CHENNAI: A day after the tragic death of 23-year-old Chennai girl Subhasri, killed in a freak accident involving an unauthorized banner, the hashtag '#whokilledsubhashree' trended on Twitter with furious netizens slamming the government and corporation officials for their negligence on the popular microblogging site. “When the police can check for helmets, insurance, vehicle papers in the pretext of 'safety of drivers' why are they turning a blind eye to the illegal banners and damaged roads, which are equally dangerous?” asked a twitter user. Several users also ridiculed the corporation's move on sealing the printing press, with one user asking,” So if a drunk and drive case is reported next time, will the government seal the tasmac?”. A few people also came in support of the water tanker driver who was arrested by the police yesterday .” When the police can arrest the driver and seal the printing press, why is no action taken against the guilty officials?” read a tweet. Users were also quick to recall a similar incident in 2017 involving Ragupathy Kandaswamy, a 30-year-old software engineer, who had flown down to India from the US to meet a prospective bride and had died after his motorcycle rammed into a temporary wooden hoarding set up for MGR centenary celebrations by the AIADMK cadres.
The 'banner menace' issue in the state goes a long way. The practice of erecting banners for political leaders, film stars and even commoners is rampant in the state, with these huge structures towering over roads before occasions, becoming a common sight over the years. Notably, in 2017, the Madras high court had ordered a blanket ban on hoardings and flex boards featuring living persons.
Following the non-implementation of this order, public interest litigator and social activist 'Traffic' Ramaswamy filed a 'contempt of court' petition with the HC against the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu for failing to implement the court's order on unauthorised digital banners. The high court had then issued an interim ban restraining all political parties in Tamilnadu from erecting digital banners and hoardings and had ruled that violators will be punished under the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act and the and the Tamil Nadu Urban Local Bodies (Permission for erection of Digital Banners and Placards) Rules.
The announcement of various political parties informing their decision to shun events involving banners has also come under fire with several people questioning if it takes someone's life for the politicians to finally take cognizance of an existing ban, with some even calling them 'opportunists'. The corporation officials have also come under heavy criticism for letting such incidents happen right under their nose....