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Karnataka's political parties to blame for illegal hoardings: BBMP tells High Court

The report claimed that a total of 59,413 unauthorised advertisements were identified in the eight zones of the BBMP from March 21, 2023.
Last Updated : 02 August 2023, 16:49 IST

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The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday warned the city corporation Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and the state government that they will have to pay Rs 50,000 each for every illegal advertisement that comes up in the civic body's limits.

The BBMP had informed the court that during the recent Assembly election, thousands of illegal banners and hoardings wishing politicians had been put up by their supporters.

The court took both the BBMP and the state government to task for their inaction on the issue of illegal advertisements and said: "This picture is not only surprisingly shocking but as we have observed shaking one's conscience. As such, there is an immediate need to put the respondent authorities in action mode."

Blaming political parties in a compliance report submitted to the court, BBMP claimed, "Despite ban/restriction on display of advertisement hoardings, flexes or banners and other displays by the Election Commission of India, during the Assembly Elections the Political Parties and their supporters have erected unauthorised advertisement hoardings, flexes or banners and other displays," the report claimed.

The report filed by the Assistant Commissioner (Advertisements) also claimed that "the officers of the BBMP tried their best to contain this menace and have cleared almost all such unauthorised advertisement hoardings, flexes or banners and other displays."

The report also claimed that a total of 59,413 unauthorised advertisements were identified in the eight zones of the BBMP from March 21, 2023 onwards and of them 58,429 have been removed. However, a penalty has not been levied on any single one of them.

Complaints have been filed in 134 instances out of which 119 are from the Rajarajeshwari Nagar Zone alone. A total of 40 FIRs have been lodged.

The HC said it was surprised that only 134 complaints out of the 59,413 illegal advertisements were made. It sought details of all the complaints and FIRs.

Observing that it was the responsibility of the state government as well, it said: "Those who are in power and managing the state, is it not their duty that Bengaluru city looks good and appreciable. What impression is being carried out by someone who enters the city from the airport or any other place? Is it that the government wants to show hoardings and banners erected anywhere and everywhere?"

The High Court in its order on Wednesday directed the BBMP to file an "action-plan" within three weeks on the plans against those who put up illegal advertisements and also the action to be taken against erring officers of the civic body responsible for unauthorised advertisements in their limits.

The court noted that the compliance report does not mention against whom the complaints/FIRs have been filed, whether against the political party or those who have erected the hoardings and banners. It also dismissed the contention of the BBMP that it was helpless.

"These statements are clearly indicative of the fact that a corporation under the guise of helplessness is trying to avoid its duty," the court said.

The division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice M G S Kamal were hearing a public interest litigation filed by Mayige Gowda, a resident of the city. The case was adjourned to August 30.

A compliance report was filed by the Assistant Commissioner (Advertisements) of the BBMP as directed by the HC in an earlier order on March 20, 2023. It claimed that the "unauthorised advertisement hoardings, flexes or banners that are removed are stored in ward officers". The wooden sticks and other material can be easily disposed of but plastic materials used had to be scientifically destroyed in consultation with the Solid Waste Management Department of the BBMP.

Area-wise phone numbers, names and designation of officers can be contacted by the public to report illegal hoardings are published in the BBMP website and newspapers, the report says.

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Published 02 August 2023, 16:49 IST

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