May 22, 2009 1:12:54 am
With an eye on the beautification of the city before the Commonwealth Games,the Municipal Corporation of Delhi has come up with a unique proposal. It plans to have a fixed size for all signboards outside shops in different markets. Those exceeding the prescribed measurements will be taxed.
As part of its outdoor advertising policy formulated to ensure uniform and aesthetically-driven advertising in the city,the proposal,tabled last Wednesday in a standing committee meeting,stipulates that shopkeepers should pay tax for all signboards above 2.5 square metres in size. The proposal fixes the width of signboards at 0.75 metres,above which they are liable to be taxed. While the tax rates will range from Rs 110 per square metre per annum to Rs 163 per square metre per annum,depending on the locality of a particular commercial establishment,the length of signboards will not be allowed to exceed that of the shop.
The proposal has been made keeping in view the Delhi Outdoor Advertising Policy approved by the Supreme Court in October 2007 and aims to beautify the city for the Commonwealth Games, said Amiya Chandra,Additional Deputy Commissioner and Head of the Department,Advertisements and Remuneration Project Cell.
Chandra denied that this was a revenue generation drive and said the move was expected to generate only about Rs 30 crore per annum. If all signboards are of uniform size,the entire market will look beautiful, he said.
The proposal,however,has not gone down well with traders and shopkeepers. Praveen Khandelwal,secretary general of the Confederation of All India Traders,has already started lobbying against the proposal. This move is not legally tenable as it goes against Section 142 (B) of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi Act,1957,which permits individuals to indicate their profession or business with the help of signboards.
While the matter will be taken up in the standing committee meeting to be held again next week,as it was deferred for re-consideration,councillors are split over the never-heard-before idea. Ram Kishan Singhal,chairman of the MCD Standing Committee,said: I think signboards should be taxed because they distract motorists and disturb the traffic. But we dont want to burden the traders of Delhi either.
Meera Agarwal of the Bharatiya Janata Party had opposed the bill when it was tabled. She said: Decisions like setting limits to the size of signboards are attempts to interfere with the independent choice of the traders.
Singhal added that the final decision would be taken only after a discussion with the officials concerned.
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