BMC, cops play safe; turn a blind eye to illegal banners

Civic officials, responsible for taking down illegal boards and banners during festivals, say they prefer to let them stay till festivities get over rather disturb peace in the city

Mumbai : The streets of Mumbai will be free of illegal banners and boards only after the 10-day long Ganeshotsav gets over on Sunday. Civic officials, responsible for taking down banners that deface city streets during festivals, say they prefer to let them stay till festivities get over rather disturb peace.

An official of the license department, on condition of anonymity, said that it’s practically impossible to take any action against illegal boards as they are put up by Ganesh mandals with the support of political parties.

He also alleged that local party workers harass, and even beat up civic employees, who dare to pull down the boards.

“Our officials have had to be admitted in ICU after they initiated such drives. Therefore, now we just ignore such boards,” he said.

He added that the cops are supposed to provide protection to civic workers during such drives, but due to lack of manpower even they aren’t of much help. “If we are provided adequate police protection, then we are ready to pull down any such illegal banner,” he said.

According to civic rules, only boards and banner put up within 100 meters from pandals are legal.

When asked why mandals do not follow the rules set by the BMC, Naresh Dahibawkar, president of the Brihanmumbai Sarvajanik Ganeshutsav Samanvay Samiti, put the blame on outsiders. “People take advantage of the festival and secretly put their boards during the night. Even we are trying to find out who puts them up, so that they can be fined.”

Dahibawkar said that the mandals have brought this issue up the civic chief Ajoy Mehta before the festival, requesting him to set up a policy to nab such miscreants.

However a BMC spokesperson termed these as excuses by the mandals to save themselves from owning up the responsibility.

Eeshanpriya MS

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