News : No ‘Sign’ of Complaints
Nov 14, 2014 -- Pushed by a Bombay High Court order in August, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), set up a call centre on October 16 to take citizens' complaints on spotting blemishes in the city's skyline. Having set up the centre, officials are complaining that in the month that has gone by, only 28 complaints have come, never mind that they have not been able to resolve all of them.
"Activists and other citizens have been crying themselves hoarse over illegal hoardings dotting the cityscape, blaming political parties and the civic body. So, we imagined once the call centre was opened, complaints would come pouring in. But this has not happened. We have already attended to 22 of the 28 complaints that have come in," said a PMC official, on condition of anonymity.
But Vijay Dahibhate, head of the sky sign department, claimed, "We took out a continuous drive against illegal hoardings since court orders came. Perhaps that is why less complaints have been registered."
In August, on the back of the HC asking civic bodies in the state to invoke the old Maharashtra Prevention of Defacement of Property (MPDP) Act to go after people behind illegal hoardings, Mirror had reported how the civic body had quit filing police complaints since November 2013.
Now sky sign department officials say they have removed around 1.2 lakh hoardings, flex boards, banners and posters since March 2013, including 455 hoardings since February 23 this year. Yet, 1,376 identified illegal hoardings still loom around different parts of the city.
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Department officials feel the promise of anonymity will draw more responses from people. Interestingly, most complaints (19 to be precise) have come as SMSes, while three came over email; only five were registered on the toll-free number.
"This just reflects the lack of trust people repose in civic officials. They are not buying into the promise of confidentiality. Plus, the aggressive ways of people behind illegal hoardings are well recorded," pointed out civic activist Vijay Kumbhar.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Pune Municipal Corporation:
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) was established on 15 February 1950. The PMC controls the whole administration of Pune. The executive power of the corporation is vested in the Municipal Commissioner, an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer appointed by the Maharashtra state government. The corporation consists of directly elected corporators headed by a Mayor. The mayor has few executive powers.
Published: Monday, November 17, 2014
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