Mumbai: BMC Files Affidavit Before SHRC On Illegal Hoardings Case, Details Lack Of Action By GR

Mumbai: BMC Files Affidavit Before SHRC On Illegal Hoardings Case, Details Lack Of Action By GR

BMC in its 13 paged affidavit said that the permissions for the erection of the alleged illegal hoarding which killed 17, were granted by the GRP and Commissioner of Police, Railways.

Pranali LotlikarUpdated: Thursday, June 27, 2024, 11:43 PM IST
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Mumbai: BMC Files Affidavit Before SHRC On Illegal Hoardings Case, Details Lack Of Action By GR | File Photo

Mumbai: The BMC on Thursday filed a detailed affidavit before the State Human Rights Commission(SHRC) explaining of how time and again it had reminded the Government Railway Police (GRP) of the illegal hoardings, but there was no action initiated by them. BMC in its 13 paged affidavit said that the permissions for the erection of the alleged illegal hoarding which killed 17, were granted by the GRP and Commissioner of Police, Railways.

A complaint about Ghatkoper’s illegal hoarding’s collapse case was filed before the SHRC, by advocate Amit Dubey, a city based lawyer, against the civic authorities, the police and the railway police, alleging their fault in allowing the illegal hoarding to stay in the city. Following the complaint, a division bench presided over by Justice K.K.Tated and M.A. Sayeed had asked the authorities to file their say.

Following the query raised by the commission about the confusion which was floating as to who granted permission to EGO media for erecting the hoarding on the land (owned by the Home department police head quarters), BMC gave a detailed reply, explaining each and every notice which it had issued to the GRP concerning over the said hoarding. It says that BMC had not granted any permission to the company (Ego-Media)to erect the hoarding,and that neither a permission was ever sort from the Bmc for erecting the same.

BMC said that it has never approved for a bigger boarding ever, “It is important to note that the maximum hoarding size which is permitted is 40 x 40‘,“reads the affidavit.

Explaining of how the BMC does not own any onus, it explained of the series of communication’s which the BMC had with the railways about the hoardings. “On a routine inspection dated April 8,2022, which was conducted by the officer of N-Ward, on the Ghatkopar Eastern express Highway (GRP ground), the officer found erection of three holdings in the progress. Thereafter, senior inspector (license ) N ward had issued a notice dated April 11, 2022 to the Commissioner of GRP Mumbai informing about the same and had asked the GRP to produce valid permit order, if any issued by competent authority. The notice had also warned that in absence of valid permission, action would be to be initiated,” read the affidavit.

Following the notice, the GRP commissioner had replied to the same, dated April 19,2022, which said that the GRP was covered under the Head of Railway as defined under Railway Act, and that the government police headquarters at Ghatkopar East was a railway area and the Collector Mumbai in its office order dated September 30, 2004 had clearly specified the said area for railway headquarters.

Commissioner of GRP had thus asked the BMC to withdraw its notice, quoting the Bombay High Court’s decision, passed in 2017, which specified the railway’s area is not a part of the MCGM Act and therefore matters relating to taxation, including the question of imposition of fee/tax on various hoardings erected in Railway area was impermissible. Following this, the BMC had withdrawn its notice in 2022.

BMC said that post that, on April 20,2023 BMC had received a complaint regarding illegal hoarding hence another letter was again issued by BMC to the Commissioner of GRP asking for documents in relation to the land in order to ascertain the GRP’s claim for said land. Further various complaints were received by the BMC concerning illegal tree cutting tree poisoning by advertisement company, and accordingly action was proposed to be taken.

Following the complaint’s the BMC on 30 April 2024, just 14 days prior to the collapse, a meeting was held in BMC to consider the said issue, and hence on May 2, 2024 a notice was issued by assistant commissioner N- Ward, on the instructions of the Municipal Commissioner’s directions, to the Assistant Commissioner Police, Railways, informing about several complaints received and registered. “The complaint’s were regarding cutting of trees against advertiser company. The notice also said that the permission which was given to the accused company, Ego media, was to be directed to be cancelled and hoardings were directed to be removed and further action was to be taken against the Ego Media. It was further learnt on May 13th that the accused advertisement company had erected four unauthorised hoardings back-to-back and that they were erected on the plots without BMC’s permission."

“BMC had also levied a cost of Rs 6,13,84,464 on the accused company towards license fee and penalty and had asked to remove the unauthorised hoardings. BMC in its notice to the Ego media had warned that if it fails to comply with its order within a period of 10 days, then the license which is already granted to the company in respect of hoardings erected by them in all the 24 wards of Bmc will stand revoked,”reads the affidavit.

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