White-washed, bills-free walls is what Coimbatore has come to be in the past 10 days or so after the district administration enforced the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). No sooner than the Election Commission of India announced the polling dates for the Lok Sabha elections, the Coimbatore Corporation began removing bills across the city.
The civic body had deployed conservancy workers to remove the posters and also paint white the places where the political parties had encroached upon. And with that came the restriction on sticking bills.
This restriction has caused consternation among those in the printing business as they say that orders are hard to come by. “I’ve been without orders for the past week,” rues G. Ramkumar, a printing press owner. He prints posters for political events, weddings and other family functions, and also for deaths.
“Though the MCC restriction on bills has got to do more with the political events, even those who order posters for social events do not want to risk a chance.”
This has affected not only the printers but also those in the trade — paper manufacturers, transport operators and the boys who paste those bills.
The whitewashed walls have also removed a portion of his income, says K. Sivakumar, who sticks bills to make a living. For every poster he gets Rs. 3 and makes around Rs. 10,000 a month.
For those in the printing business, elections used to be the jackpot season. All political parties in the fray used to place orders for a variety of events — for campaign, arrival of leaders, announcing candidates, seeking support and announcing meeting schedules.
This situation adds to the general decline in business, says C.D. Kumaravel, president, Coimbatore Printers’ Association. “The reason is the variety of advertising options available to customers.”
He says that another reason that has got the printers worried is the ensuing festival season, in which the printers get orders from devotees and temple management committees. But with the MCC in force, the orders will be hard to come by.
The only prayer before the printers will be that they successfully tide over the restriction period so that they can start getting orders.