Question of legality: Ad association objects to municipality tearing down billboards

Says they pay annual fee to Mingora for permission.

Signboards torn down in Mingora. PHOTOS: FAZAL KHALIQ/EXPRESS

MINGORA: The advertisement association in Swat has objected to damage done to their billboards and hoardings by the administration in Mingora.

“We have a legal contract of one year with the Tehsil Municipal Administration to put up billboards in Mingora,” said the president of the association, Murad Khan, at a news conference at Swat Press Club on Tuesday. “Much to our surprise, the officials of TMA removed and damaged all the signboards, claiming they were illegal.”

Khan added they regularly paid fees to put up the signage but the recent damage by the administration caused them a loss of more than Rs3 million.

“This is strange considering TMA officials do not even touch the boards put up by workers of political parties.” There are people whose livelihoods depend on these boards, said Khan.

“Just to put up billboards on roads from Landakey to Kalam, we pay over Rs6 million annually to the district administration,” said Javed Iqbal, the chairman of the association. “We legally take permission from TMA for each spot where we install signs.”

Iqbal added they have proof of contracts and receipts of payments made to the administration.

The association members demanded the government address their issue and not only compensate for their losses but also replace their boards. Otherwise they said they will protest against the local administration and the government.

When Chief Municipal Officer Hayat Shah was contacted, he said a formal no objection certification is obtained for each signboard. “Presently, the advertisers have only contacted the contractors from the administration but have not obtained an NoC from us,” he told The Express Tribune.

They should submit an application for NoCs, added Shah, after which a survey of the area would be conducted and then permission would be granted.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 6th, 2015.


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