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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Party posters hijack welcome gate

“Welcome to Jamshedpur.” Visitors accustomed to seeing this message on the 100-ft tall gate while entering the city from NH-33 can’t find it anymore.

The reason — in an utter violation of Prevention of Defacement of Property Act, huge banners and posters of political parties have completely masked the message on the entrance gate near Pardih Chowk that links NH-33 to Mango’s New Purulia Road.

The sole welcome signage — put up on a board of nearly 60ft by 10ft by the district administration — is over a decade old. But as of now, it resembles a huge notice board for political parties. Ajsu posters of their December 23 event are still plastered on, while coalition partner JMM has taken pains to wish citizens Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. Opposition Congress has not excluded any one, putting up Xmas, New Year and Tusu Parab (Makar Sankranti) greetings.

Political parties have not spared even the traffic police outpost situated adjacent to Pardih Chowk.

According to provisions of Bihar Prevention of Defacement of Property Act (1985), offenders will be liable for fine up to Rs 50,000 and imprisonment of up to six months.

But it is apparent that political parties are above the law.

That the district administration is a mute spectator to this civic menace is apparent as neither Mango Notified Area Committee (MNAC) nor East Singhbhum district administration owned up to being aware of the posters and banners despite their being there for weeks.

MNAC special officer Neeraj Srivastava cited ignorance about the defacement and said that he would look into it.

His senior, joint secretary in the state urban development department Nirmal Kumar Bhuiyan, was more forthcoming. “We know about such activities by political parties across the state. We have adopted Bihar Prevention of Defacement of Property Act (1985) since the creation of a separate state (2000). But it is a fact that the Act is enforced only during elections when code of conduct is made mandatory,” said the joint secretary.

Dhalbhum subdivisional officer Subodh Kumar said instructions would be issued to the local Azadnagar police station to remove the banners.

But even he did not issue a deadline.

“It is very unfortunate that the political parties have not spared the welcome gate to the city. Giant entrance gates are put up on city roads as a matter of routine, which hog road space and create traffic snarls. They also put up posters on all major thoroughfares and buildings. Authorities should prevent political parties from defacing public property at least,” said Shiv Pujan Singh (70) a senior functionary of Varisht Nagrik Manch and Mango resident.

Why do parties get away with defacement of public property?