Alert: Hoardings could return

The Urban Development Department’s new draft rules on advertisements could see as unauthorised hoardings making a back door entry and cause visual pollution.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Advertisement Rules, 2019, published by the Urban Development Department (UDD) on July 15 has sparked fresh debate in the BBMP council.

The UDD notified the draft just a few days after the high court quashed BBMP’s resolution of imposing a one-year ban on hoardings.

Though the new draft consists of several restrictions on the installation of hoardings, it is silent on the requirement of an occupancy certificate (OC) for the buildings which host the hoardings. This new debate over the OC was triggered after the recent amendment on the definition of “Building” in the Karnataka Municipal Council (KMC) Act.

The new amendment of the KMC Act says, “Building includes a house, out-house, stable privy, shed, hut, wall, verandah, fixed platform, plinth, doorstep and (any other structure including telecommunication tower or advertisement structure, whatever name called).”

A BBMP official said, “For any building, the OC is compulsory. Since the advertisement structure is installed on the “building”, OC is compulsory. If hoardings are allowed on unauthorised buildings, then it amounts to authorising those buildings. It should be noted that if a structure or part of the building (hoarding) which comes later is authorised, then the structure standing earlier is also deemed authorised. When a telecom tower that falls in the same category needs to have OC, then why is the OC not required for advertisement structures?” he asked.

There is more concern as the new draft may see a return of the earlier mess related to hoardings. The new draft has allowed “Legacy Advertisement Billboards” on private properties in commercials areas. Legacy hoardings are those that the applicant can put up if the BBMP fails to either permit or reject the application within 30 days.

Another official who has closely worked on the issue said, “When all the hoardings have been banned, then what is the meaning of legacy hoarding? This is nothing but a backdoor entry for earlier hoardings. The same old structure will remain and will be reused. This is entirely against the purpose of making new bye-laws,” he said.

When contacted, Padmanabha Reddy, Opposition party leader in the BBMP, said, “This is absolute rubbish. Following a huge uproar, the city was rid of hoardings and banners. But the new draft favours illegal hoardings. Also, the annual fee on hoardings in the draft is much less than what it was. This is clear Congress and JD(S) who prepared the draft want to allow unauthorised advertisers to make a backdoor entry. Lakhs of buildings in the city are built without OC. I will raise this issue in the council meeting and will not support this draft,” he said.

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