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City walls stand defaced, municipality waits to ‘find a violation’

Srinagar, Nov 28: Defacement of public and private property is rampant across the city in violation of the rules.
Busy doing promotions ahead of the new academic session, the coaching centers have been putting their posters on the walls, lampposts, and bridges, giving them a shabby look.
Hoardings, from all possible business houses, can be seen erected on electricity poles, while fences have advertisements painted on them, questioning the role of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) in keeping the city clean.
For instance, most of the road and traffic signboards around Jawahar Nagar here, a hub of tuition centers, are covered with posters.
The Lal Mandi footbridge is dotted with advertisements, and banners.
The fences of the Children’s Park and Lal Ded maternity hospital in the vicinity are no exceptions.
This reporter visited various areas like Bar Bar Shah and Karan Nagar in old city and uptown’s Baghat, Barzulla, Parraypora, and Natipora. The scene everywhere is similar.
In fact, the under-construction Rambagh-Lalchowk flyover has not been spared.
Bashir Ahmad, who was crossing the Lal Mandi footbridge, said, “It is not that the officials concerned are not aware of this practice, as they also travel on the same roads. But they prefer to turn a blind eye.”
A shopkeeper on the Bund said, “I feel the big shot owners of these so-called private institutions are hand in glove with the officers. And, if the authorities seriously want to stop this malpractice, they need to take serious action against the violators.”
Jammu and Kashmir Prevention of Defacement of Property Act 1985 calls for “strict punishment” against the person found defacing the government property.
According to the law, “whosoever defaces any property in public view by writing or marking with ink, chalk, paint or any other material shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees or with both”.
Commissioner SMC, Peer Hafizullah, said, “We have outsourced the hoardings recently. However, I don’t know the procedure regarding defacement of properties by posters and banners. If we find a violation, we will take appropriate action.”
He shifted the responsibility onto the city residents, saying, “The people of the city also have a role to play”.