In its latest report on Delhi’s “outdoor advertising policy”, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has ruled out hoardings mounted on mobile vans and rooftops in residential areas. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had approached the environmental body with this request.
The environmental agency’s report, submitted to the Supreme Court’s special bench on forest matters, also turned down the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation’s (DMRC) request to be able to put up billboards on its property without permission from the MCD. The court-appointed authority held it was important to hold municipal bodies accountable for compliance with policy and, therefore, no exemption could be permitted.
Advertisements mounted on mobile vans
MCD had placed its request to allow hoardings on stationed mobile vehicles at select locations. It argued that as advertisements were allowed on other mobile vehicles, like public buses or taxes, vehicles stationed with the sole purpose of advertisements should also be allowed.
Rejecting the proposal, EPCA said it was fallacious to argue that mobile vehicles deployed for the sole purpose of advertisements could be equated with public utility and intermediate public transport vehicles.
The environmental agency’s decision was based on the Delhi Police report that vehemently opposed mounted hoardings stating that these vehicles created traffic hindrances. However, EPCA allowed rooftop billboards as it felt it was difficult to enforce the proliferation of such hoardings.
While EPCA has exempted DMRC from sharing its revenue of advertisements for the next five years, the authority has directed Northern Railways to share 25 per cent of the revenue with MCD.
The exemption to DMRC has been approved on the basis of a Government notification that mandates the corporation to raise revenue from property development as also through levy of dedicated taxes.
No ads without permission of municipal bodies
Both the Northern Railway and DMRC pressed for their rights to display advertisements on their property without seeking prior permission of municipal agencies.
EPCA, however, held the policy on outdoor hoardings would apply uniformly to all, including the land-holding agencies. “All provisions of the policy will have to be met by these agencies during the grant of advertising contracts. To ensure that the policy is strictly adhered to, it is necessary that prior permission is sought from municipal bodies,” held the authority.
Reduce space between two hoardings
Private agencies had criticised EPCA’s policy on the grounds that there was no empirical data to prove the hazardous nature of outdoor advertisements. The agencies further submitted that the size of hoardings should be increased and the distance stipulated in the draft policy be reduced.
EPCA disagreed with the agencies and said its analysis was based on a survey of global literature. “It is clear from studies done across the world that there is substantial concern regarding the correlation between the distraction caused by outdoor advertisements and driving,” held the EPCA.