Blanket ban was welcome, revoking it is not 

Last Updated : 15 February 2020, 02:03 IST

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In September last year, a 23-year-old woman techie died after an illegal hoarding fell over her in Chennai. This incident drew a lot of attention to the highly visible hoardings / billboards that went unnoticed by most people.

The state government is now trying to bring back the hoardings (used for political campaigns as well as marketing purposes) to Bengaluru. This, many citizens feel, will create visual pollution by blocking the many views of the city’s architecture and greenery.

“The only purpose of hoardings is to exaggerate the pseudo charities of political parties and provide some unwanted publicity for certain brands. These huge boards not only block the view but also diverts drivers’ attention, leading to accidents and congestion,” says Shijin Lal S, a software engineer residing in BTM layout.

Muskan Mathur, a student of Mount Carmel College is convinced that the blanket ban on banner boards and flexes was a great initiatve. “It reduces our carbon footprint and the plastic pollution since almost all the boards are made with polymers,” she notes.

But the benefits does not stop there. “Even the inks used to print the banner boards are done away with. They are a great hazard to the water bodies. It is great to see BBMP taking such a great initiative for better environment and road safety,” Mathur adds.

“Flex banners are made of Poly Vinyl Chloride (PVC), which is non-biodegradable. Although they can be recycled, according to Greenpeace less than 1% of PVC in the world is recycled by manufacturers today,” says Disha A Ravi, a climate activist and coordinator, Fridays For Future.

“BBMP banning flex banners was a great move. But even though the idea is great, it falls short in execution like the Swachh Bharat campaign,” she points out. “You can still see flex banners being printed all across the towns. The most commonly used material for banners are not checked by the authorities.”

The government too uses flex banners for the promotion of electoral campaigns. “This brings forth the question of how much the government is really concerned about the environment. Is the ban just to shut down environmental protests under the pretext of acting while being inactive and ignorant?” wonders Disha.

In the words of college student Ciby Sankhavi, some people might find the removal of billboards wrong as we are now very much bracketed with capitalism. “Literally, every aspect of our life deals with getting closer to this vicious cycle and no matter what we do, we cannot wriggle out of it.”

The blanket ban, she recalls, was a small step. “But it does not only free us from commercialism but also disengages us from the adverse effects such as a accidents and tree-cuttings.”

A few among the political class also echoes the same view.

“Through these hoardings, neither the state government makes any profit nor the BBMP generates any income. It only protects the interests of a few mediators and vested interests,” notes R Prakash from Janata Dal (Secular).

No one has the right to spoil the beauty of Bengaluru city, he says. “The government should depend on digital marketing, through which ads can be promoted and publicity can be obtained. Other forms of media should be encouraged keeping in mind a cleaner and ‘Swachh Bengaluru’.”

“The government and BBMP should ensure that strict guidelines are followed for hoardings. There are corporates and people who became famous because of illegal hoardings. For BBMP, hoardings are necessary as Bengaluru has less marketing space,” says Darshan Jain, State Joint Secretary, Karnataka AAP.

Published 14 February 2020, 17:56 IST

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