While branding the ongoing drive to remove hoardings and billboards from the major roads and streets an extreme step, Mirpur District Advertising Association has resisted the move.
The association has threatened to take to the streets over what they dubbed an attack on the local advertisement sector through an unwarranted and uncalled-for drive by the district administration.
In a news conference at Kashmir Press Club here on Monday, the association’s president Makhdoom Alam alleged that by removing the hoardings the administration has left a large number of people connected to the profession jobless. Alam pointed out that following the campaign, the local advertisement sector incurred a loss of over Rs15 million during the last few months. “We cannot remain mum over this highhandedness on the part of local administration,” he stated.
He added that the Mirpur Municipal Corporation and District Council had recently awarded contracts of Rs7million and Rs2.2million respectively, allowing them to install the hoardings.
Alam said that six mega panaflex printing machines worth millions of rupees installed in different parts of the district will go to waste as a result of the drive.
The drive has been initiated even though the same sector contributes millions of rupees to the national exchequer in the form of taxes, he added.
Alam alleged that the local police not only removed the hoardings but also had them broken and later stolen in form of scrap for meagre financial gains. He demanded of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Prime Minister to take notice of the situation and issue directions to the local administration to put an end to the campaign. This, he observed, was crucial to save those in the advertisement sector from impending unemployment. At the same time, he warned that the advertising community will be forced to take to the streets if the government did not fulfil their demands.
“The district administration ordered removal of encroachments in shape of unlawful mega signboards and hoardings from various city streets to avert any threat to human life during windstorms,” said an official of the administration. He said the action has been taken under Prohibition of Wall Chalking and affixing of Hoardings Act.
“The drive to remove the signboards was launched in view of the increased danger to life and property as a result of installation of big signboards and hoardings along the major roads and streets during speedy windstorm. Besides, it’s meant to discourage the spread of certain objectionable content on such hoardings,” said the official.
Moreover, he warned that punitive action will be taken against those defying the law by installing such hoardings in the future.
When asked to comment on the allegations levelled against Mangla Police, a senior police officer denied the charges, saying that the police followed the orders of the local administration.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2012.
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