When you go pandal hopping this Ganpati festival, faces of politicians and product advertisements will vie for your attention, on banners put up all around.
The Shiv-Sena led Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has put no restriction on the number of posters and hoardings to be allowed within 100-meter radius of pandals across Mumbai.
This has irked citizens and activists, who say the move will deface the face of the city and further clutter crowded roadsides, with political banners, hoardings and advertisements jostling for space.
Following a Bombay high court directive (HC) against structures encroaching public roads, the civic body has drafted rules for setting up pandals this year, keeping in mind the inconvenience caused to pedestrians during festivals.
However, the draft changes no rules for the hoardings that can be installed in the city during the festival.
Keen to mint the 10-day festivity, posters and hoardings sprout across the city during Ganpati, Mumbai’s most popular festival. According to BMC officials, Ganpati festival witnesses the highest number of hoardings, more than 1000 in each ward, out of which many are illegal.
Approximately 30-40% revenue of the Ganpati mandals is earned through these hoardings, sources said.
In 2013, the civic body had set a limit on the number of hoarding per pandal, but had to withdraw the order within a week, after pressure from organisers and politicians alike.
“We are allowing banners only within 100-meter of each pandal and organisers will have to seek permission from the BMC before allowing sponsors or political parties to install banners. We had put restrictions on political banners in the city last year because of the election code of conduct, which is not the case this year,” said Pallavi Darade, additional municipal commissioner.
While citizens believe these banners only deface the city.
“Under the pretext of festivals, political parties and organisers deface the city as they do not put restrictions on the number of banners. The high court, too, had directed the BMC in 2013 to control and remove illegal banners from the city,” said Nikhil Desai, citizen activist, F-north ward.
No change in hoarding rules in civic body’s policy
* Following the HC directive against structures encroaching public roads, the BMC has drafted a set of rules to be followed by mandals to set up Ganesh pandals across the city
* The civic body has made it compulsory for mandals to get approvals from the police, traffic and fire departments
* Applications can be made to the BMC only after no-objection certificates have been obtained from these departments
* Mandals are to comply with the norms for noise levels as directed by courts and civic departments
* However, the policy has put no restrictions on the number of hoardings and advertisements allowed in a 100-metre radius of the pandals
* A complaint officer (CO) will be appointed in all 24 wards. Citizens can complain against mandals blocking roads or pavements to the officer
* Citizens can also call the toll-free number 1916 to lodge complaints.
Banners major source of income
* Hoardings are big sources of income for organisers, with hardly anything trickling into the civic body’s coffers
* The BMC charges the organisers Rs 125 for every advertisement inside a venue, while they can charge the client anything.