The banner nuisance is not new to us but usualy reachs its peak during election time.
But thanks to strong enforcements of election commissioner, Mr. Gopalaswamy, banner mania is under check in Karnataka currently.
Erecting flex banners with self photo is easiest way to gain publicity and get an identity for yourself as a public personality. You can have some top political leader or some film star in the same banner to support you in case someone objects. Flex banners are pretty cheap. This post reveals that in Manipal (near Udupi, Karnataka), it costs just Rs 13 per square foot for flex banner. At that rate it takes only few hundred rupees per banner and for less than Rs 10000, you can cover your entire locality with banners exhibiting your photo.
Though election is prime reason for these banners, you don’t really need a reason if you are determined to erect a banner of yourself. If there’s a festival around, you can wish public with your full size photo in the banner, if some events are happening, you can welcome the delegates, if nothing is happening, you can form a fan club of some film star, call yourself its president, chairman (or whatever you please, though I am surprised to see no one calling themselves CEO of a fan club) and erect banners wishing the star happy birthday, success to his current movie or whatever. Any other innovative ideas?
Those setup with prior permission from municipality fetch some revenue to govt and help in city administration. But most of these banners and hoardings are often illegal. Earlier, cloth was used to prepare the banner, which used to deteriorate over a period of time due to rain, sun etc but these days, the vinyl banners are being extensively used, which are not biodegradable and stay for a long long period. (A related kannada post on this)
Usually nothing much is done to remove these illegal hoardings and banners, except some rare instances when they are brought down. Recently in Chennai, there was a massive drive to get rid of unauthorized hoardings and thousands of them were pulled down in a span of few days. Related Hindu report here and here (Scrap dealers literally had a feast because of this). Chennai city is looking much cleaner now and two localities, Harsha Koda and Suresh Menon have launched an initiative to thank the chief minister for this. Their website is http://thankyouchiefminister.com (March 2009 update: This site is appearing messed up and I'm told will be taken offline in sometime) Suresh Menon, a filmmaker got this idea which is implemented by Harsha Koda and his wife Prabha who are graphic designers by profession. The site allows people to log their appreciation towards their politicians ("we always complain, let us also thank them when they do something good", is the core idea behind the site) Site is barely 2 weeks old and Harsha told me he has plans to develop this site further and add extra features and eventually extend it to other states in near future. With this move, “lots of slums will have colorful tarpaulins this monsoon” he says. Harsha also runs Jalakara.com, a web designing company.
Similar drive is needed in other states to get rid of excess hoardings and banners.
Hyderabad is famous for its unipole hoardings. Nearly an year ago one of them collapsed in Banjara Hill, killing a person. GHMC has been more cautious with these hoardings since then. They also have even more distracting digital hoardings displaying videos and animation, diverting attention of motorists towards them. I am not sure of current situation there.
Any thoughts and suggestions on this issue are welcome.