DNCC mayor warns of legal action

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Annisul Huq yesterday said the authorities would take legal action against those who put up unauthorised billboards and posters in the capital.

“Don't force us to conduct drives along with magistrates. If you don't follow the rules, we will shut down your shops, file cases [against you] and cancel [your] trade licences,” he said at a press conference at the DNCC's new building at Gulshan-2.

As per rules, anyone putting up a billboard or a poster or any other such item in the city must take prior permission from the respective city corporation, he said.

The mayor also said over 20,000 billboards and 70,000 banners and festoons were removed from his city corporation area in the last 16 months.

On Thursday, the High Court asked the authorities concerned of the two city corporations to explain whether they have taken any step for removing unauthorised billboards, banners, posters and other publicity materials from Dhaka.

The court had also asked the authorities to report to it by August 22, explaining if they have employed magistrates to take necessary actions against those violating relevant laws.

The HC bench of Justice Md Rezaul Haque and Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar passed the order on August 14 following a petition by Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela).

The DNCC organised yesterday's press conference to talk about its actions taken over the issue.

“We've removed 200 banners and billboards from the city after the High Court order. We will continue removing the others,” Annisul said yesterday.

He said, “We've done a lot of tasks. Dhaka city is now almost free of billboards. Even after that every day we see new banners and festoons, and many of these are political.”

In the past, ruling Awami League directed its activists to avoid using photographs except those of Sheikh Hasina and Bangabandhu during any political publicity.

Referring to that, Annisul said the DNCC has a written copy of the direction. He also reminded everyone that no one could use his or her own photo in any billboard for political reasons.

He, however, said, “Political and government billboards will always remain there and the DNCC will always give permission for setting them up.”

Later, the mayor requested the councillors from his city corporation to take steps for the removal of illegal banners and billboards from their respective areas.

At that point, a reporter told him that many councillors themselves put up billboards and posters for their own publicity.

In reply, Annisul admitted the issue, and said “three to four” councillors are involved in the practice. He also requested them to stop doing that.

Expressing frustration over unauthorised banners and posters, he said, “We make footbridges and paint them so nicely. However, we see posters all over them the next morning. Don't you feel sorry? 

“While an organisation is trying to clean the city, you are putting up posters everywhere,” he said, addressing those who indulge in the illegal practice.

Billboards are also noticed on top of different local shops.

“Some companies try to publicise their brands on those billboards which is illegal,” he said. He also drew everyone's attention to the use of graffiti for doing personal publicity.

Later, the mayor urged all city dwellers to take permission before setting up billboards and posters in any city corporation areas.

Contacted, Chief Executive Officer of Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Khan Mohammad Bilal said they had been carrying out cleaning activities to remove unauthorised billboards and poster from the city corporation area.

The DSCC would publish an advertisement to raise public awareness about the issue, he told The Daily Star over phone.