Swathi Shivanand

The mahanagara palike got Rs. 3 crore revenue from advertising hoardings last year

Bangalore: The Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) earned just Rs. 3 crore from advertisements in the city last year as against the projected revenue of Rs. 35 crore.

Perturbed at this, the BMP drew up a new set of advertising byelaws. But do the new bylaws (still awaiting Government's approval), in reference to hoardings, address the problems, and give the BMP more teeth?

Officials say that the new byelaws would not only help curb violations but also ensure that the BMP got the revenue due to it. One of the serious problems is the menace of illegal hoardings. The practice has been that advertising agencies obtain licences for one hoarding and use that same licence for a cluster of hoardings. They display the same licence number for all the other hoardings and avoid paying fees to the BMP. The new byelaws continue to place emphasis on the old system and no new enforcement mechanism has come into place. "Our assistant revenue officers (AROs) will report to the zonal deputy commissioners for any violations they come across," says Mr. Jennu.

Most hoardings do not conform to the restrictions specified in the licences. They violate restrictions on dimensions, heights or distance between two hoardings. Sources in the BMP said only engineers would be able to clearly point out violations and not revenue officers. The new byelaws have made no change to the situation.

The punishment for violators, under the new byelaws, is Rs. 1,000 a day if advertisers continue to display advertisements after the expiry of licences. The BMP has recommended a fine of Rs. 5,000 a day if agencies put up hoardings without licences. But when an advertising agency earns up to Rs. 12 lakh a month on one hoarding, on roads such as Brigade Road and Mahatma Gandhi Road these fines prove to be a pittance, sources say.

No height restrictions

Traffic experts are of the opinion that height restrictions are a must for hoardings. M.N. Sreehari, Chairman of Traffic Engineers and Safety Trainers (TEST), says hoardings above the eye-level could cause road accidents. However, the new byelaws list about 72 roads in zone D, which is restriction-free. What this means is that the height of the hoardings can be anywhere between 5 feet to 50 feet from ground-level on heavy traffic roads such as New BEL Road, Bull Temple Road, Sankey Road and Magadi Road.

Traffic hazard? "There's a self limiting factor in terms of visibility. Advertisers would not want to place the hoardings too high," says R.R. Jennu, Joint Commissioner (Advertising and Development). But it is known that many hoardings are placed so high that they mar the skyline of the city.