against political parties who were defacing the State with posters, banners and hoardings without permission.

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