Kathmandu Metropolitan City intensifies campaign to remove hoarding boards from cityThe city office has taken down 1,142 small advertisements and removed 25 billboards so far, officials say.
After widespread criticism in media and a contempt of court filed against the officials of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and four government ministers for the failing to enforce the 2015 Supreme Court ruling to clear illegal hoarding from the Capital, the city office has finally paid heed to the court’s order.
The KMC has intensified its work to clear illegal hoarding boards and advertisements from the Capital streets.
As of Sunday, the city authority had cleared 1,142 small advertisements and 25 large billboards from different road sections of Kathmandu.
Knowing the city's sluggish work in removing hoarding boards and the writ filed against it for contempt of court, Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had last week instructed the concerned authorities to promptly clear all illegal hoarding boards polluting the city.
However, many people suspect if the city office will continue the drive.
“The area looks quite clean now. This is a good move, but earlier too the city used to remove those boards. I doubt if the city can give continuity to this drive,” said Indra Bahadur Karki, 65, a retired Nepal Army colonel and a frequent visitor of Thapathali Park Chess Club.
After Padam Bahadur Shrestha, a senior advocate filed a contempt of the court against government authorities in late November for their failure to implement the court’s ruling, the city had published a notice to clear all hoarding boards across Kathmandu within a week.
Shrestha had filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court in 2015, appealing to clear the visual pollutants, but none of the authorities had shown any interest.
He still does not seem convinced by the city's work. “Look at those advertisements on the utility poles. The city has not removed them.”
When the Post contacted Dhanapati Sapkota, head of the city police, he blamed the Nepal Electricity Authority.
“We will clean all such hoarding boards that are polluting the city within a week or two. But Nepal Electricity Authority had given the permission to advertise on the boxes of solar lamps,” said Sapkota.
Even though the country inaugurated Visit Year 2020 on January 1, aiming to bring two million foreign tourists in the country this calendar year, billboard advertisements in the Capital and roads cluttered with pamphlets, movie posters and banners are an eyesore.
Sapkota said the city has deployed its officials under city inspectors in four different directions to clean out the hoarding boards. “ We have cleared all the hoarding boards from the airport, Tinkune and New Baneshwor. We have mobilised our city police all across the city,” said Sapkota.
The city has hired Singapore trained persons to remove the big billboards from houses and roadsides. “Because it’s risky to remove them, we needed trained persons because one has to climb tall buildings to remove them,” said Prakash Pandit, a city police sub-inspector, who was involved in removing billboards in Thapathali on Sunday.
Although the city has finally escalated its work to remove billboards, banners and pamphlets, it has shown indifference to the increasing number of digital displays on roads such as in Tripureshwor, Kathmandu Mall and Durbarmarg.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s policy of 2013 to regulate advertising materials and hoarding boards gave permission to run displays on LCD boards.
“These are also city polluters. The big LCD displays can cause accidents. The city should amend its policy,” said Shrestha.