‘Shifting Responsibility’, Panel Asks BMC, Police To Hold Inquiry

‘Shifting Responsibility’, Panel Asks BMC, Police To Hold Inquiry

The commission was acting on a complaint filed by an advocate alleging the collusion of various authorities in allowing the illegal hoarding to be erected.

Pranali LotlikarUpdated: Friday, May 17, 2024, 02:37 AM IST
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BMC | File pic

Mumbai: Observing that several departments are shifting their responsibilities on each other in the Ghatkopar billboard collapse case, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Thursday directed the BMC, the Mumbai police, the Government Railway Police and the Ministry of Home Affairs to hold a fact-finding inquiry and submit an affidavit about the same.

The commission was acting on a complaint filed by an advocate alleging the collusion of various authorities in allowing the illegal hoarding to be erected.

On December 2, 2022, the BMC had issued a circular limiting the size of hoardings to 40x40 square feet, Amit Dubey said in his complaint. “However, M/s Ego Media Private Limited was allowed to erect a 120x120 square foot billboard, which in January 2024 was published in the Limca Book of Records to be one of the tallest one,” the advocate said.

“It is surprising that a hoarding of 120x120 feet was right in the centre of Mumbai city, but the commissioner kept his eyes closed... such an illegality would not have been possible without the collusion of authorities. The illegal alliance between the owner of the hoarding and the authorities needs to be independently investigated before the authorities sweep the incident under the carpet as soon as the public attention wanes,” he said.

“Bare reading of the complaint shows that all the departments are shifting their responsibilities on each other… Except the concerned departments everybody could see the unauthorised hoarding in the city,” the commission, presided by division bench of Justices KK Tated and MA Sayeed, said in its order.

The commission also maintained that even though several complaints were made about the hoardings, the authorities turned a blind eye to them. “It is surprising that in spite of having knowledge, the corporation [as well as the police authorities] failed and neglected to take action against the accused,” the panel said.

The SHRC thus summonsed the concerned authorities to hold an inquiry and submit an affidavit in reply before June 6.

As per the commission’s order, the affidavit should answer the following questions: In how many cases has the corporation issued permission for constructing or raising of the hoarding sites? Has any procedure check been done of the site? Was any illegality about the hoarding been informed by the beat marshal to the corporation between January 2023 and May 2024? How many hoardings has the corporation allowed to raise / construct during the said period?.

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