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Corporation erecting display boards in violation of rules, says CCC

COIMBATORE: Consumer body issues contempt of court notice to Corporation, district administration

Right at the Chinthamani Junction, at the intersection of Mettupalayam Road and Dr. Krishnasamy Road, stands a newly erected giant electronic display board. The board, at least 15 feet high, abuts the compound wall of a Coimbatore Corporation office.

Smart Cities

The Corporation officials say the board is one of the 30 boards that the civic body has planned to erect across the city under the Smart Cities Mission project to display advertisements. Eighty per cent of the space is for commercial advertisements and the rest for messages that the civic body will beam – from State Government messages or advisories on various topics from weather to time to pollution data.

The officials say that the Corporation has not incurred any cost because the erection of the boards is under the public-private partnership mode where the company or contractor erecting the board will bear the capital expenses, take care of the maintenance for five years and earn revenue by display of advertisements.

In fact, the Corporation gets to gain because the company or contractor is mandated to share a percentage of his revenue from advertisements.

But this is patently illegal, argues K. Kathirmathiyon, secretary, Coimbatore Consumer Cause (CCC). “Ever since the Corporation made public its intent in May this year to install such boards, the CCC has objected to it citing violation of various rules.”

Citing the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies Licensing of Hoardings and Levy and Collection of Advertisement Tax Rules, 2003, he says entry 10 (ii) therein says, “License shall not be granted for erection of hoarding in the following places, namely – in the corners of road or street junctions, up to a distance of 100 metres on either sides of the junction.”

The erection of the hoarding at Chinthamani Junction is in gross violation of the aforementioned rule. The one erected near the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, similarly, violates, the section that says that such hoardings or display boards should not be erected in front of hospitals.

The Indian Road Congress’ ‘A Policy on Roadside Advertisements’ says that advertisements should be 10m from the edge of the road (carriageway) and specifically disallows illuminated advertisements – in other words, electronic display boards. By erecting the electronic display boards, the Corporation has not only violated the State Government rules and Indian Road Congress’ norms, it has also disobeyed its superiors, Mr. Kathirmathiyon says and refers to the April 10, 2018 letter from Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department and a Madras High Court order in a case related to hoardings.

He further says that the district collector, who permits the advertisements, has also violated the rule as he should have seen the topography sketch before signing the permission. And, if he has seen, he would have known that the display board at Chinthamani Junction will be in violation of law.

The CCC has issued contempt of court notice to the Corporation and district administration and will take them to court, he adds.

The Corporation officials say that the civic body has abided by the law before erecting the display boards.

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