Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Banner is flying, permits notwithstanding
It is one banner, which has exposed the nexus between civic officials and politicians and gross misuse of public property. Across the city, around 500 illegal banners, from Cuffe Parade to Borivali, advertising a commercial project of ex-Congress MLA, Chandrakant Gosalia, are now in the eye of a storm. James John, volunteer of NGO AGNI from the K-east ward, who along with various other coordinators have been fighting against illegal banners coming up in the area, has filed a complaint with the local ward office on Sunday (complaint no SV20203447). “These banners have come up in the ward overnight despite our vigilance,” said John, who has filed at least 150 complaints to remove banners in the past month. “This particular banner is an out-an-out violation since permission to put the banner cannot be granted as any form of banners within 20 metres from the road,” says John.The banners advertise Gemstar — a new commercial complex project developed in Malad (west). “Suited for BPOs, IT businesses, banquet halls and offices” is what the banner says with the names of Chandrakant and son Ashish Gosalia on it. When DNA called up the mobile number mentioned on it, a spokesperson for the company said, “Tell me what your needs are. We have excellent spaces for offices.” When asked if they have permissions from BMC, the spokesman said, “I think we have permissions for putting these banners in each ward. I cannot divulge more details.”Almost every electric pole on crucial junctions like World Trade Centre, Peddar Road, Mahalaxmi, Mahim, Bandra, Santa Cruz, Juhu and Andheri is occupied by this commercial banner, with no one objecting to it. In fact, the Andheri-Kurla road has at least 10 of these banners tied to the light poles over a 1-kilometer stretch. Municipal commissioner Johnny Joseph said he is unaware of the permission granted to such banners advertising a commercial project. “We are very strict with banners now and allow only 10 in each Assembly constituency. In fact, last month, we removed 5,800 illegal banners across the city. I will look into the matter,” he added. Gosalia said, “I’m not sure if I have taken any permission for these banners.” When asked if anyone in his office would know about it, he said, “I will have to check on this. But the chances are of us not seeking the permission is high.”Even the local civic officials maintained silence over the issue. “The BMC-politician nexus runs strong all over the city,” said Ravi Nair, who takes photographs of illegal banners in suburbs and reports it to the BMC regularly.