‘You are the first enemy of the city’ – High Court condemns BBMP’s casual approach to illegal hoardings, loss of revenue

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The High Court of Karnataka has strongly criticised the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city’s municipal body, for its lax approach in dealing with illegal hoardings, branding it the “first enemy of the city.” The court’s rebuke was in response to the negative consequences of this casual attitude, not only leading to the unsightly proliferation of illegal hoardings but also causing significant financial losses to the civic body.

The court’s observations came during a hearing on Wednesday, where it directed the BBMP to undertake a comprehensive survey of all hoardings, advertisement boards, and flexes erected across Bengaluru. The survey must include details such as the number of permissions granted for these structures, the duration of permissions, the fees collected, and the number of structures put up without proper authorization, all over the past three years.

The court highlighted the financial repercussions of the BBMP’s failure to address the issue effectively. “The BBMP is losing revenue due to the mushrooming of illegal hoardings due to the casual approach. But the civic body turns its back citing financial crunch when the issue of providing basic facilities is raised, and the citizens are burdened with additional taxes for providing basic facilities,” the court noted.

Senior Advocate Ravivarma Kumar, representing one of the petitioners, emphasized that commercial hoarding owners are required to pay fees to the BBMP. The unchecked proliferation of illegal hoardings is causing a substantial loss of revenue for the civic body. He also alleged that BBMP officials are complicit with advertisers, resulting in hundreds of illegal advertisements.

Take necessary steps – Court

The court echoed these concerns, stating, “It is the loss of revenue to the BBMP, and to fill that loss, you will burden the citizens. This is the problem. You [BBMP] are the first enemy of the city.”

In addition to its criticism of the BBMP’s lax approach, the court directed the municipal body to take the necessary steps to address the issue. This includes pursuing action against officials who have been negligent in preventing and acting against illegal hoardings. The BBMP had previously claimed that it had issued 242 notices to junior officers for their dereliction of duty or slow and lethargic performance in addressing illegal hoardings.

The High Court’s sharp critique underscores the pressing need for the BBMP to actively address the issue of illegal hoardings and protect Bangalore‘s aesthetics and revenue streams.

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