A 23-year old girl lost her life after an illegal flex banner/hoarding that appears to have been erected on the median of the 200-feet radial road in Pallikaranai, Chennai for the family function of an AIADMK functionary had reportedly fallen on the two-wheeler that she was riding. She subsequently lost balance and fell on the road when a water truck ran over her.
The deceased has been identified as Subhasree, a B.Tech student who was a resident of the nearby Choromepet locality. Images from the scene reveal that the victim was not wearing a helmet at the time of accident. Photos from the vicinity of the accident spot reveal illegal banners, flags and flex hoardings of various sizes dotting the stretch.
Enraged netizens have taken to social media to question the relevant authorities and demand action with the hashtag “Who killed Subhasree?”. The illegal banner culture has been rampant in Tamil Nadu, where banners and flagpoles are erected in the footpaths, on the arterial stretches of the city and along medians. Predominantly, the banners or flagpoles are erected to welcome visiting political leaders, commemorate an occasion or to showcase a particular candidate’s loyalty to his/her party leadership.
This practice has been going on across Tamil Nadu despite repeated warning by the Madras High court. In 2017 the court had banned hoardings and flex boards featuring living persons, however the banner culture has continued to block pedestrian walkways and arterial roads unabated.
In December 2018 the Madras High Court restrained all the political parties in Tamil Nadu from erecting digital banners and hoardings on arterial roads posing a risk to road suers and pedestrians, until further orders.
Those erecting banners and such cut outs are liable to 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.
A similar incident had taken place in 2017 in Tamil Nadu’s second largest city Coimbatore, when a techie who had come to his hometown from the US to meet prospective brides had crashed his bike into a wooden hovering set up for the MGR centenary celebrations. As Ragupathy hit the structure and fell off his bike, a truck ran over him. This incident had caused severe outrage on social media with many netizens asking “Who killed Ragu?”