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May 14, 2024

Mumbai Hoarding Collapse: 14 Dead, BMC and Railways Exchange Blame

In a tragic incident in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar, at least 14 people lost their lives and 74 were injured when a 100-foot-tall illegal billboard collapsed during a dust storm and heavy rain on Monday evening. The billboard, which had not received approval from local authorities, toppled over a petrol pump at Cheddanagar Junction, causing significant destruction and trapping several individuals beneath the wreckage.

A 30-second video capturing the catastrophic moment shows the massive structure falling over the petrol pump area, leading to a chaotic scene as people tried to escape the falling debris.

Legal Actions and Accountability

The Mumbai police swiftly responded by filing a case against the ad agency responsible for the billboard. Bhavesh Bhinde, the owner of M/s Ego Media Private Limited, along with others, has been booked under charges including culpable homicide not amounting to murder, as per the Indian Penal Code.

Official Responses and Assurances

1. Mumbai Police Commissioner Pledges Strict Action Mumbai Police Commissioner Vivek Phansalkar took to social media to express his condolences and assure the public of stringent legal action against those responsible. “Heartfelt condolences to families who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate mishap at Ghatkopar. The Mumbai Police team is on the spot in the rescue operation. We assure citizens that stringent legal action will be taken against those responsible for this mishap,” Phansalkar posted.

2. CM Eknath Shinde Orders Structural Audits Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited the site and announced a thorough investigation. He emphasized the urgency of conducting structural audits on all hoardings in Mumbai, promising immediate removal of any found to be illegal or hazardous. Shinde also announced a financial aid of Rs 5 lakh for the families of each victim.

3. Medical Treatment for the Injured Those injured in the incident are being treated at various hospitals across the city, including Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar, HBT hospital, Vikhroli’s Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Hospital, and Kalwa’s Prakruti Hospital.

Blame Game: BMC vs. Railways

The incident has triggered a blame game between the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the Indian Railways regarding the ownership of the land where the billboard was erected.

4. BMC Claims the Billboard Was Illegal BMC commissioner Bhushan Gagrani declared the hoarding illegal, stating it had not been approved by the civic body. He pointed out that the location of the incident had four hoardings set up on railway land, with one of them collapsing.

5. BMC to File Complaint Against Railways and Ad Agency A BMC spokesperson announced that a complaint would be filed against the Railways and Ego Media for violating the Disaster Management Act. This action is intended to hold both parties accountable for the injuries and fatalities caused by the hoarding collapse.

6. Railways Deny Land Ownership In response, the Railways denied any connection to the land in question, asserting that the hoarding was not situated on their property. Their statement on social media read, “This hoarding is not on Railway land and it is not in any way related to Indian Railways.”

7. Notice Issued to Advertisement Agency Post-incident, the BMC issued a notice to the advertisement agency, demanding the immediate removal of the remaining three hoardings near the site to prevent further hazards.

Additional Damages from Unseasonal Rains

8. Collapse of Under-Construction Structure in Wadala The unseasonal rains and accompanying dust storm also caused the collapse of an under-construction metal parking tower in Wadala. This incident resulted in injuries to three individuals and damage to eight to ten vehicles parked nearby. An official inquiry is underway, and legal actions are being considered.

The aftermath of the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse highlights the need for stricter regulations and enforcement regarding the installation of billboards and other structures in urban areas, particularly those deemed illegal and unsafe. The tragedy has sparked a broader conversation on public safety and accountability among civic authorities and private entities in Mumbai.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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