ISLAMABAD, Feb 20: Billboards that hide Islamabad’s green look are banned under the Capital Development Authority (CDA) rules - but not if they blink.
“Your information is wrong,” said the deputy director general of CDA’s municipal administration, Mansoor Ahmed Khan, brushing aside Dawn’s query about the two digital billboards that have appeared on the scenic Khyaban-i-Iqbal, popularly called Margalla Road, after the one erected at Peshawar Mor.
“They are not advertising billboards,” he explained.
“They are trivision, and we are permitted to install them in Islamabad.”
Only if he had explained the same to CDA Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz who had confirmed that the policy adopted by the CDA in 2010 against billboards within the city - except on the top of commercial buildings and on the Islamabad Expressway - was still there but referred Dawn to Mr Khan, perhaps for a definitive answer to its query.
But people in the advertising business certainly know better the difference between the digital trivision which flashes a set of ads and a billboard where an ad sits fixed.
“Both are outdoor units and are designed to attract buyers for the product advertised.
A billboard is an outdoor unit that projects a single message. A trivision is an outdoor unit also but projects three messages in succession,” one advertising manager told Dawn.
However, the difference that clinches the argument is that a trivision, a bit smaller than a billboard, generates more revenue for the site holder.
“Let’s not fool the citizens with semantics,” the advertising man said.
Environmentalists and the citizens owe the 2010 ban on hideous billboards to the former Capital Development Authority chairman Imtiaz Enayat Ali, now the federal secretary of regulations division.
“I pushed the CDA Board for the ban in pursuit of the new slogan ‘Islamabad the Green’ in place of ‘Islamabad the Beautiful’,” he told Dawn.
“We did not want Islamabad to lose any revenue but we did not want the city to lose its green character, degrading its environment, either.”
For citizen Irfan Manzoor the trivisions erected on the Margalla Road, near his home in Sector F-8/3, are eyesores.
“This is rape of the green city allowed by the Capital Development Authority for money,” he said, demanding their removal.
“Don’t mar Islamabad’s tree-lined roads with advertisement signboards.”
Adeel Arif, a student of Bahria University located on the Margalla Road, is also angry at the billboards.
“They are a distraction and give a hideous look to the green belts of Sectors F and E.” Capital Development Authority Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz however assured Dawn that “the policy (against billboards) is very much there. If there is any violation the offending billboard will be removed.”