Installed at 150 locations for Rs 20L each, they were to generate revenue, but authorities have realised that they cannot be used to display ads

As a part of the Smart Cities Mission, digital signboards were hoisted in 150 location of the city, primarily to generate revenue. The Rs 30-crore project however has hit a roadblock with officers now realising that they cannot run commercial advertisements due to certain laws and consequently, have no means to recover the amount spent. Now, the authority concerned is looking at other recovery options.

It has been two years since these digital boards were installed in the city. They provided information about the initiatives launched under the mission. For long, they had planned on putting up commercial advertisements to generate revenue.

However, this idea proved to be full of snags since day 1. These boards met with criticism instantly from pedestrians, who saw it as a hindrance on the footpath. Then, they were also flayed for partially blocking the pre-existing advertisement hoardings. Calling them illegal, the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) also smashed several screens a few months ago.

During these events, the authorities concerned only kept on repeating the fact that they want to generate revenue through these boards. Currently, it only displays traffic rules and messages and it turns out that they will be only able to display these advertisements. A Pune Smart City Development Corporation (PSCDCL) official said that displaying commercial advertisement would flout the 2003 Advertisement By-law, which only allows social advertisements to be displayed.

“Now, we will not be able to generate revenue. So we are aiming at recovering the money needed for the maintenance. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) should have taken these factors into account before putting up the boards,” he said.

Rajendra Jagtap, chief executive officer of PSCDCL added, “We are talking to few government organisations to get the advertisements. We are trying to figure the way out.”