Defacing roadside trees in Chennai can now result in a heavy fine and a jail term which may extend up to three years.
The Greater Chennai Corporation G Prakash announced on Sunday that hanging advertisement boards, banners, cables and putting up fairy or other decorative lights on roadside trees could land perpetrators. According to reports, the civic body also grants residents 10 days to remove these additions, failing which the action stipulated under the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act, 1919, will apply.
Section 326 of the Act puts in place regulations and procedures on how a hoarding can be put up in a public place in the corporation limits, which requires a license from the District Collector. Sub-section I of Section 326 specifies a fine of Rs 10,000 and a jail term of up to 3 years for those who violate the terms and conditions of the act. The local body has now extended this Act to include roadside trees.
Residents can even post complaints on the Namma Chennai app – the mobile application for the Greater Chennai Corporation – which allows residents to address public grievances, among other things. They can even call up 1913 and register complaints to take down these hoardings.
Among the several complaints against putting up hoardings and lights on trees include risks of pathogen attacks on trees and disruption of their functioning. Speaking to TOI, a Chennai based botanist stated that drilling nails into trees to hang boards will make the tree vulnerable to pathogens, which enter through the hole. This can weaken the tree from inside even though it may look healthy from the outside. Hanging lights on trees may further confuse it into photosynthesis in the night and can even affect its reproductive capabilities.
These lights and hoardings also pose as distractions to motorists who commute on the roads.