No one pays for flex in the city

No one pays for flex in the city

Wonder why illegal displays thrive? The law has never caught up with offenders, that’s why

BBMP is removing illegal flexes across the city, following a High Court order. This display was on Sampige Road, Malleswaram, and was pulled down on August 2.

In three years, the BBMP has filed 456 cases against those defacing public places with illegal displays, but not a single offender has been convicted.

The cases are filed under the Karnataka Open Places Disfigurement Act and name those putting up unauthorised flexes, banners, buntings, posters. BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad, “We are certainly filing FIRs and pulling down illegal flexes and hoardings. Corporators, MLAs and ministers are the ones who encourage them.”

 Eco-unfriendly flex displays have proliferated because of the ease and swiftness with which they can be printed. “Given the technology, a flex of any size can be made in 10 minutes,” he told Metrolife.

 Ahead of the elections earlier this year, BBMP staff removed about 15,000 flexes and banners at one go.

If a leader of the ruling party puts up a flex, the opposition erects enough flexes to outnumber those of the ruling party, Manjunatha Prasad says.

Corporators rope in BBMP assistant and junior engineers from the area before they put up flexes. That is why it becomes difficult to remove them, he explains. Since 2014-15, the BBMP has removed 94,148 unauthorised displays. In the past decade, the highest revenue the BBMP has earned from flexes and hoardings is Rs 39.01 crore in 2016-17. Last year, the revenue dipped to Rs 27.20 crore.

Why flexes show up

Political events and rallies.

Birthdays of corporators, MLAs, ministers.

Welcome messages for party leaders.

Obituary tributes for local leaders.

Religious and cultural festivals.

Long way to go, says top cop

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar says no one has been convicted for putting up illegal displays. “The first process is to file an FIR and then investigate the cases. Conviction comes much later. We have not yet reached that point,” he told Metrolife.

Go to doorstep to canvass

The BBMP has banned flex displays for a year, and that means those contesting the 2019 election season won’t be able to put up huge displays. Parties can go door to door and campaign or print bills, a BBMP official suggests.

City beauty paramount: BBMP chief

The BBMP would earn at least Rs 20 crore to Rs 30 crore every year if the displays were legalised.

“But we don’t intend to earn revenue at the cost of the beauty of the city and the lives of citizens,” BBMP Commissioner N Manjunatha Prasad says.

Wheels within wheels

A BBMP senior official explains why flex offenders get off the hook easily.
“The cases have to be filed only in the jurisdictional police station. When BBMP staff approach the police, they are made to wait till evening. They are then counter-questioned why they didn’t clamp down on those who illegally put up these flexes,” he says. Police also threaten to file cases against BBMP staff, saying they haven’t done their job. “Most police stations don’t want to file an FIR because it adds to the number of cases in their area,” he says. If the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force (BMTF) is given more powers, the menace can be curbed, BBMP Commissioner Manjunatha Prasad says. “It would make our job a lot easier,” he told Metrolife. Only after the High Court order have those putting up illegal flexes begun to fear the law, he says.


Six months imprisonment, if a case is filed under Karnataka Open Places Disfigurement Act. The BBMP can cite its bylaws and fine offenders between Rs 1 or 2 lakh.

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