September 22, 2019
Coimbatore Corporation is in the process of finding a solution to ease the problem of posters defacing public walls and making them an eyesore.
“Stick no bills” actually means nothing in Coimbatore, a city that is progressing towards turning Smart! The public walls in the City have become advertising spaces for agencies that collect exorbitant amounts from clients promising “visibility”.
In gross violation of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act 1959, wall posters meant to advertise products, events and sometimes individuals, are stuck on public walls, TANGEDCO boxes and walls of government offices, defacing public property. While the Madras High Court has come down on unauthorised banners, one of which recently claimed the life of an IT employee in Chennai, the Corporation authorities state that there will be a crackdown on those defacing public property with unauthorised posters.
As per the Act, ‘ unauthorised advertisement may include bill, notice, paper, document or anything that contains words, signs or visible representations. The penalty for defacement could range from imprisonment to fines.’
Corporation Commissioner Sharavan Kumar Jatavath, lashing out at those who engage in sticking unauthorised posters, said that these were attempts to make the city look “ugly” when the Corporation is taking all efforts to clean up the city. “A team will be formed to look into this exclusively. We have been doing some ground surveys to handle any legal issues that may arise,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Corporation Prasanna Ramasamy said that the Corporation is already engaged in removing wall posters and graffittis besides banners, and will continue to penalise, file police complaints and register cases as per law.
Social activist Traffic Ramasamy, when contacted told The Covai Post that the judgement on erecting unauthorised banners, pasting wall posters and painting graffiti on public spaces that is being heared by the Supreme Court, will be given shortly. “The police and civic authorities must act on such illegalities,” he said adding that his fight against such illegal acts will continue. Traffic Ramasamy has been very actively protesting against erection of unapproved banners in Coimbatore and Chennai.
Wall posters serve as a major source of distraction for road users and motorists, says Coimbatore based activist A Manoj. When LeD displays and other unauthorised banners are banned because they are a source of distraction, wall posters that promise “visibility”, misusing public spaces, should also be banned. The posters have been growing in size, by the day, and now those stuck on the walls are in the size of a flex banner, he exclaimed.
The wall poster culture started when there was a political slugfest between MGR and Kalaignar Karunanidhi. Earlier posters that were stuck on wall were only that of films. But slowly they turned political in nature. Newspapers then displayed a small poster in front of petty shops with the day’s headlines. But now newspapers and magazines have resorted to defacing public walls. Public walls have now become their ad space. The who’s who of the City, who supposedly claim to do good to society, are indulging in self publicity and are also publicising their products and events through wall posters, unmindful of the fact that they are defacing public property, he added .
M Krishnan of Krishna Sweets said that posters stuck by them were meant to reach out to the public and if found that they were unauthorised, then they would refrain from seeking such visibility through posters.
While it is the duty of the Corporation officials and the Police Department to act on such violators, it also remains a social commitment of the media and clients of such advertisers to abstain from disfiguring public spaces, opine sources in the Corporation.
Electricity Minister P Thangammani meanwhile stated that a separate law is to be formulated to penalise those who stick posters, especially on the TANGEDCO boxes. Sticking of such posters has not only been jeopardizing people’s lives but also putting the electricity board employees at risk when they attempt to clean up the mess. The nuances of the law will be announced shortly by the Chief Minister K Palanisamy, he said.