DESPITE loss of some lives a couple of weeks back from a toppling billboard, a large number of them still remain precariously balanced on rooftops right before the eyes of the administration. Rajuk and the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) have no idea as to how many illegal billboards are installed on Dhaka's rooftops. One estimate says that there are around 4,000 such structures, with 90 percent of them being billboards on rooftops. There is every possibility that some of those billboards will claim more lives as the month of Baishakh is fast approaching with the message of sudden storms and gusty wind.
What is most disconcerting is the fact that the owners of the billboards and the Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) seem to be unperturbed by the deaths and injury caused by the falling structures. The High Court (HC) directive concerning demolishing of the illegal billboards goes unheeded as owners are apt to point to HC stay order given earlier that prevented the authorities concerned from dismantling some of them. A HC bench on March 22, 2010 had directed DCC to dismantle all unauthorised billboards, but earlier the HC bench in an order on December 10, 2007 had stopped Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha, the DCC and the police from dismantling rooftop billboards until a writ petition filed by Outdoor Advertising Owners' Association (OAOA) is disposed of. Why this conceptual mix up as the latest HC order of 2010 should hold good barring some exceptions which await disposal of writs? Why are the unauthorised billboard owners are taking advantage of the temporary stay order when the general order is for demolition of illegal structures?
What is veritably surprising is that allegedly none of the rooftop structures are authorised nor do the owners pay any tax for them.
Basically, we therefore believe that all these anomalies provide impelling reasons for immediately formulating a set of rules whereby installation of billboards and hoarding will be governed with due deference to the aesthetic of the landscape, beauty and alignment in the city and, above all, safety of the public and environment around them.