Clear ad policy, lifting ban can check illegal hoardings

Vesting power in a single agency will also help fix the billboard mess

Clear ad policy, lifting ban  can check illegal hoardings

Lack of co-ordination between agencies, ban on hoardings and delay in streamlining the advertising policy have led to mushrooming of illegal and unauthorised display exhibits in Bengaluru. 

Senior officials who have worked in the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) admit that there is no single agency which is vested with powers to take action against the violators. Since 2007, the powers are vested with zonal commissioners in the advertisement wing at the head office. All files related to advertisements are sent to the respective zonal offices. 

The zonal commissioners have delegated their powers to the assistant revenue inspectors (ARIs) to check legal and illegal advertising boards. Already overburdened with mobilising property tax, the ARIs haven’t bothered to check the advertisement hoardings. 

As a result, no clear information is available on the number of legal or illegal hoardings in the BBMP limits. The figures provided by the ARIs and the zonal office on hoardings in their division just don’t tally. 

Former commissioners and senior officials who have worked in the BBMP advocate centralisation of all advertising matters at the head office. Even advertisers such as Manmohan Singh and R Krishnadevaraya have submitted petitions for centralising the advertisement wing for proper tracking of hoardings and making licence renewal easier. 

Assistant Commissioner (Advertisement) K Mathai, in his reports, also pitched for centralising the advertisement wing to curb illegal hoardings besides ensuring effective collection of tax. 

Several officers suggest that lifting the ban on hoardings will bring down illegal hoardings and increase the civic body’s revenue. Officially, the BBMP has banned giving permission for new hoardings since 2008. 

“Why can’t the BBMP adopt the tender-cum-auction process for hoardings. Let the advertisers have an agreement with private property owners for a period for which they have been given permission instead of entering a long lease agreement. This will increase the competitive bidding and fetch more revenue,” said a former assistant commissioner in the BBMP. Mathai, in his report, also suggested lifting the ban on advertisements to curb illegal hoardings. 

Hire junior lawyers Mathai also suggested hiring lawyers with five years of experience and using seniors as consultants. According to him, junior lawyers are likely to be more enthusiastic to establish themselves and fight the BBMP’s cases effectively. He also suggests firing lawyers if they fail to get a stay vacated in nine months.  

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