Kochi: The row over erecting billboards on Metro pillars is intensifying with the National Highway Authority (NHAI) submitting a complaint to the state chief secretary against the advertisements put up by Kochi Metro Rail Ltd.
The chief secretary sought a report from the KMRL which has sent a reply. The NHAI opposed billboards on Metro pillars along the highway stretch citing that the illuminated structures would distract the attention of drivers and cause mishaps.
PWD minister G. Sudhakaran has also warned against the bill boards. Instead of commercial billboards, the KMRL can use the space for exhibiting messages of public interest, he remarked.
KMRL sources told DC that the bill boards were not in violation of road safety norms and that opposing the advertisements would affect the sustainability of the Metro project. "For KMRL, billboards on pillars are a major alternative revenue source. As the state and Union governments give sanction for expansion of Metro based on its sustainability, opposing alternative revenue sources will adversely impact the future of the project," the sources said.
"Apart from the mass transit project, KMRL is taking up several other urban transport initiatives in greater Kochi area for which the support of all government agencies is necessary," the official added.
The Metro agency will take up the matter with the state government after the new managing director, Muhammad Haneesh, who is away now, returns.
Earlier, the KMRL had lodged a complaint with the city police commissioner that four billboards placed on the Metro pillars at Edapally had gone missing while electrical connections to 15 pillars were found disconnected. Based on the complaint, the Kalamassery police registered a theft cases.