Mumbai: Following the directives of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, the BMC administration has announced a drive against illegal banners and posters in the city. However, the civic team of the license department is reluctant to carry out the action as they have to face the wrath of the political party workers. After one such incident in Kandivali, the civic staff have now demanded police protection while they are removing the illegal banners.
A special drive was launched by the BMC on September 1, after the chief minister directed civic authorities to keep Mumbai clean during the Ganesh festival. Yet, several banners and posters of political parties, including Eknath Shinde-led Shivsena and BJP are seen outside Ganesh Pandals in Mumbai. "We have been instructed to remove the illegal banners also during night time, but we don't get police protection. It becomes risky to take action as the political party workers manhandle our staff. Also, we are short-staffed with 108 vacant posts of licensed inspector and 114 labourers," said a civic official.
The civic team of R South ward were harassed and manhandled by the political party workers while they were removing the illegal banners at New Link road, Dahanukar wadi in Kandivali last month. Ramakant Bane, general secretary of The Municipal Union said, "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. They have been told to take action during the night, but who will protect them from the political party workers? We have requested the civic authorities to call a meeting to discuss the issue."
This year, the BMC has allowed every Ganesh Mandal to display advertising banners till 100 metres from their pandal. However, areas like Parel, Lal baug, Dadar, Sewri, Vikhroli, Bhandup where Ganesh Pandals are very near to each other. So more advertisements and political banners can be seen in these areas, said a civic source. Meanwhile, a senior civic official said, "Several banners, mostly political, are put in prime locations at night time. So we have written a letter to the police commissioner requesting him to increase night vigils and take strict action on such offenders. The letter will be sent soon after administrative approval."