The local municipal corporation (MC) has violated own billboard policy of December 2012 but there's no sign of the criminal action it threatened other violators with.
Hoardings reminding people of the property-tax-payment deadline have come up at the sites where, under the public advertisement policy, it's illegal to put up any kind of sign. Raised by HDFC Bank, which has the MC's property-tax account, the billboards carry pictures of mayor Sunil Jyoti, senior deputy mayor Kamaljeet Singh Bhatia and deputy mayor Arvinder Kaur Oberoi.
A hoarding outside the district administrative complex displays the list of collection points. Outside the MC office gate facing Shastri Market, the giant flex sign on the boundary wall, mocks the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1997. On Mahavir Marg also, the billboards have changed the skyline.
The bank has put hoardings on 20 illegal sites. "The MC suggested all spots," said HDFC Bank Dushyant Rajpal, when he was confronted. "The MC hasn't objected, so far. If it does, we'll remove the signs," Rajpal added. Many hoardings are on unipoles, which is considered unsafe. "The MC was quick to remove the illegal hoardings of others. What happened to implementing that policy now?" said Balwinder Singh, a local resident.
Under the 2012 policy, every billboard should carry the printers' name, address and contact numbers for accountability, yet none of the property-tax hoardings display any of these details. When confronted, mayor Sunil Jyoti said the bank had orders to use only the approved sites. "I had asked them to remove our (MC authorities') pictures from the hoardings on illegal spots, and now I have reported the matter to the municipal commissioner for further action," he said.
Municipal commissioner Manpreet Singh Chhatwal was unavailable for comments.
What law says
Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1997
Nobody is allowed to deface any public or private property by pasting posters, writing on the walls, making wall paintings or putting up banners without the written permission of the property's owner. Besides, advertisements can only be displayed in the cities at designated places after paying requisite fee to the civic body concerned.