Nagpur News: The pink book containing the Outdoor Advertising Policy of Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) has been thrown to the winds thanks to the unbridled scurry for hoardings and billboards at every available space in the city. In sharp contrast to the policy and the court rulings, a number of hoardings have come up in front of educational institutions.
Rule 4 (h) of the revised edition 2006 of the policy states that ‘the signs shall not be permitted to come in front of buildings such as hospitals, educational institutions, public offices, museums, buildings devoted to religious worship and buildings of national importance as notified by the Municipal Commissioner’.
Still, huge billboards can be seen in front of various schools, colleges, public offices and even hospitals in the city. Hon’ble Justice J N Patel had raised objection against such educational institutions indulging in profit. During the course of hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed against NMC in 2001 on the same issue, Justice Patel reasoned that these institutions were given land by the government at throwaway prices and hence using them for commercial purposes is improper and unethical.
Justice Patel further ordered that educational institutions cannot be used for any commercial activity and the same came to be incorporated in the advertising policy framed under the Chairmanship of the then Municipal Commissioner. However, things have come a full circle and one can see innumerable hoardings in front of schools, colleges, public offices, etc.
Experts say that there is a need for a detailed survey of the entire city by an independent agency to assess the potential for outdoor advertising and also to mark out legal sites keeping in mind traffic safety aspect. “Because a lot has changed in these 12 years since M/s Tandon and Associates had surveyed the city for framing the policy. The Estate Department of NMC should also keep the aesthetic beauty of the city in mind before allowing the hoardings to come up,” said Mario Raposo, a vigilant citizen, adding that of late surrogate advertisements is on the rise which should be checked.
Taking a high moral ground the policy book states that ‘It was really dangerous for the drivers of the vehicles plying on the roads to concentrate on driving with so many visual distractions all around’, and hence the policy that seems to have grounded since.
When asked whether the hoardings that are in front of schools or government institutions etc. are in accordance with the policy laid down by the NMC, D D Jambhulkar, Estate Officer, NMC, tried to give evasive answers and refused to comment on whether they are legal or illegal..
When confronted with the issue, Municipal Commissioner Shyam Wardhane said that he cannot comment on it as he was not aware of the situation. “I will ask my officers to look into it,” he said.
There are over 1000 hoarding sites in the city out of which the tendered sites of NMC that are given permission on NMC property are 221.
… Rohinikant Matey