Hoarding a big business?

Jul 10, 2024

One day, while travelling from Mumbai Airport, I noticed numerous advertisement hoardings lining both sides of the road. Hoarding on the highways and expressways is prohibited by a government circular. Still, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai earns a staggering Rs 200 crore a year from its levy of Rs 1.75 lakh per month for 40X40 sq ft hoarding. Each of the 24 wards under the corporation houses more than 100 hoardings. The prohibited business earns India’s richest municipal corporation a solid net revenue. Despite the government's emphasis on the safety and security of the people, the same government allowing such hoardings raises concerns. 

These hoardings are brightly lit, which distract drivers' attention and potentially lead to accidents. One particularly striking hoarding advertised a mega eye medical camp organised by a well-known NGO. The intense lighting on this board could cause eye strain, ironically prompting individuals to seek assistance at its medical camp.  

The governments prefer money more than the importance of safety, security, and well-being of citizens. It is heavily disheartening. They seem to operate more like profit-oriented multinational corporations—installing AI cameras on highways to generate revenue from vehicle owners rather than investing in safer infrastructure or enforcing speed limits. 

Similarly, authorities aim to extract substantial fees from companies placing hoardings. Just two months ago, the tragic incident in Ghatkopar, where some people lost their lives due to an illegal hoarding collapse, serves as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by such structures. During cyclones or extreme weather conditions, the risk of hoardings toppling over and causing significant harm escalates. 

One wonders why the government refrains from taking stricter measures to ban roadside hoardings, especially given the potential risks they pose. However, it is unlikely they would take such action as they display prominent hoardings along roadsides.