It was in 2014 that the Ghaziabad municipal corporation had come up with a proposed advertising policy to regulate the growth of advertising hoardings in the municipal area. Now, nearly two years later, the policy has been published but the procedure to implement it is yet to be finalised.
Illegal hoardings carrying advertisements are rampant on city roads, roadsides, and vacant spaces. Advertising unipoles too have recently proved to be dangerous.
On May 6 , a unipole had crashed over three vehicles near Grand Truck Road, leaving four commuters severely injured. The magisterial inquiry initiated after it is still underway. A week later, another unipole had crashed, this time over a police vehicle.
“We have ordered that the advertising policy be published again. Any public objections will need to be cleared thereafter. Then, it will be sent to the state administration for clearance and will finally be published in the gazette notification,” said Abdul Samad, Ghaziabad municipal commissioner.
One of the major points of the advertising policy is the grant of powers to the corporation’s executive committee to frame policy about the old and new built-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts.
Presently, the corporation has entered into an agreement with private firms and grants them rights to a specified number of advertising hoardings and unipoles on a road in lieu of maintenance of that road, street lights and other facilities. While the work undertaken is under the agreement, it is commonly known as BOT in the municipal corporation.
Some of these firms have had such agreements since 2008. According to officials, nearly 30 such firms operate for maintenance and also have advertising rights.
“Earlier, when we framed rules for the advertising policy and the corporation board gave its clearance, several of these BOT firms moved court stating that the rules were not framed under a procedure. Later, we framed rules and published the policy in September 2014. It was cleared by the board this April. Now, we will further adopt the procedure to get it cleared finally,” said SK Tiwari, deputy municipal commissioner and advertising policy in-charge.
Despite the agreements allowing for only a specific number of hoardings or unipoles, the corporation found nearly 300 unipoles and hoardings set up illegally in a drive in May. Following it, Samad had said that notices amounting to Rs 7.5 crore would be sent soon.
However, senior councilor Rajendra Tyagi said, “Such a large amount of hoardings and unipoles cannot be set up overnight. Such work cannot take place in public places without the involvement of insiders. The poles and hoardings are not numbered and illegal advertising prevails. It also poses a risk to commuters and several incidents have taken place.”
In December 2014, in response to a public interest litigation (PIL), the Allahabad high court had come down heavily on several municipal corporations in the state and directed them to take steps to formulate guidelines to deal with unauthorised hoardings.
“Whenever there is a court order, the effect is seen for around a month. Later, everything goes haywire and situation returns to what it was before. Political parties and local politicians too rampantly use hoardings for publicity. They don’t even spare road signages,” said Alok Kumar, the petitioner in the PIL and an Indirapuram resident.