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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

When hoardings turn a hazard

THERE IS mounting public concern about the structural safety of advertisement boards erected on the top of multi-storied buildings in the city. A 14-year-old school student was killed and several others injured at Nemom when a poorly secured advertisement board collapsed on them in the strong wind that lashed the city on Wednesday afternoon.

An inquiry by the district authorities found that the board had been erected without the permission of the local panchayat. The police have registered a case against the owner of the board on the charge of causing loss to human life through rash and negligent action under section 304 (A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The Revenue authorities say they are taking a `hard look' at the structural safety of 40-odd advertisement boards erected on the top of buildings in the city. The District Collector is empowered to remove any structure that poses a threat to public safety, a Revenue department official said.

In August last year, a large advertisement hoarding on the top of a three storey building at Pulimoodu junction had come toppling down on to the M. G. Road, snapping power lines and disrupting traffic for several hours. An investigation conducted by the Fire and Rescue Department had found that the base of the hoarding was weak while the metal and wood frame was `top heavy'.

The struts at the base of the board were seen sunk into barrels filled with cement. The board had no vents to reduce air resistance. Fire officials say the same reasons were the cause for the collapse of the advertisement board at Nemom early this week.

An office-bearer of the Kerala Advertisement Industries Association says that many of the unauthorised advertisements boards in the city are structurally unsafe. (Under section 272 of the Kerala Municipalities Act, no advertisement is allowed without the permission of the concerned local body. However, the rule is observed more in the breach). Those who erect unauthorised boards compromise on structural safety for profit by using cheap material, he points out. Some of such boards have no proper `props' and are secured using thin metal wires. The Association is now `assessing' the safety standard of all advertisement boards in the city. The list of `unsafe' boards will be sent to the Municipal authorities.

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