ISLAMABAD: The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has assured the Supreme Court that it would soon remove billboards installed at the press club as well as some army land since notices had already been issued to them.
The assurance was held out before a two-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed that had taken up a suo motu case relating to installation of huge billboards in cantonment areas of the country and other cities.
“There are a few billboards which are installed on army lands and the press club. For removal of those, notices have been served to the concerned formation,” said a report furnished before the apex court by the director of Municipal Administration, adding the billboards would be removed soon.
The report said the MCI was doing its best to remove the billboards/hoardings, bridge panels and LED screens from footpaths, roads, triangles, central medians/squares and roundabouts to ensure aesthetic beauty of the city as well as public safety. In this regard, the MCI has already issued notices to the advertisement companies to remove their structures immediately, the report said.
Two-judge bench has taken up suo motu case related to installation of huge billboards
The issue cropped up after an advertising company moved an appeal before the Supreme Court against the cancellation of its licences by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) without a prior notice.
In one of the proceedings, the court had also wondered whether the CDA had ever conducted a public safety study on the structural stability of billboards and hoardings since they may harm the surrounding population in case of strong winds or thunderstorm.
The MCI in its report explained that in compliance of the Oct 17, 2018, court order it had launched an operation within the municipal limits of Islamabad for the removal of the billboards/hoardings.
During the operation, billboards/hoardings were removed from Chungi No 22 Taxila, Golra Mor and other locations of Islamabad.
There were several billboards/hoardings installed in the jurisdiction of the Pakistan Horticulture Authority (PHA) Rawalpindi, the list of which was also sent to the authority for their early removal.
The billboards/hoardings installed near Islamabad International Airport (IIA) were on private properties and these fell in the jurisdiction of Rawalpindi. But notices have also been served on the advertisers of these billboards/hoardings for their removal.
The MCI said the removal of such advertisements in Marakaz, footpaths and greenbelts was a continuous process and continued throughout the year. Therefore, in compliance with the orders of the Supreme Court, the MCI has taken stringent measures to remove the advertisement structures falling under its control.
Meanwhile, a representative of the cantonment boards pleaded before the court that they lacked appropriate funds to remove the billboards/hoardings or other structures and had asked the advertising agencies to remove the same.
The court, however, expressed dissatisfaction and suggested that such structures may be auctioned with a direction that the federal as well as provincial governments should furnish reports within six weeks showing update on the removal of the billboards/hoardings.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2019