Mum hoarding toll 14, hunt forad agency boss | India News

MUMBAI: The toll in the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse climbed to 14 on Tuesday, with 74 persons injured. The numbers were expected to rise further since the rescue operations were still under way. Pant Nagar police have booked Bhavesh Bhinde, director of advertisement agency Ego Media Pvt Ltd that had erected the hoarding, and three of its unknown directors under various sections of IPC.
Ad agency boss on run, skipped soil check, audit
Pant Nagar police have booked Bhavesh Bhinde, director of ad agency Ego Media Pvt Ltd that had erected the hoarding, and three of its unknown directors under various sections of IPC for causing death due to negligence, causing hurt by rash and negligent acts, and causing mischief and damage.
Preliminary investigations by BMC and the railways revealed that Bhinde had illegally erected the giant 120×120 sqft hoarding without permission.
The company had also failed to follow standard operating procedures for soil checks and structural audits of the pillars.
“In erecting such huge pillars, they have to dig the foundation as per the ratio of its height. For example, a general guideline suggests that the foundation depth for a three-story building should be around one-third to half of the total building height. This range helps distribute the weight of the structure and counteract potential settling or instability in the soil,” said a police official.
Police have asked BMC and the railways to provide documents related to the collapsed hoarding. They are also likely to question Government Railway Police (GRP) officials about granting permission to Bhinde’s company despite it being blacklisted in 2018.
Bhinde had changed his company’s name from Gujju Advertisements to Ego Media and secured the contract from the railways again. Police are investigating whether railway officials were aware of this or ignored it.
Several police teams, including the crime branch, are searching for Bhinde, who has gone missing, with his mobile phone switched off. Sources revealed that Bhinde had stated in a 2009 affidavit that there were 23 offences registered against him, including cases under Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act and Negotiable Instruments Act for issues like cheque bouncing, securing multiple contracts for hoardings and banners, and alleged violations of BMC and railways’ rules. Last year, he was arrested by Mulund police on charges of molestation and rape after a staffer alleged sexual exploitation. That case is pending trial.
Officials from NDRF, which continued to lead the rescue operations on Tuesday, said that no person alive had been pulled out of the collapsed structure after 7pm on Monday, and nine bodies were removed by 3am. Most of the victims were found in the driver’s seats of vehicles, including taxis, Toyota Innova and Swift.
The rescue teams used various tools and equipment to lift the roofs and cut through vehicles to remove the bodies. NDRF expects the operations to continue till Wednesday morning, after which BMC and other agencies will clear the remaining parts of the structure. Various agencies, including the Mumbai fire brigade, MMRDA and BMC, are participating in the relief operations. The site has also witnessed visits from various politicians, including Mumbai suburban guardian minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha.

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