Ludhiana: Law takes the backseat for CM Amarinder’s welcome on September 6
Going all out to welcome Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who was scheduled to visit Ludhiana on Wednesday, the Congress party has put up numerous illegal hoardings across the city.
The chief minister was to reach the city to lay down the foundation stones of various development projects, including reconstruction of 129-year-old Jagraon Bridge and a railway overbridge on Pakhowal Road, but his trip was cancelled at the eleventh hour on Tuesday, with Punjab local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu being tasked to arrive in his place.
Having no approval of the municipal corporation (MC), unipoles have been splashed with pictures of Congress leaders, in violation of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act 1976 and the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 1997.
The green direction boards, a safe canvas for politicians, have again fallen prey to their publicity tactics, with the civic body ostensibly looking the other way. The ones on Ferozepur Road have been covered up with vinyl banners sporting faces of senior Congress leaders, including the chief minister and local bodies minister, smiling down at the commuters.
Ironically, illegal hoardings of Congress leaders were being installed in the open view of civic body and police officials on Jagraon Bridge on Tuesday.
Under Section 3 of the Punjab Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 1997, anyone defacing any property in public view by, writings or making with ink, chalk, paint or any other material or by erecting staffs, banners or by pasting notices and writing slogans without the written permission of the owner of the property, will be punishable with imprisonment for a term, which may extend to six months, or with fine, which may extend to ₹1,000, or both.
Yet, in absence of any action or police complaints by the civic body, illegal vinyl banners and flex boards by political parties continue to spring up across the city throughout the year.
Meanwhile, commuters remain at the receiving end, with the direction boards having been covered up. “Political banners have been installed on roadsides and centre verges, which has made it impossible for commuters, that include many tourists, to see the directions,” said Rajesh Verma, a visitor to Ghumar Mandi.
Notably, the civic body in July had sent notices to some shopkeepers for displaying unauthorised advertisements, warning them of a Rs 50,000 fine if the boards were not removed.
“The situation remains the same, no matter which party is in rule. While earlier Akali leaders promoted their leaders through illegal hoardings, now Congress leaders are following suit. If the MC can act against shopkeepers for defacement, they should also bring these parties to book. The law should be equal for all,” Satinderpal Singh of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, said, adding that the local bodies department needed to look into these illegalities.
MC superintendent, headquarters, Harvinder Singh said the party did not approach the civic body for permission to display the hoardings on unipoles. “I will look into the matter. Notices will be served to those violating the law,” MC commissioner Jaskiran Singh said.