Smart Pune, turning ugly due to illegal hoardings?
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Smart Pune, turning ugly due to illegal hoardings?

Following complaints of illegal hoardings and abandoned vehicles parked along the roads defacing the city, mayor Mukta Tilak directed the Pune Municipal Corporation to start a drive across the city and clear the hoardings and vehicles.

pune Updated: Jan 20, 2018 20:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune municipal corporation,high court,illegal hoardings
The cost of removal and defacement of public property must be recovered from the offender.(HT Representative Photo)

This is with reference to your report ‘Illegal hoardings become an eyesore for PMC’ dated January 14, 2018. There has been very poor action by civic officials on illegal hoardings in Pune.

However, it is good that finally the mayor has woken up to the fact. A drive must be conducted against illegal flexes which are eyesores- most of them put up by political parties and their sidekicks themselves. It is hoped that it is not just a publicity stunt.

I was the petitioner where the Bombay high court gave a detailed 97-page order dated January 31, 2017, in the matter of PIL no. 249 / 2014 which was clubbed with PIL no. 155/2011.

The order was sent by me to all the senior most officers and concerned head of departments at the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and the police department, despite which, there has been no implementation till now.

It was an extremely well-crafted and detailed order which gave specific directions.

The order directed the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to monitor, formulate and ratify within four to six weeks the strategy and guidelines it will formulate, monitoring panel it will form, costs it will recover from violators according to para (a) to (z) and (aa) to (cc) of the high court order.

No suo moto preventive measures are being taken, while the civic body asks citizens to call-in to lodge complaints
on the toll free number 18002336679.

All this is despite the high court order on January 31, 2017, essentially stating that first information reports (FIRs) and cognisable offences must be filed under Section 3 to 5 of the Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property (MPDP) Act 1995 for all those who disfigure, deface, damage, defecate or litter on public property.

The cost of removal and defacement of public property must be recovered from the offender.

This is a very strong act, but all authorities are reluctant to use it. On my behest, the Pune municipal commissioner Kunal Kumar had issued an office memo for circulation to all head of departments and departments on September 8, 2015, vide outward no. MA/Path/3572 that for disfiguring any public property, defecation, defacement, damage and littering, officers must file offences under Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property (MPDP) Act 1995, Sections 115A and 117 of the Bombay Police Act and Sections 425 and 427 of the Indian Penal Code.

Needless to state, both the standing committee and the general body (whose members we the people have elected to uphold the law) have not bothered to approve the guidelines prepared in September 2016 and signed by municipal commissioner after the high court issued contempt against him during pendency of the court hearings.

In fact, forget rest of Pune, illegal hoardings are put up right opposite the PMC main building gate.

My point is, if I am a tax paying citizen, why am I supposed to see defacement of this extent in my city?

If the civic body has staff for each activity, why are they not able to do their job especially if it is clearly laid down in the high court orders? And, especially when these directions are clearly defined by the urban development department on March 14, 2017, vide admin decision no. 3017/Pr.Kr.130 – NaVi-22 after the high court orders?

The high court order had directed the Pune police to formulate and ratify, within four to six weeks, the action it will take to be vigilant, take sou moto action against violators, form monitoring committees and prepare reports listing violations, among others according to para (d) (e) (g) (i) (j) (s) (x) and (y) and (aa) to (cc) of the high court order.

None of these actions are being undertaken. On the contrary, police is flouting the high court orders by putting up flexes themselves illegally to (i) celebrate Police Safety Week (ii) give information on externed criminals (iii) Buddy and Police Cop initiative.

All this is commendable social activity by the police, but not at the cost of they being in contempt of the court orders. For anyone to install flexes, hoardings and skysigns, permissions have to be given by the PMC. According to information received through RTI replies, this was not done.

Again, why is the police commissioner not able to follow the directives issued by the director general of police through his detailed circular dated April 7, 2017, on setting up a policy, directions and monitoring committees to be initiated by her at Pune level?

Qaneez Sukhrani

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 20:37 IST