May 18, 2024

Mumbai enclosure collapse: BMC looks at approved enclosures too, seeks structural audit | Mumbai News


Following a deadly billboard collapse in Ghatkopar that left 16 people dead and 75 injured, the Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has stepped up its policing of permitted billboards in the city. Besides removing unauthorized billboards, ward-level offices have started issuing notices directing them to conduct structural audits of legitimate billboards in their wards, as per the guidelines outlined in the BMC's 2008 document 'Guidelines for permission to post advertisements and similar billboards'.

Earlier this week, after BMC officials called for strict action against unauthorised signboards, the civic body acted swiftly and started removing illegal signboards found violating civic norms. Even as the search operation for the victims was on, the BMC had begun removing two signboards in Malad that had been erected without civic permission and three other unauthorised signboards near the accident site.

According to a senior civic official, the BMC is now looking at sanctioned enclosures in the city and ward offices have asked owners and agencies to carry out structural audits of the enclosures.

Manish Varange, deputy municipal commissioner for K/East ward, which has the highest number of fencing boards in the city, told The Indian Express that in addition to examining the structural audit report submitted by engineers, they will also carry out their own visual inspection.

“Each ward maintains a list of sanctioned enclosures in its jurisdiction. Though there are no illegal enclosures, we have issued notices to all sanctioned enclosure owners in the ward and asked them to submit a structural audit report. The audit report will be prepared by a certified structural engineer, but we will also carry out a visual inspection ourselves. This inspection will be carried out after submission of the structural audit report, around the time most of the BMC officials return from election duty,” Varanga said.

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Sanjay Jadhav, Lieutenant Municipal Commissioner (P/South), told The Indian Express, “We have issued notices to carry out a structural audit of all sanctioned enclosures and checked them for any illegal enclosures. We found no unsanctioned enclosures and all were as per the size norm of 40ft x 40ft. Meanwhile, we have started removal of one enclosure whose contract has expired.”

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Mumbai has 1,025 sanctioned billboards, of which 573 are non-illuminated, 382 are illuminated and 70 are LED billboards. These billboards generated a revenue of Rs 100 crore last year.

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As per civic body rules for city signage, private contractors will be issued licences by the BMC for a period of two years, after which renewal will be subject to submission of a fresh structural audit report conducted by a private engineering firm registered or enrolled with the BMC.

However, so far, a senior official from the licensing department told The Indian Express that the BMC has not revoked the licence of any fencing installer for non-compliance or flouting of rules. “We don't revoke licences outright. Instead, licensed fencing installers have to undergo a structural audit by an accredited agency every two years. If the BMC finds any issues in this audit, we recommend corrective measures,” the senior official explained.

Following the Ghatkopar signboard incident, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde visited the accident site and directed the civic commissioner to conduct a structural audit of all signboards in Mumbai. Following this, BMC Commissioner Bhushan Gaglani on Tuesday instructed all ward officials to identify all signboards in their wards and remove those found to be illegal.

© Indian Express Ltd.

First uploaded on: May 18, 2024 00:47 IST


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