Hoardings were banned in 2018 because they were considered an eyesore. The idea was to help clean up Bengaluru.
Hoardings, flexes, and banners can be seen all over the city, despite them being prohibited by the Outdoor Signage and Public Messaging Bylaws 2018. Advertising in public spaces was banned to beautify Bengaluru.
The Bruhat Bengaluru MahanagaraPalike (BBMP) has an advertising department, which is in-charge of imposing and executing these bylaws. An official from this department said, “The Advertising Bylaws are like a Bible to us.” She said that based on the bylaws, all types of hoardings are prohibited, especially in residential areas. In case anyone wants to put up any kind of hoarding, they have to get a license issued by the Zonal Office that their area comes under. She added that licenses for hoardings are only given if the required hoarding meets all the requirements mentioned in the bylaws.
Each hoarding has to display the computerized code number allotted to it by the BBMP. The hoarding should not get in the way of the public. For putting up a hoarding on a high-rise building, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) should be obtained from the fire department. These are a few of the requirements mentioned in the advertising bylaws. “Before applying for a license for a hoarding, one should be mindful of all these requirements or else their application will be rejected,” said the official.
The High Court had banned all types of banners and hoardings in 2018. But, in 2021, on the day BS Yediyurappa resigned as the chief minister of Karnataka, the state government had passed the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Advertisement Rules 2021. These rules made a provision for people to put up hoardings in the city. They were later revoked after they received strong opposition from the Urban Development Department (UDD) of Karnataka.
Gauri, a resident of the city for the past 20 years, said, “When I found out about the ban, I remember thinking that the city is finally getting clean. But unfortunately, it is still filled with hoardings and banners blocking the skies.” She said that even if the hoarding is removed, its frame is still left. She added that she does not think she will see a truly clean Bengaluru like the BBMP promised.
The official from BBMP said that they have special vehicles to clear up the illegal hoardings, called Prahari. She said, “The hoardings that are still visible in the city are all legal.” She said that most political parties were issued temporary licenses for their banners and hoardings. These temporary licenses last seven days, after which they can get them renewed if needed. She added that the punishment for violating the advertising bylaws is a fine of Rs. 1,000 for each day of violation.
On the other hand, another official from the same BBMP office said, “Most of the hoardings and banners we can see in the city are unauthorised, especially the political banners.” He said that they did not issue licenses to all the hoardings or banners visible. The ones identified as unauthorised are being removed by their office. He added that the advertising bylaws prohibit any kind of hoardings which are visible in the public right-of-way.
Dr. Srinivasa V Chakragiri, Director and Chief Research Officer of Street Matrix, a design agency, works to make cities livable, smart and sustainable. He said that there is nothing wrong in putting up hoardings if they contribute to economic activity, which is very important. He said, “The main defaulters here are political parties.” He said that the political banners put up by the parties are a serious threat to the public safety as they cause many accidents. He added that unless the guidelines are strictly implemented, the problem will not be solved.