The Man from Madras Musings was delighted to see the latest initiative by the Corporation of Chennai. It has put up signboards all along the flyovers, after it has finished painting them a garish green which, incidentally, is said to be the favourite colour of those who matter. These signboards request those who paste posters on public walls to think before they do so, for the flyover has been painted with the money that comes from the taxes paid by those who paste posters. Thus far, the appeal appears to have had its effect, for the flyovers that MMM is familiar with have remained poster-free.
However, MMM does have some differences of opinion with those who came up with this idea for deterring the poster nuisance. Firstly, do those who actually paste posters on walls pay any taxes? Highly unlikely is MMM’s view for these are the people who belong to the fringes of society. And so how does the Corporation aim to protect public walls from them? Secondly, do those people who commission these posters pay any taxes? That too is highly debatable. The biggest offenders are the political variety, and these are largely men and women from outstation who spend money on posters and cutouts featuring their city-based political top bosses. The posters of the film industry closely follow these. There again, taxes are a sensitive subject. Next come the posters featuring the dear departed. These posters, depicting two weeping eyes around a photo of the deceased, are again sensitive subjects. MMM expects those who order print runs on this theme to be so grief stricken that taxes are perhaps the last topic on their minds. MMM however is not so sure of those posters that are put up to commemorate the first (and second and third and so on) anniversary of the deceased.
A new variety of offenders is the Sabha or classical music organisation. MMM is rather puzzled as to what joy the secretary of a Sabha gets by putting up posters of artistes which are then chewed by our four-legged brethren or urinated upon by the two-legged variety. But this is a recent trend. MMM doubts if tax is a relevant topic in this industry too. It is notorious for low fees at least on paper by which MMM does not mean poster paper.
What of the media which rightfully speaking ought to be leading the battle against posters? MMM is certain that the various publishing houses of the city definitely pay their taxes but when it comes to putting up posters their record is not particularly edifying. The latest issues of the vernacular magazines in particular are widely advertised by means of posters and these are to be found everywhere.
Lastly, by putting up this signboard, is the Corporation stating that public property alone is to be spared of posters and private walls can be used with impunity? That is a matter to ponder over. But having said all that, MMM is of the view that the latest signs are very much an improvement on the old ‘Stick No Bills’ or ‘Those Pasting Posters will be Prosecuted’.