WB govt removes HRBC hoardings to get a better view

MUMBAI: KOLKATA: Power doesn’t imply license to do as you please, or does it?

Barely a month since the Mamata Banerjee government shifted office to the 14-storeyed Hooghly River Bridge Commissionerates Building on the west bank of the river Hooghly, the administration has started removing the over 75 to 100 hoardings on site just to facilitate a better view of the surroundings.

Advertising companies which had bought the hoarding space for a good three to five years are distressed with the state government’s decision which has forced them to look for alternative sites to get mileage.

West Bengal Outdoor Advertising Association treasurer and grievance committee convener Ashif Kumar Biswas told “Brands present in Avani Mall, building material companies like cement, rods, preferred these sites as Konna Expressway is under construction. Moreover, since this is the gateway to Kolkata, many brands would choose these hoardings.”

A government official meanwhile said the hoardings were cluttered and whenever officials looked out of the window for refreshment, they caused a barrier. With the 18th century ‘Writers’ Building’ having been vacated for restoration and renovation, West Bengal chief minister Banerjee and team will have to work out of the Hooghly River Bridge Commissionerates building for quite some time. Unlike her previous office that was located on the first floor of ‘Writers’ Building’, Banerjee’s new office is on the Commissionerates building’s top floor.

With advertisers having paid top tax to Howrah and HRBC authorities for hoarding space, “The state government is likely to lose around Rs 50 lakh per annum,” said Biswas, adding that the hoardings are huge in size measuring around 40x40 or 40x20 feet. “We have requested the state government to regularise them, instead of removing the hoardings altogether,” he said.

It is learnt one of the advertisers, a small media agency, bid for two sites after taking an advance from an FMCG company, which selected the hoardings for their winter campaign. Other advertisers said the decision to remove the hoardings at one go reflects on the lack of policy of the present government.

Biwas however is hopeful the state government will sooner look into the matter. He even hinted that authorities are happy with smaller hoardings and that the association is ready to come to terms with them.

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