Hoardings continue to deface Madhya Pradesh’s most populous city despite several reminders and court notices asking the administrators to remove the illegal among them.
If the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) is dithering to take action, it is possibly because most billboards are about political campaigns, residents say. A chunk of the no less than 1,265 posters block signage and traffic signals at several busy places.
Of late, in a bid to regularise the haphazard spurt in hoardings, the corporation sought to introduce a higher rates on billboards and stopped renewing the licenses of their traders, but that has not helped improve the situation.
The denizens are exasperated. “Politicians and their supporters openly flout rules; traffic junctions are preferred hotspots for putting up banners, because of their visibility,” said Akash Sharma, a law student, who had moved a writ petition before Madhya Pradesh High Court to check the defacement in Indore which has more than 25 lakh people.
Last year, the issue was discussed at a meeting of the Mayor-in-Council. It decided to review the hoarding policy so as to regularize the spurt of posters in a way that would generate more revenue for the civic body and add to the city’s beautification. The policy has not taken off.
“The city has about 1,265 hoardings registered with the corporation,” said IMC’s revenue department in-charge Suraj Kero. “We are getting a renewal fee from 733 of them. Concretely, we do not know which hoardings are legal or which ones are flouting norms.”
In the next fiscal, IMC plans to introduce new ratings for hoardings system. “We hope to increase the corporation’s revenue from tax on hoardings by ten times.”
Akash Sharma, a resident of the city, said violators were seen putting up posters with traffic cops on their side. “So, on who do we fix responsibility,” he asked.
Another resident, Arpit Jain, said IMC should learn from cities like Delhi and Bangalore on how to bring an effective policy on hoardings.
Kero said the state government was coming up with a new policy on hoardings. “We are told it will be communicated to all municipal bodies in a month or two,” he added.
IMC is also introducing a bar-coding system that will help identify illegal hoardings. “We have been conducting removal drives. More than 500 illegal hoardings have been moved out,” he added.