Ramchandra Karve from Thane was weary of the illegal advertisements assaulting his eyes in local trains. So he decided to do something and began gathering the details of the advertisers and calling them up. He gave the information to railway authorities, seeking action.
But he is upset that despite his many complaint letters, and the details he supplied about 12 illegal advertisers -- who use local trains as trash boards to tack up their promos without getting permissions -- the Railway Protection Force has not prosecuted many.
“I have written letters to the rail and RPF authorities and given them a list of details -- like names and numbers of illegal advertisers who regularly paste ads in the trains. But to my surprise, nothing substantial has been done to remove such advertisements. To minimise their (railways’) work, I strived hard and found out the addresses and phone numbers, but to no avail,” said Karve. To follow up, he filed an RTI query with the RPF but was surprised to see the force only acted in two cases, even though he gave details of 12 illegal advertisers.
In the RTI reply, Karve was told that 209 cases of illegal advertisers have been filed between January and June, and fine amounting to Rs 1,78,750 has been realised from them. But of the list of 12 advertisers he gave the RPF, only a couple had been booked. “If I can get their addresses and contact numbers, how can the RPF not find them? It’s a matter of regret as the railway administration has been very slow in initiating action,” said Karve.
Incidentally, due to illegal promotions, the railways is earning less through valid advertisements. “The advertisers who buy ad space in locals by paying money get de-motivated with these illegal advertisers, who publicise without paying a single paisa. Our revenue has declined as advertisers hesitate to give ads when illegal ones are often pasted over valid ads,” a CR official said.
Karve, in his letter, also wrote about innocent passengers getting duped by babas and quacks who fool people with their ‘cure-all’ ads. “Every other day, in newspapers and on TV channels, we come across cases where these babas have duped people of money and committed crimes against women. People get misguided by such advertisers,” Karve said.
Atul Rane, chief public relations officer, CR, said, “As routine, we keep conducting drives against illegal advertisers. We have fined hundreds of them and collected lakhs of rupees as penalty .”