Temporary hoardings targeting Puja shoppers put up before October 1 will not be exempt from tax, the Calcutta Municipal Corporation’s mayoral council member in charge of parks and squares said on Monday.
On Monday, Debashis Kumar, the mayoral council member, said: “All hoardings put up before October 1 will need to pay tax to the CMC.”
He was speaking at a Puja preparedness meeting held with police, CMC officials and officials of several state and central government departments.
“The chief minister said there will be no tax on Pujo’r bigyapon (advertisements for Puja). We will extend the sop only if the advertisements are put up in the month of Puja (October). Mahalaya is on October 14, which means the advertisements will be there for nearly three weeks before Puja without paying tax even if we offer the benefit from October 1,” Kumar later told Metro.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that advertisements for Puja should be exempt from paying tax.
Many Calcuttans complained that advertising agencies have used this opportunity and put up banners several weeks before Puja.
Earlier, the temporary hoardings used to appear two or three weeks before Puja but this year they have made an appearance almost a month and a half before Puja.
There are still 33 days left for Mahalaya and 39 days left for Sashthi, but Rashbehari Avenue in south Calcutta is filled with such hoardings.
Metro reported on Sunday that dozens of temporary hoardings, often one above the other, have sprung up along Rashbehari Avenue.
Bamboo scaffoldings have been set up in several other places and the banners on them will be up soon.
An online petition is demanding that the CMC frame guidelines on where and how these temporary hoardings can be installed.
The petition said that the hoardings blocked the air passage to the buildings behind them and could pose a hindrance to firefighters in case of an accident.
The CMC’s decision to tax outdoor advertising agencies can have far-reaching implications if neighbouring municipal bodies in Bidhannagar and Howrah also stand firm. Hoardings are put up in large numbers in these places and in other urban areas in districts neighbouring Calcutta.
On Monday, Kumar urged civic officials and the police to pull down all hoardings or bamboo scaffoldings that have been erected using trees.
“I have seen that many scaffoldings have been erected by tying the bamboo with trees. This cannot be done,” he said.
The rate at which outdoor advertising agencies have to pay the CMC for temporary hoardings is Rs 15/sq ft, said an official of the CMC. Temporary hoardings can be between 6sq ft and 24sq ft in
“Only two agencies have approached us and paid the fees. Most of the hoardings have been put up without our permission and they are illegal. We will now start identifying the agencies and ask them to pay,” said the CMC official.
Any agency found to have installed a hoarding illegally can be asked to pay three times the actual fee as penalty, besides the fee itself, the official said.
The online petition from Calcuttans, which has garnered over 2,500 signatures, has also demanded that the civic body frame guidelines on how these hoardings should be disposed of after they are removed once the festival is over.