Punitive action not possible as offenders are unknown: PMC

Civic officials say political parties mentioned on illegal banners often claim they don't know who put them up

Inadequate laws, political bulldozing and toothless civic officials were some of the reasons cited by insiders in the civic body for the proliferation of illegal hoardings in the city. Although the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) always claims to take immediate action against illegal hoardings, insiders in the Sky Sign department said it was an eyewash as party workers later threaten them with "dire consequences". 

Mushrooming: Sources in the PMC say inadequate laws, political
intimidation and lax officials were the reasons illegal hoardings were
proliferating in the city. pic/Krunal Gosavi

"We always take serious note of illegal hoardings and banners in various parts of the city under the jurisdiction of the PMC and remove them on a daily basis. The department of encroachment and sky sign together take action against illegal banners," said Ramesh Shelar, deputy commissioner, encroachment department, PMC.

Shelar added that punitive action could not be taken since most hoardings were illegal.  "When we approach the persons whose organisation's name is mentioned on the banner, they deny any involvement claiming unknown persons have put them up using their name. This is when we have to file cases against unknown persons," said Shelar.

In the year 2009, the responsibility of taking action against illegal hoardings was given to as many as 14 ward offices. "Illegal hoardings still came up even after the decentralisation," said Tukaram Shinde, chief licence officer of the Sky Sign department. Corporators who do display hoardings on various occasions said the licence fee for a hoarding was higher than the cost of a small banner and so people put them up illegally. 

"Hoarding is the easiest medium to reach out to thousands of people at a time," said a BJP worker. "I would agree that they should be legal, but the PMC should reduce the exorbitant rent it charges." The party worker added that displaying large banners had become a muscle-flexing tactic because of which they were proliferating. 

Pulling them down
In September alone, the encroachment department took action against 14,000 illegal hoardings while in October, 13,000 banners were removed. However, no action has been taken against the big banners which belong to mainstream political parties. 

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