LAW &ORDER It is difficult to distinguish between genuine and bogus signboards as both carry police logos, writes G. Anand

A section of traders are putting up `traffic police' signboards on their own at several key points in the city. The unauthorised signboards, which carry advertisements of textile and jewellery shops, are used mainly for preventing parking of vehicles in front of hotels and other private establishments.

It is difficult to distinguish between genuine traffic signboards and the bogus ones as both carry city traffic police logos, a residents' association office-bearer said. He alleged that certain corrupt officials in the traffic police and some advertisement firms were benefiting from the racket.

Bogus traffic signboards are plenty along the left side of the Palayam Juma Masjid-Pattom Thanu Pillai Square road. The boards are meant to discourage shoppers bound for the Palayam market and the faithful arriving for prayers at the mosque from parking their vehicles along the recently widened stretch.

Assistant Commissioner J. Wilfred said many traffic signboards along the stretch were unauthorised. He said the traders had promised to remove the illegal boards once the work on the pavement was over. The police lacked funds to erect traffic signboards and had to rely on private sponsorship, he added.

In another telling case, a private medical practitioner at Pattom has put up a `police signboard' prohibiting parking, except for his clients, on the road in front of his house.

At Vazhuthacaud, a private agency has put up advertisement boards on the traffic median. The boards are proving to be an impediment for pedestrians, particularly the students of Government Women's College. The students have to move in between the boards to cross the road. The boards were also proving to be a `visual' block for motorists, who often see pedestrians crossing the busy road only at the last moment.

Mr. Wilfred said the boards were put up with the approval of the Municipal Corporation and the Public Works Department (PWD). The police had given a `no-objection certificate subject to approval of the PWD and the City Corporation' to the advertisement agency, he said.