THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The city corporation's apathy and possibly corruption were exposed when stormy winds lashed the city on Wednesday. The flex boards and hoardings erected illegally collapsed on vehicles and pavements when winds with a speed of 70 kmph lashed areas such as Shasthmangalam, Fort and Nemom. As per the norms, all the hoardings and arches should be made to withstand cyclonic winds of up to 120 kmph. Advertisement boards above 10 feet in height and 15 feet in width are classified as hoardings.
"If you check MG Road between Statue and East, you will find several new illegal flex hoardings. Unlike traditional hoardings with hinged ventilation, they don't leave holes making them vulnerable," said an entrepreneur in outdoor publicity
Hoardings have to be at least 50 metres away from pavements and flex boards are banned. "The hoardings' structures have to be rooted on at least three feet of concrete. These concrete basements are never part of the original structure of buildings and are weak with no steel connection inside them. The corporation building department rarely checks all these things," he added.
Hoardings placed at crucial locations can fetch between Rs 3 lakh and Rs 5 lakh per year to the outdoor publicity agent who pays rent to the building owners. Smaller LED advertisement boards by shops and malls also pose danger as the contract to build them are awarded to the cheapest bids. "LED boards are built with two-inch thick pipe frames. They will bend and fail if a proper cyclone hits us. They will fly and kill people," the expert added. The corporation officials said that they will crack the whip on the offenders in the wake of the cyclone.