Ghatkopar Billboard Tragedy: Pune Residents Demand Stricter Safety Policy Against Hoardings From PMC

Ghatkopar Billboard Tragedy: Pune Residents Demand Stricter Safety Policy Against Hoardings From PMC

Ghatkopar Billboard Tragedy: Pune Residents Demand Stricter Safety Policy Against Hoardings From PMC

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Authorities under scrutiny after Ghatkopar disaster; residents call for stricter regulations and oversight on hoardings.

14 May 2024

By Payoshi Bisht 

At least 14 people lost their lives and 75 others sustained injuries following the collapse of a colossal billboard in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar area on Monday evening amid heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. The massive hoarding toppled onto a petrol pump, complicating rescue operations for excavators tasked with navigating through the debris.

31 people have been discharged from hospitals, while medical treatment continues for the remaining 44. This calamity echoes a similar tragedy from April last year, wherein five individuals were fatally crushed under an iron hoarding in Pune’s Pimpri Chinchwad township during strong winds.

Maithily Manakwad, secretary of the Wanowrie Residents Forum, stated, “The recent tragic incident in Mumbai’s Ghatkopar reveals the lack of concern of the corporation towards the citizens. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive audit of all hoardings across the city. It seems that many of these structures are built illegally, posing significant risks to public safety. Immediate action must be taken to rectify this situation. The authorities should show transparency about the process. Strategic locations should be identified where hoardings can be safely installed, with strict adherence to regulations regarding height, weight and age of the structures.”

She added that there must be accountability measures put in place to ensure the agencies responsible are held liable for the maintenance and upkeep of hoardings, and suggested displaying the telephone number of the owning agency on each hoarding, as it will facilitate citizen reporting and ensure prompt action regarding any concerns.

Viman Nagar resident Aarti Sonigra expressed her disappointment at the incident, saying, “It’s unfortunate what happened in Ghatkopar. My brother who resides in Ghatkopar informed me about the accident. The authorities need to be more responsible and they shouldn’t allow these hoardings without proper permission. It’s all about money for them. The BMC and PMC should be maintaining these structures properly. They give permission without ensuring any responsibility and they don’t even bother to check the quality of these hoardings. No wonder they collapse like this.”

Ganesh Gaware, Vice President of the Kalyani Nagar Residents Association, commented, “First of all, hoarding should be completely stopped because such incidents are happening frequently. All the people are angry about the hoarding and whoever is holding the hoarding earns money but the common people die under it. So I say the government should be strict on this.”

Ameya Jagtap, a committee member of Balewadi Welfare Federation stated, “They really need to take this incident seriously. Requiring a compulsory audit report every six months is essential. The authorities should tighten their policies, especially considering how new hoardings seem to pop up every day. There should be limitations on the number of hoardings in certain areas, especially around bus stops, places where people gather or crowd. Placement needs to be carefully considered to prevent accidents like this from happening again. How many more accidents are we going to wait for before they take action?”

Following the incident, the PMC Commissioner has instructed a comprehensive audit of all hoardings within the city. According to the Commissioner, there are a total of 2500 hoardings present. In case any hoarding is discovered to be unauthorised, measures have been mandated to revoke the licence of the responsible entity. 

Furthermore, the PMC Commissioner has disclosed that the city currently hosts 2598 authorised hoardings. Of these, audits have already been conducted for 2300 hoardings. However, Madhav Jagtap, Deputy Commissioner PMC, was not available to comment on the incident.