Hyderabad: Notwithstanding the strict ban and directives from the civic authorities, unauthorised banners, flexis, neon signboards and hoardings can be found all across the city.
A drive through the city, especially during political rallies, festivals and other events, reveal that despite the directorate of Enforcement Vigilance and Disaster Management (EVDM) wing of the GHMC imposing fines, several such advertisements that not only challenge the aesthetic appeal of the area but also pose accident risk to commuters and pedestrians continue to dot the city.
Several flex banners, neon lights and hoardings were spotted at Ameerpet, Narayanguda, Kukatpally, Moosapet, Miyapur, Himayathnagar, Malakpet, Abids, Secunderabad, Nallakunta, L B Nagar, Nagole and several other parts of Old City. According to the GHMC, there are over 2700 hoardings and over 300 unipoles in the city.
Types of Violations
Unipoles: Even as the authorities have been successful in implementing the ban of advertisements on unipoles across the city, experts said that the iron structures will be weakened over the years. “These massive iron structures might rust and lose structural stability over a period of time if left unattended. But the problem arises only when people flout rules and install hoardings heavier than prescribed dimensions. These things need must be looked at very carefully,” said SP Anchuri, vice-president, Structural Engineers World Congress
Banners/Hoardings: Despite special drives to pull them down, most of these hoardings are installed adjacent to busy roads and have the potential not only to cause severe damage to private and public property but pose serious threat to the lives of commuters. “Advertisement agencies take permission to erect hoardings measuring 40 x 20 square feet, but instead extend this to more than 70 square feet when they are installing them. Authorities must ensure the measurements don’t change on ground,” said Suresh Kumar, civil engineer
Central dividers/ Lollipop advertisement boards: In several areas, advertisements on central dividers are installed very low to the ground, at three or four feet, and block the vision of motorists. Experts pointed out that such hoardings pose an accident risk, especially at turnings. “The width of hoardings should be installed above the eye-level of the commuter and they should be less than the width of the central median,” said SP Anchuri, vice-president
Neon & glow signs boards: Excessive use of sign boards can sometimes distract motorists and cause accidents. Road safety experts said that repeated violations, despite fines, are a cause for concern. “At times, getting distracted for just a second can cause a major accident on city roads. These lights can often effectively distract the attention of drivers and can put their life in risk. They also obstruct the view of the drivers of the fast-moving vehicles and are always dangerous for the public,” said road safety expert Vinod Kumar Kanumala.
What does the rulebook say
As per the norms of Municipal Administration and Urban Development’s GO 68, the city is not permitted to have any advertising structure that serves no purpose or utility. In case an ad agency is interested to erect ads, it can only be done if they provide citizens with some amenity which complies with GHMC standards, such as by constructing public toilets or bus shelters with some advertising space, as permitted by the GHMC
- In September 2020, a school was fined Rs 1 lakh for erecting a banner on a pavement in the city in violation of the rules. The fine came after an activist took to Twitter and attached two photos showing the encroachment
- In February this year, EVDM wing slapped a fine of Rs 1.15 lakh on a businessman for allegedly erecting unauthorised hoardings and uni-poles at Jubilee Hills and Himayatnagar. The advertisement erected by the businessman to congratulate newly-elected GHMC mayor Gadwal Vijayalakshmi was unauthorised
- In July, a politician fined Rs 10 lakh for defacing the city with banners, flags, and hoardings showing himself with the chief minister, around the localities of Jubilee Hills, Banjara Hills, Gachibowli, Kachiguda, Kondapur among others
- In August, a penalty of Rs 80,000 was imposed on a political functionary for raising unauthorised banners and advertisement elements in Ramanthapur ward. The issue was brought to the notice of EVDM’s central enforcement cell through Twitter following which the penalty was imposed
Incidents and accidents
- A gust of heavy wind brought down a 15-ton unipole hoarding upon an ice cream parlour opposite KBR Park, killing one person and injuring four in April 2007
- A hoarding set up by GHMC for the Metropolis World Congress crashed on two bikes on Raheja circle-Old Bombay highway stretch causing death of one housekeeping executive and two injured in October 2014
- A giant hoarding at Jubliee Hills checkpost broke and fell on cars parked in front of Maruti Suzuki’s Nexa showroom in May 2016
- A hoarding which was erected on the terrace of a house, which was visible from PVNR expressway, falls due to strong winds in May 2016
- A couple travelling on a bike at Rampally X roads suffered injuries after a hoarding of a political leader fell on them due to heavy rain in July 2021. This incident was caught on camera. The police rushed to the couple and shifted them to a nearby private hospital
Only 2,600 in city hoardings legal: GHMC in RTI
According to Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), only 2600 hoardings are legal and the rest of them have been installed illegally. In reply to an RTI query, the GHMC said that it has earned revenue of 97.42 crore during April 2016 to December 2020. The RTI was filed by a member of YouRTI.in and social activist Karim Ansari.
The GHMC said it had collected revenues of Rs 80.18 crore from hoardings and unipoles. It also said that it earned Rs 26.26 crores from hoardings in 2017-18, its highest earning, followed by Rs 20.68 crores in 2018-19, Rs 18.44 crore in 2019-20, and Rs 14.80 crore in 2016-17.
In the last five years the urban local body has earned Rs 17.34 crore from neon and glow signboards. In 2019-20 it earned around Rs 4.33 crores, the highest revenue, followed by Rs 4.26 crores in 2016-17, Rs 4.19 crores in 2018-19, and Rs 4.01 crores in 2017-18.
However in 2020-21, GHMC earned only Rs 0.43 crore from neon and glow signboard advertising while no revenue was earned from hoardings during this period. This comes after the government issued an order in April 2020 saying rooftop hoardings and any advertisement structures above 15ft from ground level would not be permitted.
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