Bhubaneswar: The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started turning the heat on businessmen for evading tax and cluttering the city skyline with illegal hoardings.
The corporation pulled down five giant unauthorised hoardings from different places in the city in the past two days. Besides, at least Rs 40,000 was collected from shops that have been evading license fee for putting up hoardings over their establishments.
“The drive will continue till the skyline is cleared of illegal hoardings and banners,” said BMC commissioner Sanjib Kumar Mishra. “Notices have also been served to several advertising agencies, which have not cleared their dues. We are incurring losses worth lakhs of rupees due to illegal hoardings,” Mishra said.
The BMC had generated nearly Rs 10,850,000 revenue from trade licences and advertisements in 2011-12. It has collected around Rs 5 crore so far in 2012-13. The civic body has permitted around 40 advertising agencies to install hoardings on private land. Besides, Team Ad Mark, an advertising agency has been allowed advertisement right over government land in BMC area for three years for a bid amount of Rs 5.40 crore with 20% enhancement every year. The agency has been asked to pay Rs 45 lakh per month in the first year, Rs 54 lakh and Rs 64.8 lakh in the second and third year respectively.
“Since the BMC collects money for billboards as per size, some corrupt BMC officials are helping illegal advertising agencies to conceal the size of the hoardings to evade fees,” said a corporator.
The BMC, which has no full proof record of the number of authorized hoardings in the city, is in the process of creating a database of the same. The computerized compilation will record the details of hoardings and their agencies. The size of the hoardings and their locations will also be recorded.
There is also a proposal to take the help of GIS (geographic information system) to control hoarding management in the city. “We can monitor through images captured by satellites so that advertising agencies do not cheat us. Photographs generated through high-resolution satellite images will be fed into computers to know the exact size and location of the hoardings. After the images are obtained, we can do physical inspection to compare the data,” said another BMC officer.
According to sources, there are much more hoardings in the city than the corporation had approved. Though BMC has declared major thoroughfares near Raj Bhawan, AG Square, Rabindra Mandap, 120 Battalion, Master Canteen and PMG square as ”no hoarding zones”, billboards continue to come up at these places.