Reacting to the Rs 2.36-crore notice issued to Elante mall by the municipal corporation (MC) for erecting hoardings of some international brands outside its walls, the mall authorities, expressing strong objection, have maintained that the notice is illegal and unconstitutional.
Acting after over 11 months it unearthed violations of the advertising rules applicable in the city, the MC on February 27 had issued the Rs 2.36-crore notice to the mall.
The fine amount has been sought for illegally displaying hoardings for over six months. The mall has been given one-month time to pay the fine or the MC would move court.
The notice has been issued under Advertisement Control Order, 1954.
In a letter to the additional commissioner, the mall authorities have stated that mere perusal of the notice simply asks the mall to ‘deposit the advertisement fee’. However, the provision to serve such a notice is unclear.
It is also not clear that on what basis the MC has calculated the fine amount, it states, adding that `100 per square feet fine charged from the mall was strictly against the Chandigarh Advertisement Control Order, 1954.
It appears that the notice has been issued without proper consideration of the provision, the letter reads, adding to recover such an ‘illegal’ amount under the garb of advertisement fee is unwarranted.
When contacted, Sarita Malik, additional commissioner, MC, said, “We have already replied to the letter issued by the mall authorities. The notice has been issued as per the rules, and the MC will recover the said amount soon.”
No notice issued over past decade
Surprisingly, in the past one decade, not even a single notice has been issued by the MC to over nine advertising contractors for recovery of advertisement fees worth `3 crore, even though the contracts of most of the companies had ended in 2011 and 2014.
The failure to recover the fine has affected the MC’s financial structure, as its income so far has been only `49 crore, 30% short of the target of Rs 70 crore.
Many more contracts are related to agreements of advertisements on public utilities in Chandigarh. All these agencies were given the contract on built operate and transfer (BOT) basis for the period of five years, which was also extended for a period of two years during the past five to 10 years.