After much delay in tackling the problem of illegal hoardings in the city, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike swung into action and seized 18820 kg of flex material in just one day from all eight zones.
780 kg were seized from the West zone, 8500 kg from the East zone, 260 kg from Mahadevpura zone, 2000 kg from Yelahanka zone, 5000 kg from Bommanahalli zone, 80 kg from the south zone and 2200 kg from Dasarahalli zone.
BBMP officials also raided the printing shops of flex banners in Binnypet and Mahadevapura and seized all the materials. The Palike has collected a fine of Rs 92,000 from all seizures.
This comes after the Karnataka High Court rapped the BBMP. The HC questioned both the Police Commissioner and BBMP officials for allowing "hooliganism" to prevail in the city. This came after a BBMP Assistant Revenue Officer and several other civic workers were assaulted while taking down flex banners near Tin Factory.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice R Devdas pulled up Police Commissioner T Suneel Kumar for failing to protect the workers who were taking down the banners. The judges also gave BBMP officials a dressing down for not asking the police for protection.
‚ÄúSuch a situation sounds obnoxious and eats at the root of our system. Any single officer touched by anybody is like a challenge to this court or law. Any hooliganism has no place in Bengaluru. The police should be vigilant and the only thing that should prevail is the law,‚ÄĚ Chief Justice Maheshwari had said on Friday.
The court also instructed Commissioner Suneel Kumar to personally oversee the probe regarding the assault of BBMP officials and workers and said that government officials must not be taken for granted.
‚ÄúThe incident is an insult to the institution. The Police Commissioner will be held responsible if any such incident is repeated or a single flex erected after the removal of the existing banner," the Chief Justice added. He gave the Commissioner time till August 7 to submit the chargesheet.
Speaking to TNM on the condition of anonymity, a senior BBMP official said that it is very difficult to enforce the ban on flex banners and buntings because the flex printers restart operations just a few days after the raids are conducted.
In January this year, BBMP Commissioner Manjunath Prasad had announced that flex printing units have to shut shop in the city.
In December 2017, the BBMP had ordered a flex manufacturer, M/s 360 Degree Prints Pvt Ltd in Nagasandra to down shutters after a High Court judgement banned the use of plastic. In 2017, the High Court had banned the use of plastic above 40 microns. Since flex banners use plastic which is above 250 microns, the Palike had issued notices to the manufacturers and printers of flex banners to shut shop.
"Around 5 lakh people in Bengaluru are employed by the advertisers, manufacturers and printers of flex banners. Since the ban affects their livelihoods, they continue to carry on the operations illegally. But we have now begun carrying out systematic raids to ensure that no shop pops up illegally. We will conduct raids regularly and ensure that the ban is enforced properly," the BBMP official added.