Flex boards, hoardings affecting traffic patently illegal, declares HC

Says death of engineer could have been well avoided

December 01, 2017 12:30 am | Updated 09:15 am IST - CHENNAI

 Celebrations cannot be at the expense of common people

Celebrations cannot be at the expense of common people

The Madras High Court on Thursday held as “patently illegal” the installation of publicity materials, such as flex boards, temporary arches, placards and banners with poles abutting public streets and pavements.

The court said such materials could not obstruct free and safe movement of traffic as well as pedestrians.

Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M. Sundar passed the order while disposing of a writ petition filed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) MLA N. Karthik, representing the Singanallur constituency, against erection of hoardings, banners, arches and flex boards in a dangerous manner across Coimbatore city for MGR birth centenary celebrations on Saturday. Concurring with the submissions of Senior Counsel P. Wilson, representing the PIL petitioner, the judges said: “There can be no doubt that the birth centenary of a former Chief Minister is an important occasion to celebrate. Programmes and functions might undoubtedly be organised to mark the birth centenary of the former Chief Minister. “However, the question is whether celebrations to mark the centenary of a leader warrant the erection of hoardings, banners, arches, flex boards, display boards and the like in contravention of law. The answer to the aforesaid question cannot but be in the negative.”

‘No topo sketch’

Though it was claimed before the court that permission had been granted to erect 258 banners/hoardings in various places in Coimbatore city for the celebrations, the judges pointed out that there was no topo sketch indicating the approximate points of erection of each banner. “This appears to be in clear contravention of the statutory regulations,” they added.

The first Division Bench pointed out that the Coimbatore City Municipal Corporation Act of 1981, the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act of 1959 and the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies (Permission for Erection of Digital Banners and Placards) Rules of 2011 lay down the stipulations for displaying such publicity materials.

As per the law, the prerequisites for setting up digital banners and placards were that those wanting to erect such publicity materials must obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the owner of the land where the placard was to be erected if it happened to be a private land or building and a similar certificate from government officials if it was a public property.

In addition, an NOC should be obtained from the Inspector of the police station concerned to the effect that the proposed digital banners or placards would not be an obstruction to free and safe movement of traffic, pedestrians and vehicles. Further, the applicants should produce a topo sketch of the roads and streets indicating the proposed approximate points of erection.

On compliance of the conditions, permission would be granted for a maximum of six days and the permission holder should display at the bottom of the digital banners or placards, in a font size of not less than one inch height, the permission number, period of validity and total number of digital banners and placards for which permission had been given.

The 2011 Rules also stipulate the maximum size of a digital banner or placard and make it clear that the digital banners or placards should be erected only parallel to the footpath or road and not across the footpath or road margin except in the case of display in the median of the road. There must also be a distance of 10 meters between one digital banner and another.

After extracting all the stipulations in their judgment, the judges said that the petitioner’s counsel had also drawn their attention to the death of 32-year-old software engineer K. Ragupathy who died on the early hours of Saturday after being run over by a truck when he fell off his motorcycle after hitting an arch put up at CMC junction on Avinashi Road near Peelamedu in Coimbatore.

“On a perusal of photographs and other materials, it appears that the accident may have been averted but for the arches abutting into the road. Of course, this observation is not to be construed as any finding of this court with regard to the cause of the accident. The fact remains that arches abutting into roads are hazardous to pedestrians and to traffic,” the judges concluded.

They ordered that all arches, display boards, hoardings, placards and banners with poles or frames fixed to them and/or dug into the ground, which abut into highways, public streets and pedestrian pavements in Coimbatore city should be removed forthwith.

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