Urban Body Wakes up to Remove Illegal Hoardings

After losing substantial revenue on account of hoardings, Sambalpur Municipality has finally woken up from its slumber and initiated a drive to remove illegal hoardings. While 11 hoardings have been removed in last two days, the drive will continue till all the illegal hoardings are removed.

According to reports, contract for hoardings in the town was awarded to a firm in 2011-2012 fiscal at `2,85,745 and the contract expired on March 31, 2012. Subsequently, a tender was floated for 2012-2013 fiscal. While a firm from Rourkela quoted `45,20,000, an agency from Bhubaneswar quoted `21,10,000 and an agency from Sambalpur quoted `19,99,000. Although the tenders were opened on April 20 last year, the contract could not be finalised for reasons better known to the Municipality authorities which continues to sit over the issue incurring huge revenue loss.

In absence of any contractor, putting up hoardings under the Municipality’s jurisdiction has become free. Any one who wishes to use 84 frames in the town for advertising his products can do so without making any payment to the municipality.

According to sources, about 20 councillors including last vice-chairman Siddharth Saha had written in this regard to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department demanding a probe into the delay in finalising the tender. They cited huge loss of revenue to the Municipality on account of delay and demanded stern action against Municipal officials. But there has been no response from the department.

However, in a belated move, Executive Officer of the Municipality Aniruddha Pradhan has initiated steps to remove the illegal hoardings. “The drive has been launched from Jail Chowk area. All the illegal hoardings would be removed except those for which the fee has already been paid,” said Pradhan.

He said the Municipality has decided not to sublet the hoardings and will lease out the frames on its own by taking payment in advance. But, doubts have been raised on the decision in view of the Municipality’s lackadaisical attitude so far.

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