Ghatkopar Billboard Tragedy Raises Concerns, GRP Initiates Inquiry

Ghatkopar Billboard Tragedy Raises Concerns, GRP Initiates Inquiry

The FPJ obtained a copy of the permission granted by the GRP to Media Ego Private Limited for erecting the billboard. The letter specifies that Media Ego Private Limited is solely responsible for the structural integrity of the display board and must maintain it in good condition.

Megha KuchikUpdated: Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 11:24 PM IST
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Rescue and relief work underway at the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse site at the petrol pump | Vijay Gohil

Mumbai: A ten-year permission  for the ill-fated hoarding at Ghatkopar (east), which claimed 14 lives by falling on a petrol pump on Monday, was granted by IPS officer Quaiser Khalid when he was the railway police commissioner. This was confirmed by an official of the Government Railway Police (GRP), on whose land the hoarding was erected.

The Bharat Petroleum pump is also operated since October 12, 2021  by the GRP and the income from it is being used for police welfare activities. When contacted, Khalid said cryptically, "I am no more connected with the GRP. The local officials are handling the matter."

The FPJ obtained a copy of the permission granted by the GRP to Media Ego Private Limited for erecting the billboard. The letter specifies that Media Ego Private Limited is solely responsible for the structural integrity of the display board and must maintain it in good condition.

The company will be liable for any loss or damage resulting from negligence, particularly considering the area's climate conditions. Moreover, the letter states that in the event of a pandemic, earthquake, or other acts of God leading to the demolition or temporary non-use of the billboard, the company may request a waiver of rent for the duration until the billboard is used again. 

At that time the permission letter was signed by Railway Admin Assistant Commissioner of Police Shahaji Nikam on behalf of the Railway Commissioner of Police.

The fatal mistake that the GRP did was leaving the structural stability of the billboard to the company. "It should have insisted on the ad agency obtaining an independent structural stability certificate from an empannelled engineer," an official added. 

A few days before the tragedy, the GRP received a directive from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to remove the billboards following complaints of tree poisoning for its installation. Although the GRP had begun removing billboards in response to the BMC's directive, the specific incident occurred before the removal of this particular billboard.

Additionally, the GRP clarified that the BMC had issued a notice and fines based on misinformation. However, the GRP has initiated a thorough inquiry into the matter, emphasizing its seriousness.

Meanwhile, Mumbai police commissioner Vivek Phansalkar, expressed his condolences to the families affected by the tragic incident in Ghatkopar, assuring the public that the Mumbai Police is actively involved in rescue operations and will take stringent legal action against those accountable for the mishap.

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