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Sylhet City enveloped by illegal hoardings

4A large number of illegal billboards erected across the Sylhet city by the government and private organizations are posing serious risks of deadly accidents during heavy storms and other natural disasters. The haphazard billboards along with their steel supported structures may cause abrupt injuries to the dwellers and damage vehicles on the roads during a windy storm or rough weather. It may also cost human life as well.

The hoardings are not only put up along the roads, but also on rooftops of roadside buildings and government establishments. Installation of hoardings, mostly illegal, is going on rampantly here in the city posing serious risk to the city dwellers and impairing the city’s beauty.

President of Conscious Citizen Committee (CCC), Sylhet district unit said, “In the absence of proper monitoring by the departments concerned and administration, a section of the ruling party backed advertising companies are making money by renting out their illegally commissioned billboards.” “The illegal billboards are posing serious risk to city dwellers, especially during storms, as many of these billboards have been commissioned with poor foundation and without taking the risk of people getting injured under consideration,” he added.

Coordinator of Poribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) Sylhet district unit claimed according to the existing billboard policy, the maximum height of a billboard will not exceed 40 feet from ground level.  But he alleged that a number of billboards up to 100 feet in height have already been installed in different city points illegally using political influence.  If the city is hit by 100 km/h strong wind, there is strong possibility of massive causalities due to collapse of those mega billboards, he added.

Convener of Sylhet Nagorik Samaj said the corporation is hankering after money.

Hence, the very issue of the city-dwellers’ safety hardly gets any importance to them. He alleged, the city corporation does not bother issuing nod to set up risky billboards on and beside the city streets.

He suggested that the corporation think of alternative ways to earn revenue and penalise advertising firms for flouting the related rules.

Senior Licence Officer of SCC said that they have already served notice to the advertising companies to remove their respective illegal billboards from the city’s different areas, but they did not pay heed to the notice.

“As a result, we have no alternative but to go for evicting the illegal billboards for the greater interest of upholding the beauty of the city,” he added, saying that they would start the eviction drive very soon. Chief Executive Officer of SCC Anamul Habib admitted they can’t properly monitor the billboard installation process due to lack of adequate manpower.  “When we give permission, we take an undertaking from the leasees or billboard owners that they will be liable for any kind of incident or damage due to any kind of accident,” he added. Replying to a question, he, however, admitted that some influential people are involved in setting up illegal billboards.  “The SCC cannot demolish those due to various reasons,” he said.