The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) license department carried out a special drive last week, spanning three days, to remove 1,931 illegal hoardings, banners, posters, and flags from main and interior roads in priority areas. This action was taken under the guidance of municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. In the year 2022, a total of 16,360 illegal banners were taken down across the city.
The drive commenced on Thursday with the aim of maintaining cleanliness along the roads. Zonal deputy municipal commissioners were directed to conduct inspections in their respective zones to ensure compliance with the orders. According to official BMC data, out of the removed banners, 688 were of a religious nature, 283 were political, and 253 were commercial. Prominent areas like Colaba, Ghatkopar, Dadar, Bandra, and Mulund were among the most affected. Alongside 196 posters, approximately 416 flags were also removed during the drive.
A civic official stated, "Regular action has been taken against unauthorized posters and banners. The special drive lasted for 3 days, but the ward-level team continues to keep vigil in their respective areas, removing any illegal banners and posters they come across." After removing the banners, the civic body takes photographs and files complaints against the individuals whose names appear on them under the Defacement Act. Cases are also filed against illegal commercial hoardings in the Metropolitan Magistrate's court, which has the authority to impose a fine of Rs5,000.
Police complaints are filed under the Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 1995, which stipulates a fine of Rs2,000 or a three-month imprisonment, or both, for offenders. Additionally, offenders can be penalized under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and face fines ranging from Rs1,000 to Rs5,000 for installing illegal hoardings or posters. The civic body routinely removes around 15,000 to 20,000 such hoardings and banners annually. Of these, 45% are related to festivities or conveying birthday wishes to political leaders. The number of illegal hoardings tends to increase during the festive season.