As the race for the 2017 state assembly elections has already begun, various political parties have put up their hoardings, banners and posters unauthorisedly in violation of the high court orders on private and government buildings and other installations, thus completely defacing the holy city under the very nose of the municipal corporation (MC).
Be it a private building, government property, walls, pillars, water tanks, toilet walls, historical gates, electricity poles etc, political parties have spared nothing in this poster war.
Though, everything is happening so blatantly, the MC, which is the custodian of the advertising policy, is silent and taking no action in this regard. The illegal hoardings and banners have not only defaced the city, but have also become a cause of concern for many residents as their private properties have been used for the same.
Hindustan Times on Monday spotted various areas in the city where hoardings of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia, Amritsar MP Captain Amarinder Singh, AAP and Congress were found installed.
The major areas where this banner campaigning is widespread are the Durgiana Temple area, Gate Hakima, Khazana Gate, Sultanwind Gate, Mall Road, Chheharta, Batala road, Lahori Gate and others. Besides hoardings, illegal advertising through posters is also found on private buildings of shopping centres, to which shopkeepers are objecting.
The illegal hoardings have also come up on PWD buildings and various bus stops of the city, especially the stops which have recently come up under the ambitious Amritsar Bus Rapid Transit System (Amritsar BRTS). The state cabinet had approved the Punjab Municipal Outdoor Advertisement Policy (2012) in April last year. The policy is applicable to all advertisements and hoardings on locations that come under the limits of municipalities across the state.
The hoarding are also in violation of the high court orders. Taking note of road accidents caused due to bill boards and big hoardings, the high court had directed all corporations across the state to form a proper advertisement policy.
What HR orders say
While hearing a contempt petition against illegal hoardings and advertisement signboards in violation of rules, the high court had issued a show-cause notice to Amritsar Municipal Commissioner, questioning the authenticity of hoarding sites.
The civic body had then submitted an affidavit that Amritsar Outdoor Advertisement Bylaw was pending. Now, when the advertisement policy is in place it is illogical to grant immunity for putting up hoardings in an unauthorised manner.