BBMP starts removing political boards, banners

BBMP starts removing political boards, banners

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) started removing flex boards and banners of all political parties on Tuesday shortly after the dates for the Karnataka Assembly elections were announced.  

BBMP Commissioner and District Election Officer N Manjunath Prasad promised to remove all flex boards and banners within 24 hours,  regardless of which political party had put them up.

Even government advertisements on BMTC buses, public hoardings and bus shelters were taken down.

"We have also asked the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) to stop playing political advertisements on radio. Photographs of politicians on all government websites such as the BBMP, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) will also be removed," said Prasad.

Photos of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Bengaluru Development and Town Planning Minister K J George and Mayor R Sampath Raj were taken down from the BBMP's website by evening.

"If any candidate wants to place advertisements on television, he/she should take approval from the Media Certification Committee," Prasad said.  The committee is an internal body headed by the District Election Officer.

Prasad, however, clarified that Indira Gandhi's photos would not be removed  from  Indira Canteens.  

The removal of flex boards is expected to be completed by Wednesday.    

Curiously, the BBMP swung into action only after the poll dates were announced. Until Monday,  flex banners and advertisement hoardings kept invading the cityscape more rapidly, much to the consternation of residents.

Besides being an eyesore, ad displays mushrooming on pavements, tree-tops, road dividers and streetlights also remain a hazard to pedestrians and motorists alike.

The BBMP, which is authorised to remove the illegal ad displays, is turning a blind eye to the menace thanks to pressure from its political bosses. The civic body, however, has become the target of the netizens' ire as the online campaign #FlexPoliticsBeda gathers momentum.

On March 1, the high  court directed the BBMP to file specific affidavits with details on action taken and plans to effectively implement the Karnataka Open Spaces (prevention of disfigurement) Act 1981.

The act forbids people from putting up ads and inscriptions without written consent from the local administration, imposing Rs 1,000 or six-month imprisonment –or both- on those violating the law.

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