Dotting hoardings eclipse Orange City – A Smart City on cards

Nagpur: “Is the Second Capital City of Nagpur marching towards the tag of Smart City?” The question is often cropping in minds of citizens. The answer is a big no. On the other hand, dotting hoardings and bill boards in every nook and corner, in fact, eclipsing the ‘beauty’ and ‘serenity’ of the Orange City and thus creating a visual pollution.

The cash-strapped Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has framed such a facile and strict outdoor advertisement policy that, if implemented in letter and spirit, it can fill its coffers to a great extent. The policy can also save the city from defacing its character. But what is happening is contrary, to say the least.

The Orange City boasts of having a number of market spots which are flooded with shoppers and others. However, these market places and other places such as squares, vantage points are deluged with bill boards, posters, hoardings, many of them illegal. Most of these hoardings, under the garb of extending greetings to bigwig politicos, have been erected on temporary poles or traffic signals. Interestingly, many hoardings have been put up deriding NMC policy and High Court directives. A number of hoardings were installed by advertising companies after the NMC authorities framed a policy to check their illegal use. Scant regard is given to the historic importance of the Orange City by violating the rules and regulations with impunity.

Not that the NMC authorities, particularly the head of Advertisement Department Smita Kale, aware of the mushrooming of ‘tasteless’ hoardings and posters. They receive a number of complaints on regular basis. But the ‘passing the buck’ attitude is spoiling the image of this great city. The concerned zones of the civic body are told to deal with the menace. Even though NMC has policy for controlling outdoor advertisements (or hoardings) including semi-nude posters, some nasty ads dot the city. “Is money exchanging the hands for turning a blind eye towards the menace?” is the question.

Another cause of concern is ‘proxy’ advertising that is used to sell alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco products that cannot be advertised directly under Indian laws. But one can spot innumerable such ads to influence the prospective customers at the cost of law.

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court had directed the Municipal Commissioner to immediately take steps to remove all unauthorised hoardings in areas under his jurisdiction. It had also pulled up the civic body, saying the state of affairs only indicated the lack of compliance with the law and a total absence of administrative will. The court had also directed the Municipal Commissioner to put in place a system to monitor the steps taken to remove the unauthorised hoardings and against the advertiser. But it seems, little action had been taken to follow the court order.

A posh hotel in the act:
The Ramdaspeth-based posh hotel – Centre Point Hotel – has been found erected a big hoarding of its another establishment just besides the main gate. The hoarding has covered most of the footpath. No need to guess that the blockage of footpath is posing hurdles for its users. Moreover, the footpath is evened up and is being used as parking lot for the hotel guests. The concerned NMC authority was apprised of the violation. But instead of personally inspecting and disciplining the erring hotel, buck was passed on to the zonal authorities.