Whenever it is celebration time, arterial roads in the city are awash with cut-outs, welcome arches and flex board hoardings. Public walls are painted with greetings in choicest epithets showering encomiums on the leaders. When it comes to political parties, there is hardly any exception.
Last week, Madurai roads witnessed an overflowing love and affection for the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) organising secretary for southern districts, M. K. Alagiri. It was indeed a taste of how revered he was for the hoi polloi. But what causes concern is the risk involved in putting up arches, hoardings and illuminations on public thoroughfares. Visibility of the roads at many intersections gets blocked, public say. Two days prior to the birthday celebrations of Mr. Alagiri on Saturday, a welcome arch put up across the Alagarkoil Road suddenly fell atop an autorickshaw causing some tense moments for the police and onlookers. Though the autorickshaw driver escaped unhurt, the vehicle’s roof got damaged.
Last year, an old man was fatally knocked down by a huge hoarding that fell on New Natham Road, public recall.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) district secretary R. Annadurai said, “We are not opposed to celebrating birthdays or conducting other functions by political parties and other organisations. We’ll appreciate if they are done as per the law. The Corporation authorities should spell out whether they’ve given permission for putting up so many hoardings in the city on January 30.”
Another Communist functionary said that the Corporation had not responded to queries raised by their councillors in this regard. Democratic forces should come together and oppose any act that caused hindrance to the common man, he said.
A senior DMK leader said that some political opponents alone raised a hue and cry over the issue. “What is wrong in celebrating our leader’s birthday? Our leader is opposed to any action that will inconvenience the public. But he agreed to a majority of the functionaries’ request for the celebration on the assurance that they would not pose problems to the public.”
Some residents suggested that public events such as birthday celebration of leaders could be held at a place earmarked on the outskirts of the city. People wonder, after all these celebrations how such a huge volume of polymer materials used in the decorations would be disposed of. This year, the flex boards did not show any sign of wear and tear as an additional nylon material was added to strengthen them —ironically, compounding the problem of disposal.