Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Illegal Hoardings A Crying Shame For Mumbai

Ghatkopar Hoarding Collapse: Illegal Hoardings A Crying Shame For Mumbai

In 2022, this newspaper had undertaken a drive against illegal hoardings; had BMC taken action, Ghatkopar hoarding tragedy could have been prevented

S BalakrishnanUpdated: Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 08:00 AM IST
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Emergency services personnel at the spot after a huge iron hoarding collapsed on a petrol pump due to strong winds and heavy rain, at Ghatkopar in Mumbai, Monday, May 13, 2024. | PTI

Mumbai: In September 2022, the Free Press Journal (FPJ) had started a campaign against illegal hoardings, which were posing a grave threat to Mumbaikars. At that time, the BMC officials had assured us that they would take action against such illegal boards. However, they did zilch. Had they been true to their promise, Monday's hoarding tragedy at Ghatkopar (East) would have been averted.

The FPJ had published photographs of several illegal hoardings, which were threatening to fall on railway tracks and other places. Take for instance, the slew of hoardings erected cheek by jowl along the railway tracks between Bandra and Mahim. They are much bigger than the 40'x40' space permitted by the BMC. Yet no action was taken.

In Chembur, there are large hoardings just above the BMC's main water pipes straddling the Tembe bridge. If they collapse, water supply to Chembur and other suburbs is certain to be disrupted. Citizens have complained to the BMC, but then who cares?

More recently, massive hoardings have come up on either side of the BKC connector road and they pose a huge risk to motorists. At the Suman Nagar junction on the Eastern Express Highway, a new traffic hazard has come up in the form of brightly-lit digital hoards. They not only adversely impact the eyes of motorists but also detract them. Complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Several landlords and cooperative housing societies have given permission to hoarding contractors to erect hoardings on their terraces without having stability certificates.

A few years ago, the BMC came up with a brilliant idea to let anyone, who spots a vantage point, erect a hoarding by paying requisite fees to the civic body. This resulted in a rash of hoardings springing up all over the city and suburbs.

What is worse is that several contractors either axe or poison trees which block the view of their hoardings. A city-based doctor Dr Anahita Pundole had to file a PIL in the Bombay High Court to stop this practice and also remove unsightly hoardings from public gardens; like the one at Charni Road. The court passed a series of orders. Had the BMC implemented these orders sincerely, Mumbai would not have been exposed to the hoarding menace.

In the wake of the Ghatkopar hoarding tragedy, the FPJ has decided to revive its campaign against illegal hoardings. If you come across any of them, please e-mail details to fpjreaderreporter@gmail.com.

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