Political parties have all come out with strong statements a day after the tragic death of software engineer R Subhasri who was killed in a road accident after an illegal banner fell on her while riding a two-wheeler. On the ground, however, its cadre or even civic officials seem to be unmoved.
While it was an illegal banner erected by an AIADMK man that killed Subhasri, residents point out that parties of all hues erect banners illegally, and the Chennai Corporation officials are toothless to act against it. For instance, in Royapuram area, there were scores of illegal banners erected by DMK functionaries for a marriage function on Friday.
“Recently, some persons erected illegal banners on KK Salai in KK Nagar for a marriage function. When I raised a complaint using Namma Chennai App, the officials were prompt to remove them. However, they left the banner at the same spot only to be erected later,” said V Gopalakrishnan, an activist and resident of KK Nagar.
Officials should remove the banner and seize them, as leaving them on the same spot would serve no purpose, Gopalakrishnan added.
When asked, R Lalitha, Joint Commissioner (revenue and finance), denied it and said the local officials would take the removed banners with them. “If there is such an issue, we will issue a circular mandating seizure,” she added.
As erecting banners on the centre medians is against the rules, the joint commissioner said the civic body was contemplating action against local engineers for their failure to remove them.
This is done not only by political parties. On Friday, DT Next found banners of private establishments and even government departments dotting the roads.
The Madras High Court banned erecting banners from December 19, 2018, following which the civic body stopped issuing permission. “From December 19 to July 30, we removed 1,418 illegal banners and filed 471 community service registers (CSR),” JC Lalitha said.
The city Corporation has sent a proposal to the government to increase the penalty to Rs 15,000 per banner from Rs 5,000, but it is yet to be approved. It has also decided to increase license charge.
Lalitha said the civic body would undertake a city-wide drive to remove banners, hoardings and flag poles. “We will also remove LED boards in the city. Illegal hoardings are erected in dangerously in many spots. Hoardings and banners are unsafe for a city like Chennai, which witnesses frequent cyclones,” Lalitha admitted.
The civic body would also identify designated places to erect banners. According to norms, the public should print their banners only at registered printing presses. The banners should have the details of the printers at the bottom. Also, the civic body has fixed the dimension of the banners based on the road width. No-objection certificate from police is also mandatory. The one that led to Subhasri’s death violated all the three norms.