Thursday, December 3, 2015

Munirka Vihar’s elderly couple wages war on ugly posters

ON A MISSION The couple started a campaign in 2009 to remove posters that deface the walls of the city

NEW DELHI: Efforts to keep the country clean might have gained momentum only after the Modi government came into power in 2014, but Col (retd) Shivraj along with his wife Laxmi Kumar has been doing his bit to clean the cities for a long time now. The couple has been spearheading a campaign against posters that deface public walls since 2009. For their campaign — Poster Hatao — they have travelled to different cities to create awareness among people.
Col (retd) Shivraj along with his wife Laxmi Kumar has been doing his bit to clean the cities for a long time now.
Following their campaign, there has been a considerable dip in the use of posters in Delhi, Gurgaon Mumbai, and Chennai. The Munirka Vihar based couple also managed remarkable success in removing posters during Delhi assembly (2014), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation elections.
Despite all the hard work and efforts, they realized soon that awareness among the masses is still missing, especially in Delhi and despite the enactment of Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007, people continue to place posters on walls. The lack of willingness on the authorities’ part to spread awareness and take strict action against defaulters forced Shivraj to move court and file a PIL against the municipal corporations of Delhi in May 2015 for gross violation of Outdoor Advertisement Policy, 2007.
“The citizens are not aware of the fact that their act is illegal and that they are defacing the city. Even the authorities are not keen to spread awareness and fight against the issue,” said Shivraj, 82.
“The idea came all of sudden when my wife and I were enjoying tea at home one day and all of sudden it began to rain. Suddenly my wife took a piece of cloth and asked me to join her. I followed her without asking any question. She began to remove the posters on the walls in our lane. Soon I also realised that these posters all over the city are ruining its beauty. I directed the chowkidars in the colony to not allow anybody to paste any advertisements or posters,” said Shivraj, who was the president of Munirka Vihar RWA.
He later took up the matter with KS Mehra, the then MCD commissioner, who liked the idea and called the deputy commissioner, advertisement. A plan was drawn and a team was formed which included officials and residents to carry out the drive for removing posters. “It continued for some time, but the group realised that these posters were reappearing after sometime and despite the presence of Delhi Defacement Act, 2007 no action was taken,” added Laxmi Kumar.
“We asked the police to take action against defaulters, but they didn’t show any interest while MCD expressed their helplessness to do the job. Finally, we wrote to the former LG and to fix a meeting with him to request him to issue necessary instructions to Delhi Police and Municipal Corporation in this regard. But we didn’t get an appointment. About two months back we wrote to Najeeb Jung for the meeting,” she said.
Eventually, Shivraj filed a PIL and the court gave directions for necessary action else the commercial officers (advertisement) of each municipal corporation would be held responsible.
As per the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007, “Sticking of posters, banners, wall-writings on the properties in public view, is a violation of the provisions of Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, 2007 (which has come into force w.e.f. 01.03.2009) and is a cognisable offence. The penalty under this act is up to Rs 50,000, or jail up to one year or both,” shared Shadan Farasat, advocate.

Col Shivraj
Munirka Vihar Welfare Association
With thanks : Hindustan Times : South Delhi Section : LINK

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