Well there was a time when, while driving on Mumbai’s roads you would look out for those funny Amul billboards or have pretty film stars staring down at you from advertising hoardings. But off late the only hoardings/billboards you get to see every where are put up by political parties wishing their leaders a happy birthday or congratulating them on some electoral win or welcoming them into the city or .. uummm …. just about anything! So instead of your pretty Bollywood starlets, we have kurta or lungi clad ugly politicians in various poses staring into your face through awful & garish hoardings. I had once actually seen a nanasaheb someone pose with his dog on such a hoarding!! In fact I had read somewhere that nearly 90% of the hoardings in Mumbai are political while the remaining are religious or cultural. To add to it political parties mostly pay fees only for 50% of their total hoardings while the rest are illegal. Should we be surprised? Instead of earning revenues from these political hoardings, BMC spends around INR 1lac daily to get them removed as it has to deploy a vehicle and four employees in each ward every day to bring them down.
So it was really encouraging to see Maharashtra’s new CM, Prithviraj Chavan ordering his supporters to pull down all the hoarding congratulating him on becoming the CM. This led to BMC going on overdrive and pulling down over 500 unauthorised hoardings in Mumbai in a single day!
Actually in July 2010, Mumbai high court had said that a political leader whose picture appears on illegal hoardings or banners can be prosecuted. But funnily the fine for illegal display of hoardings in India is INR 50 to 100 irrespective of their size. Continuing offense attracts a princely penalty of INR 10/day! Also politicians argue that these banners do not bear the name of the person who put them up, so it gets difficult to prosecute the offender. But I think it’s high time our leaders are made accountable for acts of their party workers. There has to be a code of conduct for the party. Some one has to be accountable. We cannot let them treat our city as their personal blackboard!