Whether it was during the launch of Namma Metro, BJP leader L K Advani’s visit to the City, or simply a festival, one common factor marked all these occasions — huge cutouts of politicians greeting the public.
The buntings, cutouts, flex banners and hoardings put up in every nook and cranny of Bangalore, deface the beauty of the City as well as block public movement on walkways.
Politicians and corporators, who are supposed to prevent erection of these hoardings and cutouts, themselves indulge in such self-promotion. Thousands of flex banners and buntings — festival and birthday greetings, best wishes, condolences and so on — continue to take over public spaces.
“Whenever there is a festival, many people claiming to be local leaders put up huge cutouts, prominently featuring their photographs along with senior political party leaders, greeting the public. Sometimes, they block the movement of people as they are erected on footpaths,” says Deepak, a bank employee.
Many a time, these huge hoardings, displaying photographs and names of politicians, are put up without getting the permission of the licensing authority. “Even though BBMP has been strict in enforcing the provisions of the Karnataka Open Places (Preservation of Disfigurement) Act, cutouts are fixed illegally. We book cases, fine and prosecute the offenders.
Though political parties get permission to put up buntings and banners before an event, they hardly show interest to remove them later,” says a source from BBMP.
Rafiq, a shopkeeper, opines, “Who is interested to see those life-size hoardings? Instead of wasting public money in that manner, politicians can carry some kind of social activity which will be helpful to the needy.”
Ritesh, a member of ‘I Hate Unwanted Political Banners & Hoardings’, a group on a social networking site, cites a judgement by the Mumbai High Court. “The Mumbai High Court has ordered the Municipal Corporation to take action against illegal hoardings and to carry a survey about how many such hoardings are there in the City. I wish a similar law could be passed here,” he says. He suggests collecting a fine from people whose names and photographs are published in hoardings.
Another aspect of the problem is that most of these hoardings are made of flex, which cannot be recycled and cause pollution. Anantha C, a science professor, is concerned about the ecological hazards.
“Most of the time, these flexes are left as they are. Since they are non biodegradable, their disposal is a big problem. It will be disastrous when cows eat them. Even if politicians wish to display hoardings, they can go for cloth banners,” he suggests.
“The bright colours used in these flexes contain substances like lead. If these poisonous elements mix with water and people consume that, they will face serious health issues,” he adds. He opines that BBMP should curb these kind of activities.