May 14, 2024

Structural audit ordered across Mumbai Metropolitan Region

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Ghatkopar hoard collapse: Structural audit ordered across Mumbai Metropolitan Region | PTI

MUMBAI: It took 14 deaths and countless injuries for the BMC to announce action against all fencing installed without authorization.A huge fencing fell on a petrol pump in Ghatkopar on Monday evening but no action had been taken so far due to an ongoing row between the BMC and the Government Railway Police (GRP), officials said.

BMC chairman Bhushan Gagrani on Tuesday said the drive will begin with the removal of three remaining fencing boards on GRP land in Ghatkopar, while Chief Minister Eknath Shinde has also given instructions to the civic body.

Meanwhile, Thane, Navi Mumbai and twin city Mira Bhayandar have separately issued notices to signboard owners to carry out audits of their structures to avoid such incidents.

In Karin, councillor Vishwanath Bhoyle has asked the Karin-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) to ensure that a structural audit of the fencing boards is carried out. In response, KDMC Deputy Municipal Commissioner Dairyashir Jadhav said, “Permission has been given to 182 legal fencing boards so far. They have now been asked to undergo a structural audit and submit a report within 15 days.” Jadhav said the civic body does not have a list of illegal fencing boards in the area as of now, but will conduct a survey soon.

Pained by the Ghatkopar tragedy, Boyle said the BMC's asset management wing should have paid attention to whether a structural audit was carried out. “The asset management wing should have checked the condition of the enclosure. This is not a natural disaster but human negligence,” he said and urged KDMC Commissioner Indurani Jakhar to ensure that the same incident does not happen again in her jurisdiction.

While the BMC and its peers in other parts of Mumbai Metropolitan Region were woken from their slumber, the Mira Bhayandar Municipal Corporation (MBMC) maintained that it has already taken steps to avert such tragedies.

MBMC chief Sanjay Katkar said they have already removed the old fencing boards from public places, adding that owners of fencing boards installed on private land were issued notices on April 25 to submit structural stability certificates within 15 days, failing which their structures will be demolished after May 18.

“We are already being very cautious in issuing new permissions and new enclosures are being set up in suitable locations on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis, adhering to safety norms,” ‚Äč‚ÄčKatkar said.

According to MBMC officials, the civic body has leased out 166 billboards, of which 110 are 20 ft x 20 ft. Besides, 57 mega billboards have been installed on private land. However, after a billboard collapsed in Pune's Pimpri Chinchwad area in April last year, the MBMC took action seeking structural stability certificates for billboards installed on private land.

“All the fencing boards rented by MBMC have been removed, but we are regularly checking the stability certificates. Several private owners who are yet to submit their updated stability certificates will be disciplined,” said an official from MBMC's advertising department.

The Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) will also initiate strict action and remove all illegal crime prevention signboards and seek a structural audit of other crime prevention signboards.

NMMC Commissioner Kailash Shinde, who met the stakeholders on Tuesday, said that fortunately, no untoward incident has been reported in Navi Mumbai after Monday's dust storm. He also demanded a structural audit of all enclosures by May 15 and submit the report to the licensing department, adding that punitive action would be taken if this was not complied with.

An NMMC official, on condition of anonymity, said the licensing department sends letters to officials of each ward office every month to inform the department if any illegal signboards are erected in their areas. “We have a list of licensed advertisers and all illegal structures are removed immediately,” the official said, adding that the department also conducts structural audits on a regular basis. The official said a penalty of Rs 4.2 million was recently collected from advertisers who flouted the rules and did not submit certificates regarding the stability of their structures.

However, Navi Mumbai's Congress Party spokesman and former city councillor Ravindra Sawant said huge fencing panels have been seen all over Palm Beach Road and there is a risk of a similar disaster to that in Mumbai. Sawant demanded a structural audit of the fencing panels in satellite images and said the NMMC should also carry out a thorough inspection of housing societies. “Large fencing panels have been erected on high-rise buildings as well and they should be checked,” he said.

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