November 30, 2016
Praying that the billboards and advertisements erected across road signals in national and state highways and other arterial roads in cities all over Tamil Nadu be removed and the practice banned, K Kathirmathiyon, a Coimbatore-based consumer activist has filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court.
Admitting the petition, the court has served notices to the Chief Engineer, National Highways Authority, TN Government Home Secretary, Transport Commissioner and Director General of Police. The respondents have been directed to file a counter before the court before January 2017.
Citing Indian Roads Congress (IRC) rules, which is the law-making body of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the erection of billboards and advertisements is against the laws, Kathirmathiyon said the IRC guidelines clearly specify that “signs and signals shall not carry any advertisement.” Traffic signal poles should not be used to erect boards, placards, cloth banners or sheets, as they hang across the road and distract the attention of drivers and are, therefore, hazardous.
The rules further state that no advertising material should occur within 100 feet of traffic junctions. But we see billboards and ad materials predominantly cluttered at these junctions, thanks to poor enforcement of rules by the district administration and police authorities.
Alleging that the erection and maintenance of road signals is often entrusted to sponsors, the law is misused to display their products and services at road junctions.
Kathirmathiyon had earlier sought an injunction from the court to ban the use of the centre medians on roads for advertisement purposes.