After 14 deaths, axe to fall on illegal hoardings dotting Mumbai

Mumbai: A day after a gigantic hoarding, measuring 120×120 or 14,400 square feet crashed killing at least 14 persons, the Mumbai Suburban District Disaster Management Authority (MSDDMA) has decided to wield the axe on all illegal hoardings that violate various norms, an official said.

As per the MSDDMA orders issued late on May 13, the concerned local authorities have been ordered to raze three other huge hoardings in the vicinity of the monster hoarding, owned by one Bhavesh Bhinde of EGO Media Co., that suddenly tumbled in the heavy winds and dust-storm.

Simultaneously, Mumbai’s Pant Nagar Police Station has lodged a complaint against Bhinde invoking charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

Bhinde has been reportedly absconding since Monday night and police have started a probe into the incident.

As per some reports, the EGP Media Co. was earlier “blacklisted” by the Central Railway (CR) and it is not clear how the firm was allowed to erect the mammoth hoarding, billed as the biggest in Mumbai, and commanding a huge hiring price from the advertisers.

The hoarding, weighing hundreds of kilos along with the supporting metal rods and girders, got uprooted in barely seconds in the squally winds, and crushed several homes and a petrol pump in Pant Nagar area of Ghatkopar east, with the current casualties standing at 14 deaths, plus 88 injured and around 60 more rescued.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official said that the civic body is scrutinising its records to ascertain the exact number of mega-hoardings that flout the norms and bring them down immediately.

As per the norms, considering the Mumbai skyline and other aspects – like the location, height from the ground, other structures in the vicinity, the material it is made of, etc. – the hoarding size permitted is 40×40 feet (1,600 sq.feet), explained the official.

The permission for the hoarding was allegedly given by the then Railway Police chief Quaiser Khalid, and the Bharatiya Janata Party has alleged that the accused Bhinde is reportedly linked with the opposition Shiv Sena (UBT) leaders.

Last evening, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited the tragedy site and ordered the BrihanMumbai Corporation and Mumbai Police to thoroughly investigate the incident, carry out a special audit of all illegal hoardings across the city and take remedial measures.

The CM also announced a compensation of Rs 5 Lakh for the kin of each deceased victim and free medical treatment for the injured undergoing treatment in various hospitals, many with serious bruises and bone injuries.

IANS

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