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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Flex-ible Nuisance

Illegal hoardings and flex boards dotting the city's skylines and footpaths may stay in the absence of any concrete action from the Pune Municipal Corporation so far.

In a latest, the anti-encroachment department of the PMC has passed the buck on ward offices. Ward officers have been asked to register police case against those who put up illegal hoardings and deface the city. We will take strict action against those responsible," as per PMC directive. However, PMC failed to explain what action has been taken against the violators so far.

All party corporators had raised the issue in the general body meeting held recently. PMC officials then promised immediate action. Ironically, most of the illegal flex boards and hoardings that swarm the city are put up by supporters of local politicians.

In February 2012 election, two corporators will represent a population between 28,000 and 33,000 in the new panel system. Earlier, voting for each ward was done separately. The new multi-member ward system clubs two or more wards. Voters will have to elect two (one male and one female) representative from each ward cluster (panel).

A majority of the sitting corporators across parties have displayed huge flex boards and banners displaying photographs of themselves and their wives indirectly announcing their candidature.

Normally, Diwali greetings extended through flex boards put up at strategic locations is considered fairly good enough by politicians to woo their voters. But with the civic polls round the corner, these leaders have now resorted to delivering festive greeting cards at doorsteps and distribute sweet boxes and gift articles, not costing less than Rs 100, to each family.

Sponsoring tours of women and senior citizens to the Ashthavinayak pilgrimage centres was another common method used by politicians to win over their voters, but now a visit to Anna Hazare’s Ralegan Siddhi is another hot destination included in the itinerary.

For the last few months, almost all the sitting corporators in Pimpri-Chinchwad had opened up centres in their wards to help people register for the Adhar cards.

These aspirants have also put up flex boards, urging people to ensure their names are included in the voters’ list.

Many aspirants had hosted dandiya dances during Navratri festival this year. Now some of them are organising ‘Diwali Pahat’ musical concerts during Diwali this week. Popular actresses and singers, have been invited to attend these functions to ensure a large audience.

The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) took action against illegal flex boards put by various ‘groups’ in the city on the occasion of the Navaratri festival

Not only political flexes don the space but also commercial ones.

The traffic chaos in Pune city has been increasing drastically. The hoardings and the flex boards with attractive messages on them have paved way for this chaotic traffic.

Nearly 15 to 20 hoardings with attractive offer messages and advertisements are attracting the commuters.

Many of the commuters have started blocking the roads by pausing and clicking pictures and taking down information written on them.

After strict orders passed on by Hinjewadi police, respective company officials have taken back the hoardings.

The official said the civic body would file criminal cases against the people who put up these boards for defacement. If proven guilty, they would be fined. The cases would be filed on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the PMC on Monday invited suggestions and objections from citizens to its new hoarding policy by October 30. Those interested may contact the sky sign department in working hours between October 10 and 15.

The PMC has prepared the new hoarding policy by which the city has been divided into four zones and monopoly rights of hoardings would be given to the highest bidder. The state government has suspended the policy for want of due procedure. Against this background, the suggestions and objections have been invited.

Point of issue is traffic problems, loss of revenue to PMC and visual ugliness that these flex have subjected Pune citizens to. Not to mention political brownie points, rivalries, mal practises and corruption which lie undercurrent to the issue?

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