Despite a ban on hoardings on highways, national highway 95 in Ludhiana is dotted with banners and posters. In 1998, Punjab and Haryana high court had given directions to remove encroachments along highways. But, in absence of proper execution of the orders by the authorities concerned, illegal hoardings can be seen within and outside municipal corporation (MC) limits creating problem for commuters.
Besides the big hoardings and advertisements, including political, commercial and religious, small hoardings have been put up by the area shopkeepers along the roads that lead to traffic snarls.
When HT team visited the city, two commercial hoardings were found on national highway at Chehlan, a religious banner at Neelon Bridge, one hoarding at Katani and one at Kohara and two advertisement boards in front of Ramgarh police post that distract commuters. Besides, hoardings can be seen on Chandigarh Road, Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, Pakhowal, Ferozepur, Gill and Haibowal road.
There is no single dhabha and restaurant that has installed its advertisement boards, hoardings and banners illegally. These outlet owners have also kept their boards on the medians. There are approximately 70 such outlets from Samrala to Ludhiana.
Punjab traffic adviser Navdeep Asija said, “In 1998, Punjab and Haryana high court had passed directions to remove hoardings and advertisements along the national highways, which were considered dangerous and an impediment to the safe movement of traffic. Any kind of hoarding or advertisement is banned on national highways as per the orders.”
“For instance, if an eatery is set up on 1,100 square feet area, only 2% of its area can be used to display the outlet’s name,” Asija said.
Jatin Pal, who comes to Ludhiana from SAS Nagar regularly, said, “Large numbers of illegal hoardings have been installed on Chandigarh road. Due to this, it becomes difficult for the commuters to drive.”
Even the state government had increased the fine for violation of Section of 123 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act (prohibition of advertisement without permission).
Vipin Sharma, project director, CMU, Ambala, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), said, “Our department removes hoardings, but eateries and dhabha owners install them again. It is very difficult to put force for 24 hours to check these irregularities. There is no fine on violators, only the hoardings are removed.”
“The hoardings to welcome religious processions are allowed, but not with pictures of any political leader. MC should remove all such hoarding after the religious procession gets over,” he added.
Major Sher Singh Aulakh (retired), general secretary of Ex-Servicemen Welfare Society and district president of Bharat Jan Gyan Vigyan Jatha, said, “MC can earn more profit through legal hoardings, and imposing heavy penalty on those who put illegal banners and hoarding in city.”
Mayor Harcharan Singh Gohalwaria said, “I have already given instructions to remove all illegal hoardings.”
MC commissioner GK Singh Dhaliwal was not available for comments, as he is on training at Mysore till December 30