Highway billboards with PM, Sonia photos to be removed


New Delhi: The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will remove from national highways billboards that have photographs of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a reply to an application under the Right to Information (RTI) has revealed.

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The NHAI had decided to put up nearly 1,500 billboards – one every 25 km – with photographs of the two.

However, the plan ran into a controversy when the Prime Minister’ Office (PMO), in reply to an application filed by RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, denied it gave any permission for using the prime minister’s photographs. Sonia Gandhi too asked the NHAI not to use her photograph.

In reply to another RTI application filed by Agrawal March 30, the NHAI said: “NHAI has written a letter to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, wherein it was proposed not to provide display boards with photographs of Singh and Gandhi in view of the letter from the PMO wherein it has been directed not to use his photographs without specific approval of the PMO.”

“The display boards already erected will either be removed or the photographs of prime minister and Sonia Gandhi will be replaced with the photographs of projects or facilities,” the reply added.

Earlier, the PMO had asked the cabinet secretary to direct all ministries and government departments not to use the prime minister’s photograph without approval.

“The union government should ban photo publicity of living personalities, including all political rulers both in the centre and the states immediately, either at government expenses or government responses,” Agrawal told IANS.