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NGOs up in arms as Mumbai turns a city of posters

Since 26/11,Mumbai has seen an influx of posters,many of them lauding the city’s three bravehearts — Hemant Karkare...

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai |
January 12, 2009 10:58:25 pm

Since 26/11,Mumbai has seen an influx of posters,many of them lauding the city’s three bravehearts — Hemant Karkare,Vijay Salaskar and Ashok Kamte — who lost their lives in the attacks. Almost each one bears the name of a political party. Worse,many of these posters were put up without the permission of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

On Sunday,a group of citizens under the umbrella of Jagrut Nagrik Manch (JNM),an association of NGOs,came together in Andheri to protest against illegal hoardings and to criticise the political culture of cashing in on emotions. “We are tired of these illegal banners around our city. They are making a mockery of the martyrs,” said Jitendra Singh,a member of JNM.

Singh says that according to BMC rules,political hoardings can be put in place for a maximum period of five days. “We have studied the BMC rule on hoardings. It clearly states that in each ward there can be only 10 hoardings. How did they get the necessary permit. We had complained to the civic body many times but nothing happened,” Singh said.

JNM had sent a notice to the BMC,the Mayor and the commissioner on December 26. But seeing no concrete response,they resorted to this step. “We are following a reform-based,action-oriented agenda. Today,we took out 20 posters from our area. This was done in a peaceful manner,” said Anil Bahl,a volunteer.

“We are not against any particular party or person. But illegal posters must go. If the civic body doesn’t ensure that,collective action can do something,” Bahl said. The group will be undertaking a similar protest at Diamond gardens,Chembur,on January 18.

Mayor Shubha Raul surprisingly supported the cause. “Since it was post-terror attacks it was a sensitive issue. But I think all political parties are playing the card too much now. And illegal hoardings must clearly go,” said Raul. “Even cities like Hyderabad and Nashik is not covered with posters,there is no reason why an international city like Mumbai should have them,” she said.

The Mayor said she had a meeting with the commissioner on the issue last week. “We decided that in each ward some area can be demarcated where political parties can put up their hoardings,” said Raul.

Raul suggested that in each ward an area of three feet can be demarcated,where all registered political parties can put up their hoardings in a line. “This way all parties can make sure that they propagate their messages equally and the civic body can make sure that no one puts illegal hoardings,” she said.

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