A survey will be carried out across Salt Lake, places off VIP Road and parts of Rajarhat to identify illegal billboards, an official of Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation said.
The recently passed budget of the civic body has set a target to mop up around Rs 65 lakh in revenue from outdoor advertisements.
“For any civic body, outdoor advertisement is one of the main sources of revenue,” said an official of the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation. “For us, however, the income from billboards has been abysmally low.”
“We want to maximise revenue earnings from billboards. Advertising agencies are earning huge sums from hoardings, whereas the civic body is only earning peanuts by way of advertisement tax,” said Krishna Chakraborty, mayor of the municipal corporation.
“VIP Road and Salt Lake are high visibility areas but our revenue from the billboards from these places has been low. We want to change this.”
Once the survey is over, notices will be sent to the billboard owners who have not been paying tax, asking them to clear their dues within a certain period.
If the civic body still doesn’t receive the dues, teams will be sent to pull the billboards down, a senior civic official said.
The corporation comprises 41 wards, including areas such as Salt Lake, Kaikhali, Baguiati, Teghoria and parts of Rajarhat, which lie northeast of Kolkata.
The official said the survey to be launched by the municipal corporation would identify the exact number of billboards displaying advertisements but are not paying any taxes to the civic authorities.
“Basically, any billboard or flex that is let out to advertisers is illegal unless the corporation gets a tax for it. We want to identify such illegal billboards first,” the official said.
According to rough estimates, there are more than 300 large billboards along both flanks of VIP Road. There are more than 150 such billboards in different places of Salt Lake.
The count is more than 200, according to civic estimates, in places that were under the erstwhile Rajarhat-Gopalpur Municipality and are now looked after by the Bidhannagar civic body.
“Of these, the corporation has been getting taxes for only a handful of the billboards. For the rest, though they have been let out to advertisers, we get nothing,” the official said.
Before Salt Lake and Rajarhat-Gopalpur were clubbed and brought under the Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation in 2015, the tax levied on billboards varied greatly between the two places.
The erstwhile Rajarhat-Gopalpur Municipality used to charge Rs 65 per square feet per month, whereas the erstwhile Salt Lake Municipality charged between Rs 200 and 400.
After the Bidhannagar corporation came into being, the rate was hiked to Rs 450 per square feet per month.
The newly formed Trinamul Congress board has not hiked the rate but is focussing on maximising collections from billboards.