There has been talk of bringing down unauthorised hoardings that dot the city. Some of those that have been erected in violation of the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike's (BBMP) advertisement byelaws have been removed. However, BBMP officials claim helplessness in bringing own hoardings that are on railway property that violate the bye-laws.
An RTI application filed by S. Amaresh of RTI Study Centre has revealed that there are large-scale violations of the BBMP's advertisement bye-laws by advertisers who have put up hoardings on railway property.
The BBMP authorities have been writing to the railway officials about the large-scale violations of the bye-laws since 2008. The then Commissioner, S. Subramanya, had even written to the Member-Secretary of Ministry of Railways in December 2008.
Some of the violations pointed out by him included not displaying the details of the licences obtained by the advertisers from the BBMP, erecting hoardings bigger than the prescribed size and prescribed distance from the edge of the junction or circle, and advertisers awarded tenders by the Railways not obtaining the necessary licences from the BBMP.
He went on to say that the railway authorities had been “very lukewarm in responding to the appeal of BBMP to comply with the advertisement bye-laws”. The BBMP had even issued a notification to all advertisers to comply with the provisions under the bye-laws.
However, even 20 months after the commissioner wrote about the violations, no action has been taken and the hoardings continue to dot the city. BBMP officials said that there were around 200 hoardings on railway property. They said that they had written several times to the railway authorities seeking permission to enter their property and bring down such hoardings. They said that some of the hoardings were so high that they may fall due to gusty winds. “However, the authorities claim there are no violations. The advertisers have also gone to the court and got a temporary injunction. Our hands are tied,” officials said.
BBMP Special Commissioner K.R. Niranjan said that railway authorities issue advertisement space differently. “The advertisers after getting tender for the sq m area, divide that and put up multiple hoardings. We will soon meet the railway authorities and apprise them of the prevailing situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sudhanshu Mani, Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railways, told The Hindu that while the BBMP has no say in the way Railways accords tenders, the advertisers are obligated to follow the rules/ laws of the land. “The advertisers have to follow the advertisement bye-laws of the civic agency. There is no question about that,” he said.
About the safety aspect, he said that the railway engineers certify all structures. “If a hoarding were indeed unsafe, our engineers would not have certified it. All the structures on the railway property are safe,” he added.