It took the civic body barely 24 hours to remove more than 5,300 illegal banners, posters and boards across the city on Thursday - a task that its own track record reveals would have otherwise taken a month.
According to data provided by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) licences department, 5,315 banners, boards and posters across the city were removed on Thursday following the Bombay high court's directive issued on Wednesday.
In addition, 793 more were pulled down up to Friday morning.
“The court appreciated the efforts to remove all illegal banners, boards and posters across the city. Up to the deadline, we have removed almost 98% of the illegal displays,” said Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner. “This was possible only because we deployed all the men and machinery to undertake this job. On a regular basis, the staff from the civic licences department performs other tasks as well. If we deploy the staff to undertake the task of only removing illegal banners, other jobs would suffer,” said Adtani.
With the compliance report submitted to the high court on Friday, citizens fear that the BMC's drive would soon lose steam. “It is a shame that judicial intervention was needed for a task that is the civic body’s responsibility,” said activist GR Vora.
“In the past, despite citizens informing the civic officials concerned regarding illegal banners and posters that were defacing the streets, no action was initiated. We fear that political pressure will affect civic action,” he added.
Meanwhile, experts believe that the only way to ensure the sustainability of this drive would be to prosecute and fine the offenders, who break the law.
“The high court order was long overdue for the city. To ensure that the drive is sustainable, immediate action has to be taken against those who continue to display banners and posters,” said former municipal commissioner DM Sukthankar.