The Bombay High Court had warned that it will drag all Municipal commissioners in Maharashtra for contempt, if civic bodies do not state what steps they have taken to make their cities free of illegal banners and hoardings, before Republic Day. The court had on November 26, 2015, directed that a special drive be conducted from December 5 to ensure that no hoarding should exist. It asked municipal corporations to file compliance affidavits failing which contempt of court action will be taken against the municipal commissioners.
I am strongly against the banner culture followed by all the political parties. Despite the Bombay High Court coming heavily on the Mumbai and other Municipal Corporations and issuing instruction to remove all illegal banners, the city is still not free of the banners. Over the past several years, several banners have started mushrooming and getting installed at every available space in the street be it on street light, poles, trees, residential complex balconies, hoardings or arches in a lane etc. These banners have invaded every inch of a space in several parts of the metropolis. What’s astonishing is that banners have come to occupy every vantage points and obstruct even traffic signals thereby distracting drivers.
It is not only the advertisement banners and the publicity hoardings that have come up in every place. But, I notice that by and large, 90 per cent of these banners are installed by political parties and local leaders, who mostly want to publicize about themselves and express their appeasement to their leaders. Nowadays, it has become a fashion and trend to display banners wishing a leader on his birthday almost every week. Many hoardings carry no important message than congratulatory messages, wishes and greetings from local leaders and activists on their leader joining a major political party or on being elected as an office bearer or being bestowed with some plum post. And such banners carry photographs of several local workers, which is one reason why many of those occupy large space. I have often seen big banners carrying not less than 50-60 photographs of the leaders/ well-wishers, believe it or not and even illuminated with colour series lights! And, actual message is mostly lost in such banners!
Besides, come festival seasons like Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid or Diwali or even Christmas or New Year, political leaders and parties vie with each other to convey their greetings and wishes to the people again by placing banners with as many photographs at crucial places. In fact, one tends to feel, that certain vantage points are taken on lease by the elite parties or leaders to keep on displaying banners for one cause or the other, throughout the year!
It’s high time these banners are banned for once and for all by the civic administration, especially in view of the High Court directive. Parties or the leaders responsible for installing such banners, must be issued with strict guidelines like the banners cannot obstruct traffic signals, view from residential balconies, cannot block the lanes and obstruct movement of traffic, restriction on the size of the banners etc. Of course, we hope that yet another banner for some other reason or cause do not crop up in the same place.
Let us not have big dreams of making Mumbai a Shanghai. We should begin with banning the banners and make the city look somewhat green, open and beautiful. And “ban the banners” should also be a part of the “SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN” Scheme.