HDMC goes tough against road median ad agencies

'Contract cancelled, as MoU terms violated, tax not paid'

Advertisement boards on the road median on Lamington Road in Hubballi.

The Hubballi-Dharwad Municipal Corporation (HDMC), which gave 12 to15 long years of contract to private agencies to display advertisement boards on road median and central poles on major roads in the City, along with a condition to maintain them well, has now decided for premature cancellation of contracts, due to violation of memorandum of understanding (MoU) and non-payment of advertisement tax.

In 2006 and 2007, the HDMC has signed MoU with eight agencies allowing them to install advertisement boards on road medians and centre poles on 15 stretches on Gokul Road, Lamington Road, Station Road, Club Road, and Kusugal Road, with some terms and conditions.

So far, 26.39 lakh pending and current advertisement tax is yet to be paid by the agencies. There were also complaints that the agencies concerned did not maintain median by cleaning it, painting it, illuminating it and growing plants there. HDMC's taxation, finance and appeals committee standing committee has also warned the agencies to pay the tax and to follow MoU terms and conditions.

Complaints

"People's representatives had complained that poorly-maintained road medians have spoiled the beauty of the City. Advertisement tax is also pending. The HDMC general body meeting held recently has approved the proposal to cancel the contracts. We will soon take over the median boards, and remove the boards, especially as roads are being developed," HDMC Commissioner C W Shakeel Ahmed said.

Several meetings were conducted with contractors, and notices were served them to pay the tax and follow MoU conditions, he recalled.

"Even if contractors approach the court, we have a strong argument that they violated the MoU," Mayor Sudhir Saraf noted.

Ad agencies get contract, and they display their own advertisement or give boards to other advertisers for money, but they do not maintain medians and do not pay the tax properly, a corporator added.

AR billboards coming

Meanwhile, Hubballi-Dharwad Smart City Limited (HDSCL) has planned to use augmented reality (AR) technology to identify illegal billboards, and those with wrong sizes and expired approvals, to collect tax from contractors them properly for the HDMC.

The HDSCL has already floated tender for Rs 93 lakh AR-based billboard revenue management system. AR app would have GIS-based database of billboards, and any violations would be identified through AR glasses, hand-held device or smartphone, HDSCL officials said.

As revenue loss due to advertisement boards is an almost permanent headache for the HDMC, AR technology is expected to come as a solution.

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HDMC goes tough against road median ad agencies

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