Ghatkopar hoarding collapse: Ex-director and contractor remanded to custody till June 15 | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Ghatkopar hoarding collapse: Ex-director and contractor remanded to custody till June 15

ByManish K Pathak
Jun 10, 2024 07:10 AM IST

Janhavi Marathe and Sagar Kumbhar, arrested in connection with the Ghatkopar billboard collapse, have been remanded to police custody till June 15 by an Esplanade court. The collapse, which occurred on May 13, resulted in 17 deaths

Mumbai: Janhavi Marathe and Sagar Kumbhar, arrested in connection with the Ghatkopar billboard collapse, have been remanded to police custody till June 15 by an Esplanade court. The collapse, which occurred on May 13, resulted in 17 deaths.

HT Image
HT Image

Marathe, previously a director at Ego Media Pvt Ltd, and Kumbhar, a contractor associated with the hoarding’s erection, were arrested in Goa by the Mumbai Crime Branch’s Special Investigation Team (SIT). Ego Media Pvt Ltd, owned by Bhavesh Bhinde, had erected the illegal, oversized hoarding. Investigations revealed that Marathe received over 30 lakh from Ego Media Pvt Ltd and used a company-paid Mercedes for personal use. Despite resigning from Ego Media on December 21, 2023, the car remains in her possession.

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According to police, Marathe and Bhinde neglected the hoarding’s structural integrity, prioritising financial gain, which led to the accident. Both Marathe and Kumbhar fled Mumbai after Bhinde’s arrest, hiding in Goa until their capture.

The SIT arrested four individuals so far. Bhinde was first arrested on May 16, followed by Manoj Ramkrishna Sanghu, a BMC-approved engineer who issued a stability certificate for the oversized hoarding despite knowing it exceeded BMC limits. Both Bhinde and Sanghu are in judicial custody.

Ego Media had sought permission in 2020 to erect three hoardings at the Ghatkopar site, initially approved for 40x40 feet. In July 2022, Bhinde requested an increase to 80x80 feet and an extension of the lease from 10 to 30 years. Bhinde also sought approval for a fourth hoarding, initially sized at 120x70 feet but later expanded to 140x120 feet, without a tender. GRP commissioner Quaiser Khalid approved these requests in December 2022.

Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), which had collected samples of the foundation as well as the piling of the structure, submitted its interim report to the police last week. The report also made an observation that while any hoarding structure in the city should ideally be able to withstand wind speeds of 44 meters per second or 158 km per hour, the Ghatkopar billboard could only withstand one-fourth of that wind speed. The team from VJTI visited the hoarding collapse site in Ghatkopar on May 25 and collected samples. The interim report was prepared on a priority basis and submitted. The detailed report will be submitted later by VJTI, added the officer.

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