MUMBAI: Former BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said that he will approach the high court seeking financial relief for the family members of the 17 deceased who lost their lives in a hoarding crash at Ghatkopar. He also demanded the arrest of then GRP Commissioner Quaiser Khalid in the case alleging that he granted illegal hoarding permission to Ego Media Pvt.
Somaiya organized a press conference along with the victims’ families at his office in Mulund on Saturday. He stated that the incident occurred because the earlier state government permitted a petrol pump and hoarding on the plot at Ghatkopar. Therefore, he argued, the government should take responsibility for compensating the families of the deceased who died due to illegally constructed hoarding, and he will be approaching the Bombay High Court in the coming days.
In its records, the GRP maintained two structural stability reports for the collapsed hoarding: one undated on permissible limit size and another dated with a different and illegal bigger (around actual) size. Somaiya mentioned that he met with the DGP of Maharashtra Police and the Home Minister, expressing his dissatisfaction over the action of the police SIT, as they are not taking any action against the concerned GRP officials responsible for granting hoarding permission illegally. He stated, “Quaiser Khalid granted permission for the hoarding even after noting on the file with his signature stating that ‘ACP admin looks unhappy to sign this’. Khalid should be arrested in the case. The SIT is also not acting against the daughter of Bhinde, who is the biggest shareholder in the company.”
The police had arrested Bhavesh Bhinde of hoarding company Ego Media Pvt and BMC-approved structural consultant Manoj Sanghu in the case. Sanghu had issued two structural stability reports that GRP mentioned in its record for the same hoarding.
Somaiya said that instead of five hoardings, the GRP allowed 28 hoardings at Dadar and Ghatkopar illegally to Bhinde. Similarly, around 60 illegal hoardings constructed on MHADA sites should also be investigated.
The hoarding was constructed on state government land that was reserved for railway police housing and open spaces under the development plan (DP). Upon the railway police’s request, the BMC allowed a petrol pump on a portion of the plot.
Subsequently, the BMC issued a show-cause notice to the railway police for allowing the hoarding on the plot without its permission. The GRP Commissioner Quaiser Khalid wrote an official permission letter on July 7, 2022, to Ego Media Pvt Ltd, stating that the company was given permission to erect the hoarding on a lease of 10 years. He further added that since Ego Media had spent more money to construct an RCC foundation for the hoarding, he accepted the company’s request and extended the lease period to 30 years.