The civic body removed over 4,000 structures including scaffoldings following a ban in 2009, Later, when the civic body let down its guard, posters reappeared and last year too, another ban on wall posters was announced. This would be an effort to beautify the city but nothing has happened in that direction so far

Two years ago, Chennai's walls were definitely cleaner spaces. Neat, plain walls made walking on the mostly-broken footpaths an easier process — there were no distractions in the form of film posters, notices promising fantastic cures for diseases and politicians celebrating birthdays.

There may be announcements that citizens want to know. But does every single wall including the temporary barricades of Metro Rail, electric and telephone junction boxes, need to be plastered from head to foot with posters?

The Chennai Corporation banned wall posters and graffiti on four major roads — Tiruvottiyur High Road, Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Anna Salai and Kamarajar Road — in 2009. It also banned posters and graffiti on 250 subways and flyovers in August 2009 and in 3,464 of its buildings including schools, abattoirs, noon meal centres, dispensaries and gymnasiums, in November 2009.

From June, that year, the city started looking cleaner. The drive was followed by a ban on illegal hoardings. The civic body removed over 4,000 structures including scaffoldings. With this, the city's landmarks looked cleaner. They were given a fresh coat of paint and when properly lit, the city looked brighter. Compound walls of government buildings and subways were decorated with paintings too.

Though there was opposition from those who printed posters and painted walls and from political parties for taking away their “right” to paste posters and paint graffiti, the civic body took them in its stride and went ahead with the ban. They were told that the district collector would select locations from across where posters could be put up. Other cities have such spaces. Those who violated the ban, few in number, were charged with cases and asked to remove the posters.

Later, when the civic body let down its guard, posters reappeared. Last year too, another ban on wall posters was announced. This would be an effort to beautify the city. But nothing has happened in that direction so far.

Over the last two years, the Chennai Corporation made good efforts to put up world class reflective signages all over the city. But these too have not been spared and in some places like West Mambalam, posters have been pasted on the signages. Is it not the civic body's responsibility to regulate such promotional material under the CCMC Act of 1919.

Every time there is a civic election, the Chennai Corporation, takes it upon itself to remove posters and then get political parties to repaint the walls that have been defaced by their advertising material. Everything stays spic and span for about three months and after that the demons are back with their sycophancy. Now, do we have to wait until the next elections to see clean walls?

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Deepa H. RamakrishnanJune 28, 2012

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