In a crackdown on illegal banners in Chennai prompted by the death of a techie, Subasree(23) in a road accident and the consequent strictures passéd by the Madras High Court, the Greater Chennai Corporation has removed nearly 4,000 unauthorised hoardings and banners in the last two days.
The crackdown began after the death of Subasree on Thursday in Pallikaranai after one such banner fell on her which to the death. She lost her balance and fell from her scooter and was run over by a truck.
Besides removing illegal hoardings, the corporation has also registered over 250 cases against various persons, including owners of printing press where such flex banners are printed.
It has pressed into service three patrol vans to take photos of such banners and initiate action. It has also set up helplines so the public can telephone the authorities whenever and wherever they come across such hoardings.
To lodge complaints against banners and hoardings, people can call 9445190205 (north), 9445190698 (central) and 9445194802 (south) zones, he said.
It has warned that those who put up posters and banners in public places without prior permission will be prosecuted and punishment will be up to two in jail plus fine up to Rs 50,000. But the AIADMK former councilor S Jeyagopal whose posters welcoming Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam for his son’s wedding is still at large. Some unconfirmed reports pointed out that he has got himself admitted to a private hospital.
The police immediately arrested the driver of the truck on charges of rash and negligent driving under the IPC, registered an FIR against Jeyagopal only after the corporation lodged a complaint about the poster put up by him.
The follow-up action by the corporation has followed stringent observations made by a division bench of the Madras High Court which ordering an interim compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the parents of Subasree. The court has also said the solatium can be collected form corporation and police officials found to have failed in their duty.
During the proceedings in the high court, it came to light that Pallikarani and St Mount Police squabbled over who should remove the body of Subasree after she was run over and was badly injured. As a result, the golden hour was lost.
She was eventually taken to a hospital hardly 200 metres from where the accident spot by members of the public and a beat constable on duty. The hospital said she could have been saved had she been brought on time.
Similar crackdown on illegal hoardings has been undertaken by civic bodies all over Tamil Nadu as well as in neighbouring Puducherry.
Meanwhile, leading Tamil film stars Vijay and Suriya have asked their fans not to put up cutouts and banners for their new movies.
Actor Kamal Hassan in his TV show Big boss has said the cutout culture has continued despite several court orders over the years. He noted that Subasree was not the first victim of this culture. He recalled that in 2017, a young man Raghu while on home leave in Coimbatore from the US, died after one such banner fell on him.
He said politicians alone should not be blamed for this. Whoever put up posters for personal events like weddings and birthdays should also be reprimanded, he said. However, Kamal said nothing about the cutout culture prevalent in the Tamil film industry.