THERE are many instances of government agencies violating laws. Once such gross violation in example is the display of banners, festoons and posters by different state-owned organisations in the capital Dhaka. A photograph that New Age published on Wednesday shows how large hoardings put up by the ministry of railway obstructs views of greenery in the city. These temporary structures are erected to advertise the success of the government, flouting legal restrictions outlined in the Graffiti and Flyposting (Control) Act 2012. While in the case of illegal hoarding, the Dhaka South City Corporation is blaming various ministries for obstructing people’s view of the greenery, on other occasions, the city corporation itself has shown disregard for regulations related to the management of open space. In many cases, city authorities are found to have set up structures, compromising the main recreational goal of public spaces. In violation of contracts, the city authorities have allowed Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority to install pumps inside Nayatola Children’s Park and turn a park at Karwanbazar beside the DNCC zone 5 office as their garbage truck depot. Such pervasive violation of laws by ministries and city offices that are mandated to make Dhaka liveable are deeply disconcerting.
Officials of both the city corporations of Dhaka blamed ministries, divisions and their affiliated agencies for putting up banners in city areas on various occasions, many of them making publicity of the ruling party. The large banner displayed in front of Railway Bhaban corroborates the claims of the city officials as the banner carries messages identical to the Awami League’s party posters. The display on large hoardings by government offices flouting related restrictions is, therefore, not only concern of visual pollution as suggested by many town planners and experts but it also raises questions about the way the political party in power uses government apparatus for its party propaganda. Recently, emphasising the matter of visual pollution, obstruction of citizens’ access to greenery that is, officials of the city authorities urged ministries and other government agencies to cooperate in their drive to remove illegal hoardings, banners and festoons. Their attempt to actively involve other offices in this drive is welcome. It should also ensure that city authorities themselves are not in breach of any regulations related to the management of public space.
This uncontrolled display of large banners and hoardings in the city is a multifaceted problem and requires a multi-pronged response. The city corporations must immediately address the issue of visual pollution by removing illegal structures. The act in question, however, needs to be reviewed and amended to stop the use of government machinery for party propaganda. Finally, the government must form a committee to address the issue of widespread tendency to violate laws and regulation prevalent within the government and elected offices. It cannot prevent the problem of illegal hoardings in the city if government offices continue to violate the regulations.
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