MCD to audit condition of Delhi billboards | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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MCD to audit condition of Delhi billboards

May 15, 2024 05:48 AM IST

The decision came a day after showers and winds enveloped Mumbai, resulting in a 120x120 ft hoarding to collapse, an incident in which 14 people were killed

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) on Tuesday ordered all contractors and operators managing outdoor billboards to audit the structural safety of hoardings, unipoles and other advertisement structures, and to submit a compliance report in three days.

Workers remove debris at the accident site in Ghatkopar, Mumbai on Tuesday. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)
Workers remove debris at the accident site in Ghatkopar, Mumbai on Tuesday. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)

The decision came a day after pre-monsoon showers accompanied by gusty winds enveloped Mumbai, resulting in a 120x120 ft hoarding to collapse, an incident in which 14 people were killed.

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“In the wake of unfortunate incident of collapse of hoarding in Mumbai due to thunderstorm causing loss of precious lives on May 13, 2024 all the advertisers empaneled with advertisement department of the corporation are advised to carry out structural audit of their unipoles and advertisement structures immediately and fix them of so needed,” the MCD order dated May 14 stated.

To be sure, Delhi is not plagued by massive outdoor advertisement fixtures as the size of hoardings is capped at 10x5m (32x16 ft) for roads wider than 100ft, and 6x3m (20x10ft) for roads less than 100ft in width.

“However, in practice, most hoardings in the city are 20x10 ft, and there are very few hoardings that are larger, with size that maxes out at 26x13ft,” a senior MCD official said, on condition of anonymity, adding that the maximum permitted height for unipoles is 10m.

HT had on Tuesday reported that the Mumbai structure that collapsed was three times the maximum permissible size for hoardings, which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has capped at 40x40 ft.

MCD claims that there are no illegal unipoles in Delhi.

The Capital also has several wall wrap advertisements, which have a relatively larger permitted size — 50sqm, or around 538 sq ft. However, the MCD official said, these pose no risk to people or properties. “These ads are basically films wrapped on the surface of a multi-storey parking structure or a building,” the official explained.

Why Delhi has no large billboards

Delhi’s outdoor advertisement sector has been under the scanner of the Supreme Court since 1997, which led to the creation of the Outdoor Advertisement Policy in 2007, followed by amendments in 2008 and 2017. The Supreme Court monitored outdoor hoardings in the city since December 10, 1997 because of its concern regarding the safety of road users, and on the grounds that hoardings, if not regulated, could constitute a disturbance for traffic and lead to accidents.

Formulated by the erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority or EPCA on directions of the Supreme Court, the policy came into effect in August 2017, and also aims at improving aesthetics and reducing visual clutter.

The sector is regulated by the Outdoor Advertisement Policy, which was formulated by the erstwhile Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority or EPCA on directions of the apex court. The policy, which came into effect in August 2017, also aims at improving aesthetics and reducing visual clutter.

The policy divides outdoor advertisements into four categories — large-format advertisements (mainly billboards, unipoles and variable message advertising devices such as LED screens), ads mounted on public amenities (public toilets, garbage dhalaos), fleet and transport-related infrastructure, and self-signage advertising in commercial areas.

According to the policy, the size of large-format advertisements is regulated by the width of the road where it has been installed. For roads with a width less than 100 feet, the device is capped at a size of 6mx3m, and for roads wider than 100ft, the maximum size of the device is 10x5m “However, in practice most of the billboards in city fall under 6x3m category (20x10ft), and there are very few sites which are 26x13ft (around 8x4m),” the MCD official quoted above said.

As per regulations, prior permission of the civic body is required to install all outdoor advertisement devices such as billboards, hoardings, unipoles, banners, self signages, flagpoles, street furniture, and vehicles. The policy also regulates the size, content, location, revenue sharing and other aspects of these structures.

Officials said that companies wishing to install an advertisement device must furnish before MCD a structural stability certificate. In addition, the firms must carry out an audit of each advertisement site through experienced and practising structural engineers.

While clearing the policy, EPCA had noted that a “special exemption would be granted to DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) and Railways to put up OAP on railway bridge, flyovers and FOB (foot overbridges), but subject to clearance of the site/bill board plan by the commissioners of the municipal corporations. It was also agreed that the structural stability of the billboards would be handled with utmost care and that all effort would be made to avoid visual clutter and ensure both safety and aesthetics”.

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