Figuring out the Disfigurement


Posters, paintings, flex and hoardings continue to exist around the city despite a law to prevent the disfiguring of open places.

Surbhi Shah

Hoardings and flex banners remain in place in several parts of the city despite the ban on them by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagar Palike (BBMP).

The BBMP had banned all outdoor advertisement in August 2018 for causing ‘visual pollution’ and disfigurement of the city.

The Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981 states that putting up advertisements in public places  without the permission of the authority is a cognizable offence. Mr. Srinivasan, Assistant Revenue Officer, BBMP, said, “For first-time offenders, there is a maximum fine of Rs, 1,000 and then a jail term of six months.”

That has not deterred people from continuing to advertise. A shop owner at Vijaynagar said, “I have put out the flex hoarding for days now. I didn’t know that I was supposed to take permission to do it. Never heard of the Act.”

Though there are advertisements in public spaces, few advertisers have permission. Mr. Srinivasan added, “For the past three years, no one has taken permission for putting up  posters and advertisements across the city, except the big commercial hoardings.”

Mamta Kumari, in-charge of the advertisement department, BBMP, said, “We are currently permitting advertisements on skywalks, bus shelters, etc and no commercial hoardings. We are not fining for posters as of now.” In 2018 in Bangalore, around 22,369 flexes were removed by the BBMP from eight zones of Bangalore. From this year, the task is handed over to all the Zonal Joint Commissioners to take necessary actions against the offenders.

[/media-credit] Number of flexes removed in Bengaluru zones

Advertisers are now looking for ways to circumvent the ban. Zakir Khan, founder of G.A. advertising solutions Pvt. Ltd. said, “After the flex ban, we had to find another alternative material for use. So, we are now using synthetic fabric as replacement for flex.”

Several residents are pleased with the ban. “We see movie posters pasted across the walls of Bangalore and work-from-home jobs posters stapled  on trees everywhere, even near the parks and the historical places. It destroys the whole look of the city,” said Deepak Menon, a resident of JP Nagar.

Swati Ramanathan, co-founder of Jana Urban Space Foundation said, “Advertisements put up in public places  ruin the beauty of the neighbourhood. As the government is planning on making the city a smart city, these advertisements should be regulated for creating a better urban image of the city.”