Lokayukta takes serious view of commercialisation of FOBs by GHMC after a petitioner complains about lack of safety for women on the structures

The Lokayukta of Andhra Pradesh directed the Commissioner of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) to remove advertisement boards on foot over bridges (FOBs), asserting that they were causing insecurity among women.

The directions by Lokayukta Justice B. Subhashan Reddy were issued while dealing with a complaint filed by one Kanthimathi, president of Right to Walk Foundation, on Saturday.

The two officers were also told to file compliance report by August 22.

In her complaint lodged with the Lokayukta, in which she furnished photographs of several FOBs covered with advertisement boards, Ms. Kanthimathi explained that the advertisement boards put up on the sides of FOBs blocked the view completely, compromising the safety of the users, particularly women, when passing through alone in the absence of proper lighting.

The Lokayukta observed that photographs submitted by the petitioner had made it clear that even FOBs were not spared by the GHMC for business purposes.

The advertisement boards were defeating the very purpose of setting up FOBs for the safety of pedestrians as they were blocking the view completely.

The petitioner also complained that works which were promised to be completed for restoration of footpaths were not done by GHMC. In the reports filed by GHMC Commissioner, it was stated that all works were being attended to and some of them were completed and some others were in progress. The Traffic ACP also filed a report.

Footpaths disappear

In his observation, the Lokayukta said footpaths used to provide safety to pedestrians but over a period of time most of them in Hyderabad had disappeared due to encroachments or road-widening. The road-widening did not mean that footpaths were covered under it. If necessary, the government should make property acquisitions for maintaining proper footpaths, he felt.

The FOBs were constructed in order to alleviate the grievances of pedestrians while using and crossing roads. However, advertisement boards were making them unsafe too, the Lokayukta said. He also directed the GHMC officials to provide proper lighting in FOBs during night.

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