Despite a 2008 Supreme Court ban, several billboards have come up

After a lull of more than three years, several hoardings have quietly started reappearing in various parts of the city. These are proper structures with iron scaffoldings and not hurriedly put up political banners on wooden frames.

In April 2008, the Supreme Court had upheld the Madras High Court's order, banning illegal and hazardous hoardings in Tamil Nadu. Following this, the Chennai Collectorate directed the Chennai Corporation to remove over 4,100 hoardings classified as illegal. When contacted, sources in the Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chennai collectorates said that no application for installing hoardings in these districts had been received or permission granted in the last few years.

The district administration, however, grants permission to temporarily set up small hoardings for a few days after the agency concerned obtains a ‘no objection' certificate from landowning agencies such as Chennai Corporation.

If any agency wants to set up a hoarding temporarily, they approach the section concerned in the district Collectorate, 15 days in advance, with a request in the prescribed format with a ‘no objection' certificate.

On Rajiv Gandhi Salai, 11 hoardings are clearly visible. There are six on East Coast Road, two near the Padi grade separator and one near a school near the Kotturpuram flyover.

A.G. Nayakam, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Outdoor Advertising Association said: “District Collectors have not called for any applications to set up hoardings. If any hoardings have come up, they are illegal. We have 80 members in the association but many have now left the trade. I had 150 legal hoardings in the city, but none now. However, the Railways and the Tamil Nadu Road Development Company do have hoardings,” he said.

“According to Act No. 51 issued by the Municipal Administration Department, hoardings cannot be placed near schools, colleges, hospitals, at road junctions, or heritage structures. With such stringent conditions, no hoardings can come up anywhere. All other States permit hoardings in a controlled manner,” he added.

Sources in the Railways said that a number of hoardings have been removed by the Chennai Corporation from the Central and Egmore Railway Stations previously.

The Chennai Corporation has asked all zonal officials to initiate action on unauthorised hoardings in the city. A few zonal officials of the Chennai Corporation started removing hoardings from roads such as Nungambakkam High Road and Cathedral Road on Monday.

Many hoardings on illegal bus shelters were also removed by Chennai Corporation officials.

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