Municipal corporations removed 27,206 hoardings in the state and collected a fine of Rs 7.23 crore in a special drive conducted in the state on August 3 & 4 as against merely 1,693 hoardings were removed in the city over a period of 10 days, the Bombay High Court was informed on Monday.
In a special drive undertaken by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for 10 days in August, the corporation managed to remove merely 1,693 hoardings and banners in the city. During this time, 168 First Information Reports (FIRs) were registered against those who had put up illegal hoardings and banners.
Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni submitted a report before a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik which is hearing a batch of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) on the issue of illegal banners, hoardings and posters put up by political parties across the state, which according to the pleas, defaced public places. In 2016, the HC had directed the state government and all municipal corporations to ensure that no illegal hoardings are put up in public places.
After going through the report, CJ Datta questioned whether there were no illegal hoardings in Latur, Nanded, Dhule, Ulhasnagar, Chandrapur and Ahmednagar since there was “zero” written against the columns for “action taken against illegal hoardings”.
As against this, it showed that district municipal councils had taken action against 686 illegal hoardings and collected fines of Rs 30,800.
Kumbhakoni also said that the government has issued detailed guidelines for the BMC on April 29, 2022 to take action against illegal hoardings. Whereas, on May 9, 2022, rules were framed to be followed by other municipal corporations.
These guidelines provide for action to be initiated against the violators including conviction which can extend up to three months and penalty of Rs 2,000.
One of the advocates suggested that the authorities concerned could make it mandatory to have a QR code on all legal hoardings which would give its details like who has put it up and number of days for which it is erected.
CJ Datta asked Kumbhakoni consider the same saying: “If a hoarding doesn’t have QR code then police can pull it down without following natural justice (without giving a hearing)”
The government said that it will consider the suggestion “positively”.
The HC has kept the matter for further hearings on October 13.