Published: Saturday, July 27, 2013

Billboards choke Ctg

Disturb scenic beauty of city due to lack of policy, inadequate drive to demolish illegal ones

Numerous billboards have been set up on the railway land in Tiger Pass area of the port city, blocking the view of the hills and the greenery. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

Numerous billboards have been set up on railway land in Tiger Pass area of the port city, blocking the view of the hills and the greenery. Photo: Anurup Kanti Das

Lack of policy regarding hoardings and poor coordination between state-run and local government bodies have let illegal installation of large advertisement hoardings go unchecked in Chittagong city.
Even though the Chittagong City Corporation identified 323 illegal billboards and removed 45 of them during a drive last month, such hoardings remain eyesores for the port city dwellers.
Architect Rezaul Karim, chief town planner for the CCC, said such unplanned installations were obstructing the scenic beauty of the city and posing as threats to pedestrians.
There have been instances in the country where people got killed as hoardings fell on them.
Half of the large hoardings in the port city were on land belonging to Bangladesh Railway, Chittagong Port Authority, National Housing Authority, while the other half were on CCC owned land, said a CCC official.
According to CCC records, out of 8,451 hoardings in the city, 3,595 are on CCC land. The real figure was near to 15,000, legal and illegal, sources in the local government body said seeking anonymity.
Abul Mansur, chief inspector (billboards) of the CCC, said the railway, the port authority and the National Housing Authority were approving hoardings on their own land even though they had no policy regarding the matter.
Mizanur Rahman, deputy director of Bangladesh Railway (East Zone) and also its authorised person for dealing with hoardings, told The Daily Star that they had a draft policy, which was waiting for approval form the railway high-ups.
He, however, could not provide details of the draft.
More than 200 large hoardings were on railway land and hills in the port city and at least 35 were illegally installed, he said, adding that they would form a committee soon to prevent putting illegal hoardings on railway land.
AQM Shahjalal Majumder, executive engineer of National Housing Authority, told The Daily Star that they had approved installations of many hoardings on their land despite not having any policy in this regard.
He said if the CCC issued a letter on the matter, they would take initiatives to remove the billboards.
Anupam Saha, executive magistrate of the Chittagong Port Authority, said the estate department of the port authority supervised hoardings and if the department notifies them regarding any illegal ones on their land, they would conduct a drive to remove it.
He too said that if the CCC issues a letter they would take action accordingly.
Najia Shirin, executive magistrate to the CCC, said they would start sending letters to the port authority, railway and the National Housing Authority urging them to remove illegal hoardings immediately.
Abul Mansur, the CCC inspector of billboards, said the CCC had formed a 50-member team for conducting drives to remove illegal hoardings. Representatives from the other organisations must also take similar initiatives, he added.
However, a CCC official, seeking anonymity, said the CCC had no official inspection committee to regularly monitor hoardings.
A railway official, wishing not to be named, said leaders of Jubo League, Bangladesh Chhatra League and Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal were behind the installation of illegal hoardings on CCC land.