After Subhasri’s Death, TN Govt Wants Hoarding for Xi-Modi Meet
The two leaders are set to hold meetings at Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) between 11 to 13 October.
On 12 September, a 23-year-old woman from Chennai was killed on the streets of the city by an illegal hoarding that turned into a death trap. The installation of the flex board, outlawed multiple times by the Madras High Court, was undertaken illegally for an AIADMK leader’s family function.
The flimsy board fell on Subhasri as she was riding a two-wheeler. The young woman lost control of her vehicle upon being struck by the banner, and a tanker lorry then collided with her, killing her. Subhasri’s death shook the conscience of the state and prompted anger from various quarters, finally forcing authorities to take long-pending action and forcing the courts to reiterate the law.
However, less than a month after her death, the AIADMK government has notified the Madras High Court proposing to erect more hoardings for the upcoming bilateral meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping. Why?
“Whenever any Head of State visits our country, as a part of bilateral relations and as a goodwill gesture on reciprocity, it is customary on the part of the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India to welcome the visiting dignitary by way of welcome banners,” (sic) the affidavit by the state government argues.
Affidavit On ‘Welcome Banner’
The two leaders are set to hold meetings at Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) between 11 to 13 October. However, the proposal to erect banners 'in designated places' seeks exemption from the law.
The affidavit says that the ‘welcome banners will be in places as per the specifications mentioned in the existing rules in force and that it would be ensured that they will not cause any hindrance to the public.’
This, despite the court's December 2018 direction making it clear that no registered or unregistered political party should erect flex boards that would cause inconvenience to motorists and pedestrians.
According to the state government, the MEA has proposed the installation of welcome banners in 14 locations in the city (including 9 locations on East Coast Road and 2 locations in Mahabalipuram).
However, the ‘Government of Tamil Nadu will put up welcome Banners enroute from Airport to Mahabalipuram (5 locations in Chennai city, 4 locations in Mahabalipuram and 7 locations in OMR and ECR) through the Directorate of Information and Public Relations.’ This takes the total number of banners to 30.
It is to be noted that the petition makes clear that permission is not being sought for the installation but a prayer is being made to the court to consider facts and pass suitable orders.
Citing Section 278 of the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919, the state government's undertaking affidavit states, “Hence issuance of license/permission for erection of welcome banners in the places belonging to the Government is not required (sic).”
The affidavit, filed on behalf of both urban and rural local bodies, further says that the welcome banners will be put up from 9 to 13 October, for ‘only five days.’
It submits that the existing permanent structure will be utilised for the display of these banners and temporary structure will be erected only when a permanent set up is lacking. It promises that this will be undertaken in adherence to all safety and stability norms. “The strictest standards of safety would be maintained,” it says.
(This article was first published on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
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