MCC HELP ! Mysuru is turning into Flex City
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MCC HELP ! Mysuru is turning into Flex City

January 13, 2024

Mysuru has been called a Royal Heritage City, but it feels like we’re living in ‘Flex City.’ Our city is plagued by the menace of flex hoardings and banners everywhere — at Circles, on buildings, on footpaths, on trees and even on Expressway. Last year, this plague had even reached all the way to the top of Chamundi Hill!

In March last year, the ‘muhurat’ of a Kannada movie was held atop Chamundi Hill. To mark the occasion, the movie’s flex posters were stuck all along the road, all the way to the top of the Hill. An ugly sight indeed. No action was taken against the producers by the MCC.

Flex menace in Karnataka is so pervasive that in 2019, an artist named Ravikumar Kashi wrote a book titled ‘Flexing Muscles’ about the flex culture, especially in Bengaluru. We have the same in Mysuru too.

Every year, the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) tells us that they will rescue our city from the menace of flex banners and posters. The MCC once  even had the audacity to declare Mysuru as being ‘flex-free’ !

They then declared that they would ‘fine’ flex ban violators. But then the MCC and District Administration doesn’t have enough muscle to flex against flex banners. Why so cynical, one may ask. How can one not be? Considering that this farce of making the city flex-free is played out every year?

In August 2014, the Urban Development Ministry announced that it will fine ‘heavily’ those who erect unauthorised cut-outs, banners or hoardings! What happened? Nothing.

In 2006, the MCC proposed to declare K.R. Circle, Gandhi Square to Chamaraja Circle, Five-Lights Circle, Ramaswamy Circle, Ashoka Road, Irwin Road and Sayyaji Rao Road as ‘hoarding-free’ zones and ban commercial hoardings within 100 metres of heritage sites. What happened? Hoardings and banners are still around.

In 2009, MCC started an ‘illegal hoarding drive’ to which some people protested and the drive                    was stopped.

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In 2011, MCC Council passed a resolution banning hoardings in the core heritage areas with the then MCC Commissioner K.S. Raikar saying, “We held discussions with the City Police Commissioner, who has agreed to file cases against those violating the MCC directive on advertising hoardings and flex boards.” What happened? Nothing.

Just the day before yesterday, the MCC Commissioner said that they have issued notices and asked the Zonal Commissioners to clear out the flex… but flex remains!

The penalty for unauthorised disfigurement by advertisement as per The Karnataka Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act, 1981 makes unauthorised advertisement in public space punishable with imprisonment and fine. Has the MCC booked anyone of significance till date? No. That is why it has not stopped.

This ineffective drive by authorities has emboldened many and now our Circles and trees are not safe.

Circles in Mysuru have been turned into mediaeval town centres; where all announcements, be it death, election or festivals are announced with huge flex posters.

Most flex banners are also visual pollution, especially political hoardings. They are huge, with the ‘senior’ politician at the centre of the poster and his chamchas grinning from his stomach, chest and forehead. 

Our leaders can stop this but they don’t, they love it. Even the most educated politicians don’t stop this.

A few years ago, Prof. Rajeev Gowda, the Congress MP, who graduated from the prestigious IIM (Indian Institute of Management) and who was working with a initiative to keep Bengaluru clean, called ‘Swalpa Clean-up Maadi,’ was caught off-guard when his own photo turned up on the city walls wishing him on his 50th birthday.

When he was asked about it, he nonchalantly said, “There are people who want to wish me on my birthday. But they cannot pay Rs. 1 lakh for a billboard. We need to have a facility that will help people advertise without affecting the aesthetics of the city.” Did he create such a facility? NO. We wonder why he couldn’t tell his followers to spend that money on a social cause instead of wasting it on posters wishing him.

Politicians cannot stop this menace because they love it. Politicians thrive and survive on public perception of them being powerful and these posters and defiance of the law is part of creating that perception.

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Finally, the Government itself becomes a violator of laws. They not only put up poorly designed and flimsy awareness flex posters but also stick their flex advertisements on hoardings that belong to private individuals!

This menace of illegal hoardings cannot be stopped with fines; it can be prevented only by a ‘tearing down drive’ – just tear the illegal flex posters down.

Like the Police have ‘Garuda’ cars and ‘Cheetah’ bikes for patrolling, MCC also can have a ‘Giraffe’ — a jeep with a long ladder, that patrols the city and tear down illegal banners.

Meanwhile, the Mysuru-Bengaluru Expressway also needs some rescuing from hoardings. There are just too many sprouting up. They have not only become quite a distraction but they also mar the beauty of the drive.

May be the Government can ban putting up tall and huge hoardings in the scenic parts of the Expressway so the tourists as they drive to Mysuru, can at least get to see the beauty of Ramanagar’s monoliths, after all they are Asia’s largest and the sight of green paddy fields is awe-inspiring. 

Right now, the Expressway is almost reflective of what to expect at the end of their journey ­— Mysuru the ‘Flex City’.

While our administration constantly talks about the beautification of our city, they encourage its ‘uglification’ by not implementing the law. Unless the MCC really flexes its muscles against flex, our city will become ‘Flex City.’  We also will never again become the Cleanest City in India.

Mysore will become an Eyesore.

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