Poster menace stays despite many diktats

Even as PM Narendra Modi prepares to launch a multi-million dollar sanitation project to clean up 1,000 towns in India, the Capital itself seems to be in a dire need of housekeeping.

The political centre of the country is flush with posters belonging to groups of all shades and their students’ union wings. Come polls, university elections, national days or the festivals (and there are many in the Indian calendar) and new ones are plastered on the old ones all over again.

Roadside walls, Metro pillars and electricity and telephone towers, even huge billboards meant for bona fide advertising – nothing is spared. Delhi, in fact, looks nothing short of a giant space for commercials these days. Indeed, the diktat for sanitation must go out to political parties first and the citizens later!

Atul Goyal, convenor, URJA, the largest confederation of RWAs in Delhi, says, “I appreciate the PM’s concern but, ideally, the same party ruling in the Centre and in Delhi’s Municipal Corporation should mean that Modiji’s instructions should be implemented here as quickly as possible. It is the MCD and PWD’s job to see that these are not pasted indiscriminately and when they are, they should be removed in a day or two.”

It’s not at all difficult, he points out, “There are a couple of agencies who publish these chits. If they
are wrested, the menace can be brought under control overnight.”

Vijay Mondol, a resident of Laxmi Nagar says, “Look at any part of the city. You won’t find an inch of space on a public wall where a political or commercial poster has not been pasted. In August of 2014, you will find politicians greeting you on Holi and Diwali of 2013, on hoardings. Businesses which have closed down decades back will still be soliciting fresh graduates through pamphlets. And no one can forget names of NSUI and ABVP members from years because their posters and wall etchings will not allow you to do so.”

Keerti Sharma, a student at Kirori Mal College highlights the fact that students’ union groups have no need to litter the whole city when DUSU elections take place only in a handful of colleges in North and South Campus.

“Say what does a plea to elect someone as DUSU secretary has to do on the roads of Pashchim Vihar or Malviya Nagar?” she asks, “Why do they have to go on a publicity overdrive every time? Is it a desire to have your name imprinted on Delhiites’ mind, because the posters are never removed? It is also a violation of the Lyngdoh guidelines which allows only handmade posters and no printed ones.”

The fact that these make for an ugly sight, especially once they are soaked in rains and are peeling off or have been torn away hurriedly, is lost on no one. Residents also underline that they are often glued on to signboards and leave motorists looking for directions. At other times, they cause distraction and are a reason for road accidents.

“Only last week,” says Ashish Asthana, a BPO executive, “A friend of mine met with an accident because a large political hoarding made it impossible for him to see a sharp bend on the road. This is extremely callous of the authorities. Something must be done to remove these for posterity.”