Chennai is not a pretty city. There are parts that have a charm, but on the whole, it's a lot of crumbling sidewalks, walls plastered with posters, and massive billboards lining every street.
It would seem someone got their knickers in a twist recently, because some the hoardings, pardon me... billboards, are coming down. Over 4000 of them. They are the ones that are "unauthorized or unlicensed or billboards that obstructed visibility or posed a hazard." And a hazard they are. They block buildings and they take up 1/2 of sidewalks with their scaffolding. Apparently they are also distracting for drivers whenever a new one goes up. And I have to admit that over the past few weeks I've muttered to myself and pretty much anyone else sitting in the car with me, that the city would look so much better without the billboards literally stacked on top of each other into the sky. One building I counted had 15 signs on it, from the mere 4 footers to the 20 foot long monstrosity. Of course others in the city are quite a bit bigger, but buildings can only handle so much dead weight. The next step would be to scrub the buildings exteriors because some of the architecture here is quite lovely, but it's not easy to see with the layers of grime from neglect. Now that they're better exposed, will anyone notice? Or more to the point, care?
Now, I'm not sure what's going to happen with these removals. I have a feeling they'll grow back over time. But for now, it's a nice change.
The Hindu - article on hoardings - 4/10/08
The Hindu - article on hoardings - 4/11/08