Refrain from using vaccination centres for publicity: BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal asks politicians to avoid putting up banners

Dipti SinghUpdated: Thursday, June 03, 2021, 08:45 PM IST
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Refrain from using vaccination centres for publicity: BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal asks politicians to avoid putting up banners | File Image

Almost a fortnight after Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal on Thursday issued a circular asking elected public representatives to refrain from using vaccination centres for publicity of their respective political party. Through this order, the civic commissioner has asked the elected public representatives to not put up posters, hoardings, banners showing photos and logos on and around vaccination centres.

Majority of BMC corporators have started vaccination centres in their respective wards, BMC officials said.

Chahal said: " We have received many such complaints about political parties and elected public representatives using vaccination centres for their publicity. It is not appropriate to put up such inappropriate advertisements and hoardings during this time, considering the pandemic situation going on in the city."

Tackling the mammoth second wave of COVID-19 was a task that Chahal handled with elan. But now he and his team BMC are facing an age-old problem of elected representatives claiming to have started vaccination centres in their respective wards or areas.

With an eye on civic polls 2022, political leaders ad elected public representatives have not only started setting up vaccination centres but also started organising vaccination camps (both free and paid) for citizens by directly tying up with private hospitals, or facilitating tie-ups between hospitals and housing societies even as the state government and BMC are struggling with a shortage of vaccines doses.

Last month, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) administration issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the vaccination drive to curb interference from political parties. The SOPs include not allowing members of political parties or any person to enter the vaccination centre. Staffers at the centre can now seek police protection to handle the situation and file a case against any intruder. The commissioner’s order also prohibits posters or hoardings around vaccination centres.

Not issuing such SOP as the Pune civic body, still, the Mumbai civic body seems to have drawn a clear line, making it clear to the elected public representatives that they will not be allowed to put up posters, hoardings, banners on and around vaccination centres.

The chief of Mumbai civic body in the circular stated: "As everyone is aware, all the corporators were requested to actively participate, lend their assistance and cooperate for making the vaccination drive across the city a success. In fact, the response we received from all the corporators, as well as all the MLAs and MPs, has been excellent and overwhelming. However, even if this was exceptional, we found that some elected public representatives have claimed that the vaccination centres were started by them by putting up billboards, hoardings and banners of the political parties with their photos on them. This even though the resources including vaccine stocks, as well as all other required equipment, materials, necessary staff, doctors, the suitable place made available and provided by BMC at its own cost."

The civic chief has directed the Assistant Municipal Commissioners of all wards as well as Deputy Municipal Commissioner and Joint Municipal Commissioners of all seven zones, to give a written request to all elected public representatives in all wards asking them to stop putting up such billboards, hoardings and banners. "Besides this, the officials have been instructed to personally meet the elected public representatives and get the hoardings, banners removed. In cases there are still any hoardings, banners, billboards put up, the officials have been directed to remove them and submit a report on the same to the Additional Municipal Commissioner (Special).

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