Mumbai: The BMC has pulled down 33,742 illegal banners and posters from January to October, which is double the action taken the previous year. The civic authorities reported 378 cases to the police station, while only 15 FIRs were registered. The civic authorities have recently sent a letter to Mumbai police requesting them to keep vigil, especially at night time, to prevent illegal banners defacing the city.
The BMC has removed 16,360 illegal banners and posters between January and December 2022. The banners and posters were seen defacing the city this year too. Taking serious note of this, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, directed the civic officials to take action on illegal banners regularly. So, the BMC has taken frequent special drives during the last few months, especially after the festive season. The highest number of 9,802 illegal banners were removed in September and 8,226 in October.
BMC releases official data
As per the official data from the BMC, 19,580 banners were religious in nature, 11,041 political and 3,121 commercial. Around 2,889 flags of political parties were also removed from several parts of the city. Prime locations such as Kandivali, Andheri, Santacruz, Bandra and Bhandup were among the most defaced areas. However, prosecution was launched in 801 cases, 378 cases were reported to police stations and 15 FIRs were registered.
"We have a team in each ward who visits their respective areas on a regular basis and pulls down the banners. But several banners, mostly political, are put in prime locations at night time. The civic staff are reluctant to go for any action since they have to face the wrath of political party workers. We have written to the police commissioner to increase night vigils and take strict action on such offenders," said a senior civic official. Mumbai Guardian Minister Deepak Kesarkar has recently assured that the state government will make a code or rules for the erection of banners in Mumbai.
After removing the banners, the civic body takes their pictures and complains against the person whose name is on them, under the Defacement Act. Also, a case was filed against illegal commercial hoarding in the Metropolitan Magistrate's court which can levy a fine of Rs 5,000. The police complaints are filed under the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1995, which states that a person can be fined Rs 2,000 or face three-month imprisonment, or both. The civic body annually removes around 15,000 to 20,000 such hoardings and banners. Of these, 45 per cent are either for festivities or to convey birthday wishes to a political leader.