Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Bhavesh Bhinde Might Have Had 'Monopoly' With GRP; Crime Branch Forms SIT To Probe

Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Bhavesh Bhinde Might Have Had 'Monopoly' With GRP; Crime Branch Forms SIT To Probe

Sources say that GRP preferred billboard Bhinde for hoarding contracts; either through tender or without it.

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Thursday, May 23, 2024, 01:09 AM IST
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Mumbai Police’s Crime Branch has now formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe into the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse incident that took place on May 13 claiming 17 lives. Police sources revealed that Bhavesh Prabhudas Bhinde (51), the owner of the hoarding under his company Ego Media Private Limited, had a ‘monopoly’ within the Government Railway Police (GRP) officials who preferred to give him the contract of the hoarding with and without the tender procedure as per the protocols.

The orders of the SIT were issued by the Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Crime Branch Lakhmi Gautam on Tuesday. The Unit 7 of the Crime Branch will be investigating the case led by SI Mahesh Taware, under the supervision of DCP Vishal Thakur (detection).

Bhinde was remanded to police custody by the magistrate court till May 26. Soon after his custody, police started to interrogate Bhinde and even summoned some of his employees and ex-employees working at Ego Media Private Limited - to know about the procedure that took place in the company while it received the NOC from the GRP to acquire the contract and NOC for the hoarding.

The SIT has conducted multiple search operations at Bhinde’s house and office - located in Mulund - that led to seizing cash and documents related to the hoarding contract, said officials.

Officials added that Bhinde had more than seven bank accounts. Police are now coordinating with the banks to find out more about the transactions.

As per police sources, Bhinde owns several hoardings in the city, and each hoarding costs up to crores. They are trying to find out the source of the fundings Bhinde and his company received.

A police source added that at the spot of the hoarding collapse, there were three more hoardings - all owned by Ego Media. Now, the speculation is that Bhinde had put the tender for those three hoardings but the one that collapsed, which didn’t fit the norms for approval, was not done as per the protocols by the GRP. “GRP officials present during that time of approval will be summoned. We have some documents that we got from the accused’s home, which will be cross-verified with the GRP officials to check the authenticity of the tender, contract and NOC,” said a police source.

Police have also roped in Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) to assess the installation of hoardings and whether it was as per the norms.The hoarding, which collapsed during the dust storm, rains and heavy winds on May 13, was placed near a petrol pump at Ghatkopar across the Eastern Express Highway, which collapsed on 100s of people waiting at the petrol pump or taking shelter from the heavy rains. The hoarding was deemed illegal by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) as the size of any hoardings should be 40x40 feet, while this hoarding was 120x120 feet.

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