The civic body and the railways are locked in a bizarre duel over hoardings. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) wants the railways Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR) to pull down hoardings put up on railway land, claiming they are unlawful. The BMC has asserted that the banners are under their purview since they face the city.
“The BMC wants us to remove hoardings which have been put up on our land, on the grounds that we have not taken permission to put them up. They claim these hoardings are causing loss of revenue,” said a Western Railway official. On the Western Railway, the BMC has taken offence at banners put up near railway stations like Charni Road, Dadar, and Matunga Road.
On Central Railway, the BMC wants the authorities to remove hoardings near Dadar, Chembur, Mulund among others. The BMC believes these hoardings are encroachments upon their territory. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Rajendra Vale, in-charge of hoardings, said, “Even if the hoardings are on railway land, they are facing the city and are visible to the public.
That’s why, they come under our purview as per Sections 328 and 328A of the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act.” Officials from the railways said they have been exchanging angry letters with the BMC over the matter. “We can show them (BMC) several spots across our railway stations where their hoardings face railway tracks and are visible to commuters,” retorted a CR official.
The WR rakes in more than Rs 16-18 crore in annual revenue from these hoardings; CR, too, earns around Rs 12-14 crore. Moreover, the railway authorities claim that the civic body has expressed its displeasure even at the dimensions and length of poles on which the hoardings have been put up; the BMC has complained that the banners are too large, prompting the railways to point fingers at hoardings in the city, which, they claimed, are equally bulky and deface the city.
In fact, the issue has escalated so far that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had to discuss it when they met last week. Vale added, “The railways are now submitting us written replies on a case-by-case basis. If hoardings are turned away from the BMC land, there won’t be any problem. Hopefully, we’ll find a solution soon.”
“We have told the civic body that these hoardings are on our land and there shouldn’t be any problem with them,” said Shailendra Kumar, divisional railway manager, Western Railway.