BBMP cracks the whip on illegal advertisements in Bengaluru after high court rap

BBMP commissioner has warned officials of stern action if they failed in executing their duties.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Aug 31, 2023 | 8:02 PMUpdatedAug 31, 2023 | 8:12 PM

Officials from BBMP's Vasanthanagar Sub-division removing the illegal flex banner put up in front of the KPCC office in Bengaluru. (Supplied)

It took a high court rap for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) to wake up from slumber and crack down on those putting up illegal advertisement material — hoardings, flex boards, banners, and posters — and defacing the city.

Expressing shock that the civic body had done nothing to check the unregulated and uncontrolled publicity material, the High Court of Karnataka on 2 August ordered the BBMP and the state government to deposit ₹50,000 each with the court for every illegal hoarding put up in the city. And the BBMP got cracking.

While hearing a petition by a concerned citizen, Maige Gowda, on 30 August, a division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna Balachandra Varale and Justice MJS Kamal was told that the BBMP had submitted a compliance report and the implementation plan. The court had earlier directed the BBMP chief to file the report.

Gowda had filed the public interest litigation in 2018.

The BBMP informed the court that it was taking necessary steps to penalise those putting up illegal advertisements in the city.

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Mission clean-up

The civic body’s counsel informed the bench that 264 FIRs had been registered against persons who had put up illegal advertisements.

The court was also told that 923 flexes, banners and other illegal advertisements identified since 2 August have been removed. As many as 369 complaints were registered and 264 FIRs were filed against the accused agencies.

“Since a single agency puts up several advertisements, the FIRs registered are lesser than the number of complaints lodged. The court will summon the accused party and based on the evidence, will slap them with a fine of ₹1,000 or sentence them to simple imprisonment for three months or both, whichever the court decides,” Assistant Commissioner, Advertisement Department, BBMP, Sridhar Reddy told South First.

BBMP Chief Commissioner Tushar Giri Nath said the civic body’s revenue officials and police officers have been tasked with the responsibility of curbing the advertisement menace in the city.

“The city should be clean of these illegal advertisements. We have directed the Revenue Officials (RO) and the Assistant Revenue Officers (ARO) to identify such hoardings and go after the culprits and file cases against them,” he told South First.

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BBMP in aggressive mode

Elaborating, Nath said police personnel on night patrol have been instructed to keep an eye open for those defacing public places.

“Each zone’s joint commissioner and chief engineer have been directed to provide both manpower, equipment, and vehicles for recoveries. Disciplinary action will be taken against errant officials,” the chief commissioner said.

The official added that “even members of the general public can file complaints about illegal advertisements on the Namma Bengaluru (Sahaaya2.0) app”.

The BBMP appeared to be aggressively going after the menace only after the court pulled it up for its lackadaisical attitude toward controlling the menace.

During an earlier hearing, the BBMP had informed the high court that it had filed a compliance report, which the court termed an ‘eyewash’. The court also expressed displeasure over the fact that only 134 complaints were filed. It was then that the court warned the BBMP and government of penalising them.

Soon after the high court’s intervention, the BBMP held a video conference of all special commissioners and zonal commissioners of all eight zones. During the meeting, it was decided that ward-wise teams would be formed to identify illegal advertisements, lodge complaints and follow up with registration of FIRs.

The BBMP officials were also warned of disciplinary action if they failed to execute their duties.