Hoarding collapse: SIT questions civic engineer who issued notice to GRP, then withdrew it | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Hoarding collapse: SIT questions civic engineer who issued notice to GRP, then withdrew it

ByManish K Pathak
Jun 04, 2024 08:00 AM IST

The engineer, Sunil Dalvi, was posted in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) N-ward from November 2021 to April 2024

Mumbai: A civic engineer who had issued a notice to the Government Railway Police (GRP) for erecting the illegal, oversized hoarding at Ghatkopar that collapsed on May 13 but withdrawn it later was questioned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Mumbai police’s crime branch. The SIT is probing the hoarding collapse incident in which 17 persons lost their lives.

HT Image
HT Image

The engineer, Sunil Dalvi, was posted in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) N-ward from November 2021 to April 2024. He was in constant touch during this period with Bhavesh Bhinde, proprietor of Ego Media Pvt Ltd, which owned the ill-fated hoarding, said sources. Police have been scrutinising his call data records and WhatsApp chats with Bhinde spanning the past one year to ascertain their evidentiary value, the sources added. “If Dalvi was aware that the land did not belong to the Railways and civic laws were applicable, he should not have withdrawn the notice. He was in-charge of the hoarding department in N-ward and it was his responsibility to take legal action against the illegal hoarding,” said a crime branch officer. The SIT has already recorded Dalvi’s statement in the case.

“We have been gathering evidence against people involved in the hoarding collapse incident. Once the evidence is collected, legal action will be taken against them,” the officer added.

As of now, the SIT has arrested two accused in the case – Ego Media’s Bhinde, and Manoj Ramkrishna Sanghu, a BMC-approved engineer who allegedly gave the stability certificate for 120x140 feet hoarding on April 24, 2023 despite knowing that it was bigger than the maximum size permitted by BMC. Bhinde is in judicial custody while Sanghu is in police custody till June 5.

The third suspect Janhavi Marathe, who was Ego Media’s director till November 2023, is still untraceable. A police team had visited her residence for an inquiry after the arrest of Bhinde, but she was not present at home, said a police official. Her appeal for anticipatory bail was also rejected the sessions court.

Ego Media had applied for permission to erect three more hoardings on the same plot in Ghatkopar in 2020. The permission was granted by the GRP, which owns the land, with the size of hoardings stipulated at 40x40 feet.

In July 2022, Bhinde allegedly approached GRP commissioner Quaiser Khalid to increase the size of the hoardings to 80x80 feet and the length of the tenures from 10 to 30 years. Bhinde also sought permission for a fourth hoarding for which a tender was not issued. Despite this, Khalid allegedly approved the application in December 2022 before handing over the charge to his successor, Ravindra Shisve. The fourth hoarding’s initial size was 120x70 feet before it was increased to 140x120 feet, said another officer. According to the police, Ego Media was paying 13 lakh rent per month for the three hoardings (measuring 80x80 feet each) and 11 lakh per month for the fourth hoarding, which collapsed on May 13.

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