A number of unauthorised billboards were pulled down on Wednesday in Salt Lake and several places along VIP Road by teams from the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation (BMC), officials of the civic body said.
Multiple teams from the civic body went across Salt Lake and along VIP Road with cutters to slash the illegal billboards. “We had conducted a survey to identify illegal billboards. Today was the first phase of the drive against them,” said an official of the BMC.
“Today, we slashed the facade of the hoardings and brought them down. Next, we will pull down iron structures identified as illegal.”
Another civic official said the survey had just revealed the tip of the iceberg as there are hundreds of unauthorised billboards across Salt Lake, Baguiati, Teghoria, Chinar Park and Rajarhat.
The BMC consists of 41 wards, including areas such as Salt Lake, Kaikhali, Baguiati, Teghoria and parts of Rajarhat. At least six billboards have been removed from the Karunamoyee crossing in Salt Lake, one of the busiest in the township, and four from in front of Central Park.
A couple of billboards have been taken down near GD Island. Along VIP Road, more than a dozen have been removed. According to rough estimates shared by BMC officials, there are more than 600 large billboards along both flanks of VIP Road. Salt Lake has more than 300 such billboards.
The count is more than 600 in places that were under the erstwhile Rajarhat-Gopalpur Municipality and are now looked after by the BMC. BMC officials said unauthorised hoardings did not bring them any revenue and they had no control over them.
“We want to maximise revenue earnings from billboards,” said mayor Krishna Chakraborty.
“Advertising agencies are earning huge sums from (illegal) hoardings, whereas the civic body is only earning peanuts by way of advertisement tax. We have started identifying illegal hoardings and are pulling them down. We will continue removing these hoardings and will also cut down the iron structures that have come up.”
What the mayor said suggested that the civic body was doing all this for money rather than for aesthetic reasons. Large chunks of Salt Lake are now hidden behind ugly structures supporting billboards.
Across Kolkata, hundreds of unauthorised hoardings hang along roads posing risks to pedestrians and motorists.