Compliance with ban on hoardings more in its breach

A flex board erected on a median at Pakkamudayanpet in Puducherry.

A flex board erected on a median at Pakkamudayanpet in Puducherry.   | Photo Credit: T.Singaravelou

Political parties in the U.T. show one-upmanship in displaying banners and cutouts, marring the aesthetics of the town’s skyline

Inspite of a ban on public display of banners and hoardings in non-designated places, political parties cutting across partylines show one-upmanship in displaying banners and cutouts, marring the beauty and aesthetics of the town’s skyline.

The ban imposed by the government on display of banners is practically violated and no party for that matter honours the implementation of the order.

Although the orders have been issued by the administration from time to time invoking the powers under Section 4 of the Puducherry Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 2000), the town’s landscape, cluttered with banners, remained an eyesore. The notification on putting up banners is observed more in the breach.

In 2016, the government tweaked the conditions laid down in the Puducherry Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement Act) 2009, which envisaged a blanket ban on erection of banners, flex boards and hoardings in order to meet the demands from various corners and to bring some revenue to the cash-starved local bodies.

Accordingly, the Local Administration Department notified 20 designated places each, within the jurisdiction of Puducherry and Oulgaret municipalities, for putting up banners. The Local Administration Department decided to allow banners at designated places and protect the city’s aesthetics.

But what is mind boggling is that the parties including the ruling Congress put up their banners and hoardings in all other places across the town, except in the designated areas.

Municipal officials maintain ambivalence in the decision had again led to the city’s landscape being marred by banners.

On most occasions, the city is awash with banners of political leaders celebrating their birthdays and local events at public places. All of them are erected without getting approval from competent authorities.

At the Rajiv Gandhi square on the 100-feet Road, the banners and hoardings erected by a political party recently had completely shrouded the statue of the leader.

Ever since the ban was enforced, there have been allegations by the opposition parties that the municipalities were allowing the ruling party in the State to install banners against the ban while removing those erected by other parties. The purpose of the ban is lost and one fails to understand how the ruling party is violating its own order.

According to Sunaina Mandeen of PondyCan, “the habit of putting up photos of politicians on hoardings to celebrate anything from kids’ birthdays to marriages can only be seen as a sign of sycophancy. Our political leaders should go out of their way to prevent this and make sure their supporters understand that this is not only in bad taste but going against their own decree. These posters and hoardings are also dangerous and sometimes result in traffic hazards.”

Better monitoring

According to R. Rajangam of Communist Party of India (Marxist), the government had failed to invoke the provisions of the POPD Act notified in the Government Gazette in 2009 and direct the heads of departments and local bodies to monitor the implementation of the Act. The unauthorised hoardings, flex boards and banners were affecting the town’s landscape, he said.

A senior official of the Local Administration Department conceded that banners continued to dot various parts of the town, particularly the traffic islands.

Unauthorised banners and hoardings would be removed and strict action would be initiated under the Pondicherry Municipality Act 1973 and POPD Act, 2000, he said.

P. Devanathan, president of People’s Pulse pointed out that the ban had little or no effect with political parties and individuals placing hoardings on private properties and traffic islands.

Several such hoardings remain even after the stipulated deadline for their removal and the local administration department has done little to remove them. The locals should take the lead and inform the police and authorities of illegal banners and hoardings and get them removed, he said.

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 3:25:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/compliance-with-ban-on-hoardings-more-in-its-breach/article29104641.ece

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