After a delay of over a year, the BMC’s anti-banners/posters policy is expected to come up for discussion at the civic group leaders’ meeting within a month’s time.
However, with the festive season nearing and the Assembly polls around the corner, approvals for the policy may be delayed till the start of the next calendar year.
Since the Bombay High Court’s March 2013 ban on all illegal political, commercial and religious banners and posters in the city, the draft policy has been pending after its concept was given an in-principle nod by the civic leaders in May last year.
“We had identified a few problems with the policy earlier. These issues have been recently resolved, so we will pass the policy soon,” Mayor Sunil Prabhu (Shiv Sena) said, without giving a deadline. The Mayor presides over the group leaders’ meeting which includes the BMC corporator leaders of various political parties, and the chairmen of the civic education, health improvements committees.
On March 14 last year, the HC, while hearing PIL, had ordered a ban on all illegal banners, hoardings and posters in Mumbai and other cities in the state. The court gave the municipal corporations 24 hours to remove all such advertisements and said that henceforth, municipal commissioners of these corporations will be held as co-conspirators for failing to strictly implement the ban.
Subsequently, the civic administration sought the cooperation of political parties to introduce a banners policy, which would prevent proliferation of such signages across the city.
Samajwadi Party leader Rais Shaikh said, “We had referred back the policy to the civic administration for certain changes, but it has kept it pending. The administration is to be blamed for the delay as they seem to have zero will to pass the policy. In the last three meetings at least the administration has failed to put it on the meeting agenda it is tasked with preparing.”
Opposition leader Devendra Amberkar said corporators’ concerns with the policy mainly related to two aspects — on which festival days should banners and posters be allowed, and the exact areas where the banners/ posters can be permitted.
As per the administration’s revised policy, there is a total ban on political, commercial and religious banners/ posters except for the days of Eid, Christmas, Ganpati and Durga Puja. On these particular days banners will be allowed within a 100 meter distance of a mandap/ pandal set up anywhere across Mumbai.
A senior civic official from the administration said, “We have been ready with the policy for months now but it has not been taken up on the agenda for discussion. The HC ban categorically states a full ban on hoardings but there have been negotiations to make some exceptions. Despite agreeing to these, the policy has yet to be approved. We have included these facts in a report we submitted to the court in March.”