The High Court of Kerala, through Justice Devan Ramachandran, has directed Local Self Government Institutions to take proactive steps in removing illegal hoardings and flex boards all across the state on a war footing. Justice Ramachandran also formulated certain guidelines to be followed in the installation of hoardings and flex boards in future.
The court had, on an earlier occasion, directed the Chief Secretary and Secretary for Local Self Government Institutions, by way of an affidavit, to explain the difficulties caused to the public by these hoardings and the steps taken to rectify in the same. You may refer to the earlier story here.
In the affidavit filed by the Principal Secretary, Local Self Government Institutions, it was stated that these boards/hoardings had been installed without any permission/license from the concerned authorities. It was further said that though payments would have to be paid with tax for such installations, the same has not been done in the instant cases. Placing reliance on the Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, it was averred that it was the duty of Local Government Institutions to take appropriate action under the Law.
The court, taking note of the contents of the affidavit, said many illegal hoardings and boards were indiscriminately placed one over another without anyone to remove them, which now resembled a ‘Byzantine Maze’. Such installations cause great inconvenience to the public and impede the free flow of traffic, the court opined. The court expressed anguish over the acts of the offenders, terming it ‘distressing’, especially at a time, when the Central and state governments were taking earnest efforts in promoting sanitation and cleanliness all around.
The court, hence, called upon the respective local self-government institutions across the state to take earnest efforts in removing these illegal hoardings/flex boards on a war footing. Noting the loss of revenue caused to the state exchequer due to non-payment of due fees for such installations, the court directed the concerned authorities to levy such amounts as a penalty from the offenders while removing such installations.
Making specific reference to the havoc caused by the recent Kerala floods, the court said there was hardly any land space left to dispose of the debris/damages caused to life and property and hence an additional burden of disposing of these illegal flex boards/ hoardings ought to be avoided. The court thereupon called the government to issue necessary directives in imposing strong measures to curb/prevent the misuse of hoardings and flex boards and to ponder scientific means to dispose of the same accordingly. The court further called upon the concerned government institutions to create necessary awareness in this regard and to develop a ‘civic sense responsibility’ in citizens for the future against these maladies.
Before summing up, Justice Ramachandran formulated certain guidelines to be followed in the installation of such hoardings and flex boards in future. Justice Devan Ramachandran opined: “It is also a desideratum that when the Local Self Government Institutions permit such Boards to be erected in future, it be ensured that the Boards are erected in specified places/spaces suitable for such and that requisite conditions are imposed for the disposal of the boards in a scientific manner after its purpose is served. The responsibility of removing such Boards shall be imposed upon the persons /entities erecting them and suitable undertaking /bonds shall be taken from them for this purpose. While choosing the places where the Local Self Government Institutions can permit such Installations, care shall also be taken that no such Board shall be erected in between the road and the pedestrian area or in any manner protruding into the road margins or into the common area used for pedestrians or the motorists.”