BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal recently instructed civic officials to form a dedicated team to take action on illegal banners and posters defacing the city. However, the civic team appears reluctant to carry out the action due to concerns about facing the wrath of political party workers.
BMC conducted frequent special drives against illegal banners
In line with Chief Minister Eknath Shinde's directives, the BMC has conducted frequent special drives, particularly after the festive season, against illegal banners throughout the year. During a review meeting on the 'Mega Deep Cleaning' drive, Chahal instructed officials to form a permanent team for action against illegal banners. However, a source from the license department expressed, "We have been instructed to remove illegal banners, but we don't get police protection. It becomes risky to take action as political party workers manhandle our staff. Also, we are short-staffed with 108 vacant posts of licensed inspectors and 114 laborers."
Ramakant Bane, the general secretary of The Municipal Union, stated, “The license department lacks manpower, they also don't have vehicles to reach the banners which are put on the top of any trees, electricity poles, etc. In September, the civic team of R South ward were harassed and manhandled by political party workers while removing illegal banners at New Link Road in Kandivali. In such cases, the party workers get away easily while the civic staff suffers."
Action against illegal banners taken by license department
Sanjog Kabre, deputy municipal commissioner (special), mentioned, "We have sufficient vehicles, and more will be provided for the team if required. The action against illegal banners has been taken by the inspector of the license department. The ward official can assign additional staff for support."
The BMC has taken down 33,742 illegal banners and posters during January-October, which is double the action taken the previous year. The civic authorities also reported 378 cases to the police station, while only 15 FIRs were registered. The BMC had sent a letter to the Mumbai police requesting them to keep vigil, especially at night, to prevent illegal banners from defacing the city. However, they have not yet received any reply from the police authority, confirmed civic sources.