Supreme Court-appointed panel resists ads on mobile vehicles and rooftops

Dreams of out-of-home (OOH) advertisers and Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to earn revenue through ads on mobile vans and rooftops of buildings do not seem turning into reality, with the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region’s (EPCA and also known as the Bhure Lal committee) objections on the issue in its report.

The Supreme Court, being hearing a petition on MCD’s Outdoor Advertising Policy, had directed the EPCA in April 2008 to take all parties into consideration – including Northern Railways, DMRC, Indian Outdoor Advertising Agency, Pioneer Publicity Corporation Pvt Ltd, Sai Associates, Shalimar Advertiser, Anant Arts, and Taranjeet Kaur Sapra – before submitting its report on the Outdoor Advertising Policy of MCD as applicable also to the area under the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC).

 In regard of advertisement mounted on mobile vans and rooftops of residences, EPCA Report (July 2008) said, “It is fallacious to argue that mobile vehicles deployed for the sole purpose of advertisements can be equated with public utility and intermediate public transport vehicles. The policy is premised on the condition, that advertisements are used to provide public utilities and services.”

“Furthermore, it has been brought to EPCA’s attention that these vehicles are parked in different parts of the city and create traffic hindrances. Other cities have also voiced their concerns regarding the enforcement of these moving vehicles. In the same light, it is difficult to enforce that the proliferation of rooftop hoardings will not lead to visual pollution and safety hazard. The Delhi Urban Arts Commission has also ruled against roof top hoardings in its guidelines. EPCA is also constrained to state that it is already difficult to enforce the existing provisions of the policy and therefore, there is no reason to accept that the two new types of hoardings, even more difficult to regulate and enforce, should be allowed,” the report elaborated further.

MCD sought that advertisements should be allowed on mobile vehicles to be stationed at select locations and argued that as advertisements are allowed on other mobile vehicles, like public buses or taxis, the vehicles stationed with the sole purpose of advertisements should also be allowed. Also, the householders should be allowed to mount roof top hoardings, MCD argued further.

While in the matter of reducing the space between the two hoardings and distance of the hoarding from the road and the removing size constraints on the hoardings, EPCA recommended for no changes in the draft policy on these provisions. However, changes have been made to standardize the sizes of the different formats in the final policy.

It had been argued by many of the private advertising agencies that the draft policy is wrong in paying attention to the issue of safety of road users, as there is no empirical data to prove the hazardous nature of outdoor advertisements. These agencies sought that the size of hoardings should be increased and the distance stipulated in the draft policy be reduced.

It is notable that after a decade, Delhi had been allowed to place billboards officially, when the apex court approved the MCD’s Outdoor Advertising Policy, withdrawing the ban on billboards in the capital. This policy was finalized in July 2008(submitted to the Hon’ble Court).

For more detailed report of EPCA as well as MCD’s Outdoor Advertising Policy, visit: www.mcdonline.gov.in

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