Surrounded by concrete buildings, amidst loud noises and beeping horns in the city, you want to look at the sky and ease your heart to get away from your hectic schedule. Maybe you desperately look for a bird roaming freely in the sky or green trees. Alas, all you can see is fantasy on boards. Yes boards, all kinds of, advertisements, notices and propagandas. Faces and signs on them grinning at you without invitation.
It is visual pollution, trash in the sky and rubbish on boards. Today, they are even on skyscrapers and it seems there is no limit for those giant sign boards, billboards, cut outs that not only clutter the view but also create safety hazards in the metropolis. Nothing destroys the natural view of the cities more rapidly than uncontrolled signs and billboards.
When you drive into almost every city of the country, one thing you cannot avoid is the sight of these uncontrolled huge boards which irritate your eyes. For some they might be interesting but for nature loving eyes, vivid colours, mega sized images, fonts and signs are a tiring sight. We grew up with the nature and love to see natural scenes, not technologically created colourful boards.
It is a fact that smart communities and untouched scenic vistas are necessary to upgrade our quality of life. Both give confidence to humans to be pleased with beauty of the natural environment and to maintain it further. Furthermore, every new billboard emphasizes the acuity that ugliness is the progress of the development. It indirectly highlights that we achieve progress destroying the natural beauty of the remaining resources. This false choice serves only a few people who get the benefit of the business, and it compels us to accept the destruction of scenic beauty, natural environment and historical features of cities.
This billboard hazard can be considered as “anti aesthetic”. In every country most people agree; billboards are a stain on the natural environment. They contribute to disorder the environment and create visual noise and confusion. People may like advertising sometimes to discover about new products but do we want advertising everywhere we see? Let’s listen to a few people and find the common opinion.
Nowadays there is a visible tendency emerging for digital advertisements which is also harmful in different aspects. It could affect the attention of the vehicle drivers and if they lose their concentration, it will definitely result in major accidents which may even claim innocent lives. Because of these digital advertisements the road signs and traffic signals are not easily identifiable to the drivers. This is a very hazardous situation and we have to avoid this situation with correct regulations.
Though almost every person says it is a headache and menace, still the issue remains growing with more boards and posters day by day. Now the question rises, are there any regulations regarding these billboards?
Every person who wants to display a billboard, cut out or any type of a poster must get the clearance certificate from Urban Development Authority (UDA) Enforcement Division. Further it is necessary to present a project proposal where the size of the board is clearly mentioned. It is monitored and checked by UDA and they issue the clearance certificate. Whenever there are unauthorized billboards, it is possible for UDA to remove them and especially when someone complains about a disturbing board, UDA takes actions to remove them.
However, the lacking part is there is no proper body to monitor the boards continuously. Therefore people keep on displaying many boards. Another significant fact is, within the area of express ways such as Southern Expressway, Colombo – Katunayaka Expressway and Outer Circular Highway it is strictly prohibited to display any board except the authorized sign boards displayed by Road Development Authority.
According to the National Thoroughfares Act No 40 of 2008 which is basically put into action by Road Development Authority, “every person, without either the prior consent of the relevant Executive Engineer or without reasonable excuse, paints or inscribes or affixes or any picture, letter sing, statue, hoarding or other mark upon carriageway of a road, a public road or national highway are not allowed and can be guilty of an offence.
The particular Executive Engineer is authorized to notice to the owner or occupier of any building, require him to remove alter any unauthorized porch, projecting roof, Projecting window, step, wall, gate or any such thing and which has been erected or placed in front of a building which causes an obstruction to the safe passage of vehicles and pedestrians along a road, public road or national highway. Any person, who fails to give effect to such a notice within reasonable time, will be guilty of an offence.
Further the act says that, no person is allowed to place or fix any traffic sign, overhead beam, pipe, cable, wire gantries hoardings or rail or other similar apparatus over, along or across a road, a public road or national highway without the consent of the relevant Executive Engineer.
Now it is clear that nobody can display any board according to his or her will, but has to get permission and clearance certificate from the responsible bodies. On the other hand there should be a particular body to monitor all these billboards and control them strictly. It would definitely create positive results in decreasing the issue. We must get rid of these boards to create clean cities which are attractive with natural scenes. It would make tourists attract to the country and those who visit will encourage others to visit the country.
What everybody requires is not cities without boards, but cities with limited number of attractive nature friendly boards which do not destroy the natural scenic beauty of the resources. To achieve this, both authorities and those who display the boards should be more cooperative. If both parties work together well, soon we can get rid of this unnecessary issue.